OGUNQUIT, Maine — The Ogunquit Museum of American Art (OMAA) has announced the exhibition schedule for its 70th season, which begins on Saturday, April 29 and runs through Sunday, November 12, 2023. The 2023 season will present exciting and ambitious new projects, including site-specific murals from Joe Wardwell, an installation of land art by Meg Webster, and the first solo museum exhibitions from Liam Lee and Ever Baldwin. The anniversary season will also include an exhibition showcasing recent Maine artists who are rethinking the beach and looking closely at the ecology of this ever-evolving locale, and two thoughtful exhibitions of the museum’s permanent collection.
The museum opens with Shifting Sands: Beaches, Bathers, and Modern Maine Art, which runs through Sunday, July 16. The second half of the season opens on Friday, July 28 with three new exhibitions: Meg Webster: New Work; Spontaneous Generation: The Work of Liam Lee; and Ever Baldwin: Down the Line. Three exhibitions will be open throughout the season: Joe Wardwell: Mural Commission; Networks of Modernism, 1898–1968; and The Architect of a Museum.
“The mix of modern and contemporary exhibitions presented this season represent a step forward for this institution,” said Amanda Lahikainen, PhD, Executive Director of Ogunquit Museum of American Art. “With murals and land art expanding art into our landscape, we are finding new ways to engage our audiences.”
2023 Exhibition Schedule
Shifting Sands: Beaches, Bathers, and Modern Maine Art
April 29–July 16
Shifting Sands, guest curated by Donna Cassidy, Professor Emerita at the University of Southern Maine, explores the unique place the beach holds in modern art. The sun-drenched shore was a place of leisure and a refuge as people of all classes sought escape from the modern city, its pollution and social constraints. On the beach, people could gaze at the sea and at scantily clad bodies on display in a way not acceptable in ordinary life. Sensual if not sexual, swimmers and sun-tanning bathers embodied this liberation, this anti-modernity. While the beach continues to have these associations, it is now viewed as a fragile environment subject to a changing climate and human impact. Shifting Sands examines these themes. The show begins with a study of the artists of the Ogunquit art schools in the early 20th century, then looks beyond Ogunquit to the working-class resorts from Old Orchard Beach to Atlantic City. Finally, the exhibition focuses upon recent Maine artists who are rethinking the beach and looking closely at the ecology of this ever-evolving locale.
Joe Wardwell: Mural Commission
April 29–November 12
Joe Wardwell (b. 1972) is a Boston-based painter and muralist. His work reflects on the traditions of landscape painting, literature, and popular music in the United States and delves into their interconnected role in defining the ideas and values of “Americanness.” He creates paintings and murals beginning with a landscape over which he layers text taken from famous pieces of American literature or music, and then completes the image with a final layer of abstract patterns to set text off from background. For OMAA, Wardwell will create three site specific murals covering the entrance façade and two ocean-facing walls on either side of the museum’s new glass window. Together, the murals will respond to the museum’s unique sense of place on the Maine coastline overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Networks of Modernism, 1898–1968
April 29–November 12
In celebration of the Ogunquit Museum of American Art’s 70th anniversary, the museum is pleased to bring viewers into new ways of seeing the permanent collection in Networks of Modernism. Drawing primarily from OMAA’s permanent collection, this exhibition maps the ways artists responded to the immense social, political, and economic changes affecting life in the United States over a 70-year period: from 1898—the founding of Charles Woodbury’s school in Ogunquit—to 1968. During this time, Ogunquit emerged as an important hub within a vast network of progressive art schools and communities that connected modern artists across the United States and abroad. Organized into a series of thematic groupings, Networks of Modernism contextualizes the artists who lived, worked, or frequented Ogunquit within a broader story of American modernism. Alongside well-known examples from OMAA’s holdings, the exhibition presents a number of works on view for the first time.
The Architect of a Museum
April 29–November 12
Seventy years ago, Henry Strater, in partnership with a group of artists and community members, opened the Museum of Art of Ogunquit (now the Ogunquit Museum of American Art). Reflecting on this milestone, this exhibition dives into the museum’s archives to explore the construction of OMAA’s original 1952 building designed by architect Charles Worley Jr., as well as the inaugural collection that was acquired for the building’s debut. A selection of the original architectural plans for the museum will be put on view for the first time alongside archival materials documenting the opening of the institution. A group of works gifted by Strater that formed the founding collection of the museum will accompany this display. Together, this exhibition will bring visitors back to the start of a legacy now 70 years strong.
Spontaneous Generation: The Work of Liam Lee
July 28–November 12
Blurring the boundaries between the organic and inorganic, Spontaneous Generation refers to an alchemical belief that living organisms could suddenly emerge from non-living materials. Liam Lee’s (b. 1993) work draws inspiration from this breakdown in difference; differences between interior and exterior, the man-made and the natural world. Created painstakingly from hand-dyed and needle-felted wool, his furniture and tapestries slide between form and function. His work frequently references microbes, fungi, flowers, and seeds, as well as the bio-morphic abstraction of Surrealism and mid-century modern design. Spontaneous Generation will be Lee’s first solo museum exhibition encompassing all aspects of his multi-disciplinary approach to art and design, including furniture, tapestries, ceramics, and works on paper.
Ever Baldwin: Down the Line
July 28–November 12
Ever Baldwin’s (b. 1978) paintings probe the porous barriers that separate and frame experience. Working intuitively and with a material immediacy, he sets his thick, matte abstract paintings—made by mixing marble dust and pigment with wax—within burned and blackened hand-carved wooden frames. Baldwin uses the slippages of abstraction to resist legibility and set into motion a constellation of relational meanings: the body becomes landscape as breasts and chest hair slide into roadways and tunnels; the materiality of surfaces mix with mystical and unconscious thoughts; and drag iconography melds with modernist icons. This exhibition—Baldwin’s first solo museum show—charts for visitors these constellations within his works.
Meg Webster: Site-Specific Work
July 28–November 12
Meg Webster (b. 1944) has long been guided by an environmentalist impulse to celebrate and preserve the natural world. For her exhibition, the artist will critically engage with Ogunquit Museum of American Art’s singular site on three acres overlooking the Atlantic Coast. Webster plans an installation of land art in April activating the dynamic habitats encompassing OMAA’s immediate surroundings, including wetlands and intertidal zones. Inside the museum, opening in July, Webster will install works inspired by and sourced from the region’s rich natural resources such as ocean water, sumac, and moss.
About the Ogunquit Museum of American Art
Opened in 1953, OMAA was founded by Lost Generation artist Henry Strater. Closely tied to one of the earliest art colonies of the American modernist art movement, OMAA today houses a permanent collection of paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, and photographs from the late 1800s to the present. The museum showcases American art by mounting seasonal modern and contemporary exhibition programs from May through October. OMAA’s seaside landscape—a three-acre sculpture park containing 18 small gardens—complements its exhibitions and overlooks Narrow Cove and the Atlantic Ocean. The museum is open April 29 through November 12, 2023. More information at www.ogunquitmuseum.org.