The opening exhibition of CMCA’s 60th anniversary year honors five artists whose work, throughout their careers, reflects CMCA’s mission of “advancing contemporary art in Maine.” The five honorees demonstrate through their art a willingness to continually challenge assumptions, to experiment, and to push past established boundaries—exemplifying a spirit of innovation and excellence that contributes to the expansion of contemporary art in Maine.
60th Anniversary Honors Artists
John Bisbee (sculptor): Brunswick, Maine
- Katherine Bradford (painter): Brunswick, Maine, and New York City
- Frederick Lynch (painter): Saco, Maine
- Todd Watts (photographer): Blanchard, Maine
- Mark Wethli (painter): Brunswick, Maine
John Bisbee is known for his idiosyncratic sculptural works created from nails in all sizes, ranging from small brads to large spikes. Within the self-imposed strictures of his chosen medium, Bisbee has developed a vast and surprising array of permutations—each one unique. Whether geometric or organic in form, Bisbee’s sculptures appear as drawings in space, the nails his method of “mark-making.”
Currently an instructor in art at Bowdoin College, Bisbee received his B.F.A. from Alfred University and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. His solo museum exhibitions include the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York; the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri; and a mid-career retrospective at the Portland Museum of Art in 2008. He is a recipient of a 2006 Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, and has also received a Maine State Individual Artist Grant; the Rappaport Prize, administered by the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum; and the Portland Museum of Art Biennial Purchase Prize and William Thon Jurors' Prize. Bisbee's work has been reviewed in Art in America, ARTnews, Sculpture magazine, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Boston Globe.
Katherine Bradford’s paintings hover in the realm between the real and the imagined. Poetic, poignant, delightfully unselfconscious, her paintings defy categorization and seem to embrace their own internal light. She has said, “When I’m actively painting, I try to get in a kind of zone where my rational brain doesn’t take over.”
Bradford attended Bryn Mawr College and holds an M.F.A. from SUNY Purchase. Her work is held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Portland Art Museum, the Smith College Art Museum, and the Farnsworth Art Museum. She divides her time between studios in New York City and Brunswick, Maine. Bradford is on the graduate M.F.A. faculty at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and teaches a course on non-traditional painting at the Fashion Institute of Technology. In 2009 she was a resident faculty member at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Her recent solo exhibition at the Edward Thorp Gallery in New York City received favorable reviews by Ken Johnson of The New York Times and John Yau for Hyperallergic. Her work is represented in Maine by Aucocisco Galleries in Portland. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011.
For more than four decades, Frederick Lynch has mined his own art for inspiration, producing a varied—yet related—body of work that encompasses paintings, drawings, prints, and, most recently, painted and incised wooden reliefs and freestanding objects. “The impetus,” he says, “aside from an interest in other media, was a growing curiosity as to the nature of painted or drawn images that engage the viewer by physical projection and three-dimensional assertions.” Using a system of repeated geometries and mathematical divisions, his motifs evoke the type of order and chaos found in patterns of nature, such as branching, veining of leaves, and molecular structures.
Lynch has lived in Maine since the mid-1970s, and presently resides in Saco. He serves as a faculty member in the Art Department at the University of Southern Maine, where he has taught since 1981. He has exhibited widely throughout New England and beyond. In 2005, the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland mounted a 20-year survey of his work. His art is in numerous public and private collections, including the Portland Museum of Art, the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Bates College Museum of Art, the Colby College Museum of Art, and the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.
For the past thirty-plus years, Todd Watts has pushed the edges of his chosen medium, recombining the language of painting, sculpture, and film with photography. Watts began studying art at age eleven with a scholarship to study painting at Pratt Institute. He studied painting and sculpture at the High School of Music and Art and at The School of Visual Arts, graduating in 1971. He bought his first camera that year and returned to The School of Visual Arts to teach photography in 1973.
His connection to Maine began in 1974 when he bought a house next door to Berenice Abbott, who became his long-time friend. In 2000 he moved his New York studio permanently to Maine. Watts's work has been exhibited and collected internationally. Public collections include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Graphic Collection Albertina, Bibliothèque National, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, and others. In a New York Times review, Andy Grundberg said: “The artist's pictures, which look as if they were air-brushed with glowing veils of color, are as gorgeous as photographs conceivably can get.” Watts's work is represented by his two publishers, Parasol Press and Multi-Editions Press.
Mark Wethli is a painter and public artist whose work investigates the interplay of light, color, geometry, and the passage of time. “I want my pieces to feel as if they’ve had a history, and a purpose,” he has said.
Wethli lives and works in Brunswick, Maine, where he is also the A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Art at Bowdoin College. He received his B.F.A. and M.F.A from the University of Miami. Wethli's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including one-person exhibitions at the Portland Museum of Art and the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. He has been a resident fellow at the MacDowell Colony, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Millay Colony for the Arts, and he has received individual artist's grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, as well as two purchase awards from the American Academy of Arts & Letters.
His work is in numerous private and museum collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Portland Museum of Art, and the Farnsworth Art Museum, and has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times, Art New England, The Portland Phoenix, and The Boston Globe, among others.