Portland’s Constellation Gallery, Dreams exhibit has something for everyone with 27 works from 14 different artists

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Report in Maine Insights
The Constellation Gallery, home of the Maine Artists Collective, is pleased to announce their Dreams exhibit for June. The exhibit will have works from 14 different artists on display, each with their unique styles and disciplines. From paintings, cabinets of curiosity, photographs, to maps and much more the artists have created 27 works of wonder, mystery and magic.

Anastasia Weigle’s piece, Dreaming Elephants, was chosen for as the Best of Show.

“Elephants have always found their way into my art as objects of reverence or playfulness,” said Anastasia Weigle. “In Dreaming Elephants the elephant is aware of all things at all times—they are divine.”

Weigle has an extensive background in library sciences, archival processes and preservation, and book conservation. Her technical background combines with her artistic insights and skill to always create a cohesive structured body of work, which encourages the viewer to discover a piece of themselves inside her art. She has an instinctive sense of time and place and gives her creations a historic mystic— and nostalgia with a twist. Her work is always thought provoking.

The 27 artistic expressions of dreams on exhibit will stir anyone’s imagination. Some pieces calm, some excite and all inspire discussions. There is something here for everyone, which makes the exhibition stand out. Many galleries often have solo shows that require the viewer to devote themselves to one artist’s vision. The Constellation Gallery has brought together 14 different visions of dreams. This collaborative approach is key to the mission to Portland’s only non-profit art gallery collective.

“We’re a group of around forty individual stars that together form this constellation; I like to call it the Star Gallery. We have members from around the world, which makes a richer art experience with cultural insights coming through the work,” said Jos Ruks, President of the Constellation Gallery.

Jos is from the Netherlands and is fascinated by sails and the natural world. He captures the motion of wind in paper sails, kites, and mobiles. Some of his mobiles are powered by solar electricity and dance above visitors in the gallery as their lights turn on. In the stillness of his art there is always the sense of motion and emotion, which captivates. He enjoys sharing his fascination for nautical and historical aspects, which inspire him to develop surprising creations with the challenge of different materials like his 3-d maps in the Dreams show.

“In the Call for Art for this show, it was the subtitle ‘Portland Awakens to a New Day,’ that inspired me to create a panel with six 3-d maps of Portland’s history and possible future,” said Ruks. “Mapping part of this city has been a longtime dream for me. Now I’ve finally realized it. I try to imagine the dreams that the first settlers had about this place and hope that the next generation will not awaken from a nightmare as rising sea levels flood our downtown.”

This spring Weigle also taught a class of Portland high school students, at the gallery, how to make cabinets of curiosity. Art education is also part of the collective’s mission. For Weigle being involved with artists that realize the world in different ways and exhibit together is important.

“The collaborative nature we have here is important,” said Weigle, who was born in Greece. “If people come here and see all the different art maybe they’ll see the world around them differently, and see beauty in everything.”

The artists with work in the Dreams exhibit are: Lisa Crothers, Nicholas Curran, Ramona du Houx, Kyler Henningsen, Martha LaMarche, Robert LaMarche, Jos Ruks, Manasse Shingiro, Margaret Silsby, Dennis Sutton, Hilliary Townsend, Ann Tracy, Anastasia Weigle and Dennis Wyrick.

To help celebrate Portland’s Old Port Festival the gallery is also welcoming the distinctive sounds from Hall Pass Denied, a jazz improve ensemble from Wells High School on Friday, June 6th from 5 to 8 pm.

The Collective’s board decided that each month’s exhibit should be devoted to a theme. July’s focus will be movement and August is devoted to form and flow. September will be works to inspire.

Margaret Silsby will also be exhibiting her work on a special wall as you enter the gallery for the month of June.

The mission of the Maine Artist Collective is to connect the public with Maine artists and support development by providing exhibition and studio space, education, and professional workshops.

The Constellation Gallery is located at 511 Congress Street and is open Tuesday to Friday from noon to 4 pm. For private viewings call 207.409.6617. Come see much more than is here.

More about some of the artists in the show that live in Portland and various towns across Maine:

Kyler Henningsen:

Mr. Henningsen is a writer, musician, painter and sculptor who believes passionately that his legacy has nothing to do with money and everything to do with the art and friendships he creates. He has studied his craft at Brandeis University, Goddard College and the Maine College of Art and is on the Communications Committee of the Maine Artist Collective. You can find his work in Portland at Constellation Gallery and Guitar Grave, his band Soul or Power online at soulorpower.com and his alter ego Hiphopcrates on the street performing poetry. “Follow your art!” said Henningsen.

Ann Tracy:

Ann calls herself a “digital alchemist” exploring identity issues, chance as an element in art and the Dada concept of collage on a digital level based on her photography, digital painting and “found imagery.” This is part of her “Power Series,” an ongoing body of work.

Her fine art has been exhibited in galleries and museums from Japan to Maui and New York City. In 2013, her digital collage Flying Coyotes Surround the El Cortez was chosen as the centerfold for Artscope Magazine (Aug-Sept) and “Behind the Water: Mystery” was a Juror’s selection for the New York Center for Photographic Art show in September at the Soho Digital Gallery.


Martha LaMarche:

Martha is a graphic designer and painter who works primarily with oil, sometimes acrylic, and frequently introduces mica into her compositions, if it gives “voice.” She paints with The Reflectionist (NY) and studies with Alexander Shundi. She currently resides in Portland, Maine, has a working studio at “The Dooryard” (108 High St.), and a design desk at Murphy Empire, in the Old Port.

“Whether a brush stroke is 100 minutes new, or from a cave drawing created eons ago, painting is pure communication between the artist and souls unknown. This mystery is part of the beauty and magic that moves me. While painting, I am satisfied, informed and revealed,” said Martha about her work.

Lisa A. Crothers:

“The amalgamation of the natural and created worlds were the inspiration of both Hiding and Bourne Mansion, a simple blending of natural and man-made beauty,” said Lisa about her works in the Dreams show.

A native Bostonian, Lisa now makes her home in Southern Maine where she teaches courses in the Arts and Humanities. As a Social Documentary Photographer the larger body of her work brings voice to some of the most serious social concerns of our times through the blending of photography and writing.


Robert LaMarche:

A career in magazines and custom publishing has taught this photographer that visual content — even more than words — drives engagement with today’s quick-hit technology. Subject matter aside — be it exploding surf against a placid tidal plain or the skeletal remains of a shipwrecked schooner — the suspension of time creates tension, a revelation of what may have been missed in a “blink.” A closer look yields the extraordinary.

Applying fine-art principles, his images draw you in and keep you engaged in the dynamic and occasionally haunting depths of nature, people, their creations — and sometimes, a quiet place to rest.

Robert lives, works and plays in Portland, Maine, where he continues his custom content and design career.

Ramona du Houx:

Ramona uses the camera with a painter’s eye. The technique she discovered in 1979 uses the camera’s motion and exposure to create a sense of being personally closer to an object through colors, textures, memories, and the seasons. People, animals, building, landscapes … literally everything becomes visibly interconnected as they merge in, what she calls, a Lightgraph. Gallery Storks of Tokyo, Japan, represents Ramona’s work. She’s exhibited in Japan, England, Ireland, New York City and various other U.S. cities.

“Modern society plugs us into the Internet and that can open doors but sometimes too much of being Internet connected disconnects us from the mysteries of the natural world that can be transformational. I want to show how nature’s interconnectedness can lead us to discoveries about our world and ourselves,” said Ramona.

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