Thanks to a good tip, I stopped by the Space Gallery in Portland, Maine yesterday. Located on Congress Street, adjacent to Maine College of Art, Space is dedicated to emerging artists and their ideas. Currently hanging is a display by the Barnstormers, an artist collective that made their mark by painting "post graffiti" murals on run-down old barns. Recently, they had an installation at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Artists, in which they dismantled an entire old tobacco barn, moved it inside, and adorned it with a signature mural--which is to say wild, free-forming use of paint and imagination. When discussing an exhibition in Maine, the question emerged: How to tie it into the Maine vernacular. The answer? Wooden boats, of course.
The visitor to Space is greeted by the forward end of a brightly painted flat-bottomed skiff poking into the building from the front wall. Inside, a 25-or-so-foot full-sized, mural-ized, strip-planked lobsterboat half hull--a boat that had been destined for the burn pile--hangs from the wall. Opposite is the front of a barn, given the same treatment. If you visit the Space website, you'll get a better idea of what I'm talking about. (The gallery's director, a friend of my tipster friend, is going to send me some more photos next week; I'll post a few here.) It's an interesting way to recycle and reinterpret old, not-so-pedigreed structures with no hope of restoration (which is a veiled way of expressing pleasure that the boat wasn't, say, a Herreshoff 12 1/2 with a few rotten floor timbers). And Space gallery itself is an oasis of imagination.