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America is always on the move, the exhibit at the Constellation Gallery reflects our independent spirit

This article first appeared on Maine Insights, by Morgan Rogers

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The Constellation Gallery, home of the Maine Artists Collective, is pleased to announce their Movement exhibit for July. America is a forever-changing nation– always on the move, this exhibit reflects the country’s independent spirit. The exhibit will have works from 11 different artists on display, with their creations to marvel at, to contemplate, and to sense the world of movement in.

The Constellation Gallery has brought together unique visions of movement, which represents the diversity of the artists and their various mediums.

Kate, Sanders-Fleming’s piece, Back At Home, a 3 x 4 foot oil painting, was chosen for as the Best of Show. There are many interpretations for this powerful work, which Kate embraces. For some, Back At Home depicts an apparently conflicted man in bed in different stages of action. It captures the turmoil of a waking dreaming state of mind in flux by showing us his different body movements. The warm earthy tones give the viewer the sense he’s protected.

“I need to make work about the people and the environment around me. We’re always in motion, always changing, always dealing with each other throughout the day— that excites me,” said Sanders-Fleming. “I’m directly trying to work from life. It’s difficult to trace the passage of time on a two dimensional space.”

Kate’s constant movement in her work reflects her life as a dancer and her need to always be doing something active. It’s distinctively her voice.

“This is going to be a life long thing,” said Kate. “I’m playing with bringing animals into my work – looking at the cross over between human, animal shapes and movement.”

Sanders-Fleming’s is an avid and innovative visual artist, art educator, and poet. She holds a BFA in Painting from Rhode Island School of Design, 07’, and specializes in figurative painting, woodblock prints, and sculpture. Kate has been exhibiting and teaching art since 2006. She has also been a community organizer, a yoga instructor and is pursuing her Masters of Arts in teaching at Maine College of Art. Kate has taught art in schools and youth programs in Providence, New York City, Guatemala, and Portland. She worked at the grass roots helping to build community in Guatemala with mural projects and would like to do something similar here.

“I’d love to work with a diverse group of kids and bring them together with art crossing cultural frontiers. I love working with adolescents,” said Sanders-Fleming, who is thrilled to call Portland home. “I needed a small city with big nature. Portland is an incredibly artistic rich place.”

The movement in Kifah Abdulla’s work also combines multiple body forms.

“I was born in Baghdad on June 1956. Throughout my existence I have taught, painted, and written poetry mining my life experiences,” said Kifah. “My recent work is very figurative actually, but not at all realistic. I don’t compare myself with anyone but many times the people see the taste of great masters in my paintings, like Picasso and Matisse and this true. They are my favorite influences.”

Kifah was a prisoner of war in Iran for over eight years. He is an exile, and teacher. His work is dynamic and conjures emotions deep within ones soul.

“Releasing emotions is better than keeping them imprisoned in body. Emotion is a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. It plays an important role in human life and it is a motive force for human behavior,” said Abdulla. “Human life isn’t one frequency; it is full of different experiences that bring us to various emotions. At different times humans feel love and hate, safety and peace, fear and anxiety, joy and sorrow. Thus, I think that human life is constantly fluctuating and that adds value and pleasure to life.”

Kifah also helps out youth with his writing and poetry talents at the Telling Room. The Telling Room is a nonprofit in Portland, Maine dedicated to teaching and fostering creative writing among children and young adults. Recently Kifah’s student, Omar Raouf, a high school refugee from Iraq, spoke at the World Refugee Day in Portland and presented Presidential Inaugural poet Richard Blanco with a published copy of the book he wrote, as Kifah’s student.

Kifah’s work is about healing through emotions and motion. “I think the duty of art is to help release emotions and that helps to heal troubled minds and souls,” he said.

Every piece Kifah paints tells a story personal to him but he wishes the viewer to connect with his work through their own experiences. “I would like to let the audience imagine a story according to their understanding, knowledge and emotions,” said Kifah.

Ramona du Houx’s art is all about motion. Her pieces in the show are more abstract and challenge the viewer to discover what they are and what they mean, to them. They also are meant to calm troubled souls.

“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 du Houx. “Sometimes when people look deeply into the images they relax and find a tranquil place in their souls, as one would if they took time in nature. Hopefully they help bring people back to nature’s balance.”

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 U.S. cities.

To celebrate the Forth of July the gallery is also welcoming the music of Pretty Girls Soprano, from 5 to 8 pm.

The juried artists with work in the Movement exhibit are: Kate Sanders-Fleming, Kifahh Abdulla, Ramona du Houx, Nate Parent, Joanne Fitzpatrick, Hilliary Townsend, Ivy Demos, Ann Tracy, Anastasia Weigle, and Neil Wyrick.

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 Saturday from noon to 4 pm. For private viewings call 207.409.6617.

More about the other artists in alphabetical order:

IVY DEMOS was born, raised, and educated in Maine.

“My aesthetic and process is akin to that of the improvisational musician, a result of childhood jazz music studies. Radiant with kinetic energy, the images are sublime yet challenging and engaging. A kaleidoscopic storm of primary colors, metallics, and textures organize into balanced compositions,” said Demos.

JOANNE FITZPATRICK is a collage artist who incorporates pressed flowers, leaves and other natural materials as her primary medium. Her first efforts were at the age of 10. Over the years she has perfected the process, finding that books from the 1900s outperform conventional flower presses.

“Even more critical is the energy, pressing the Earth’s bounty at the time of harvest with intention: love, gratitude and appreciation, and respect. The Earth will only last as long as we appreciate it,” said Fitzpatrick. Her company, Preservation of Earth, reflects this philosophy as well the art form. Her goal is to inspire others to utilize the Earth as a medium and emphasize the necessity of process over product in any individual artist’s creation. When not creating art, Joanne is an RN.

MARTHA LAMARCHE 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.

NATE PARENT proclaims he was a little miscreant in elementary school. That’s where he realized he could amuse and amaze his classmates by drawing beautiful women and monsters, and thirty years later he is still on that quest. After a decade spent in pro-wrestling (hence his alias Dr. Payne), Nate has refocused on his artwork and photography. Where his paintings and illustrations explode from the horrific and sensual visions of Nate’s devious mind, his photography captures the unique corners of the world he has discovered in his unusual travels. Between his manic artwork and vibrant photography Nate is slowly establishing himself as one of the premiere Lowbrow artists in Portland.

HILLIARY TOWNSEND is a Portland photographer with a unique aesthetic and an
original, improvisational digital technique that makes her work stand out for its visual audacity, chilling atmospheres and childlike wonder. Educated in Colchester, England for commercial photography in the 1970s, she perfected her own black & white darkroom/hand-colored “photopainting” technique in the 80s, which continues to inspire her haunting, layered digital work today.

Hilliary’s work has been shown in New York City, New Jersey, and here in Portland. “Since my early days,” she said. “I’ve used photography to capture the enigmatic images and rich natural textures I see both in my dreams and hidden beneath the surface in the waking world.”

ANN TRACY 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 art has been exhibited in galleries and museums from Japan to Maui to 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 last September at the Soho Digital Gallery.

ANASTASIA S. WEIGLE holds a B.A. in Natural Science Illustration with a minor in Museum Studies and a MSLIS in Archives Management. She works primarily with mixed media and found objects. Her pieces are deconstructed found objects restructured into bold images with a distinct sculptural element, which directs the viewer’s eye through the many layers of her work. Her creations include book construction, painting and complex collages. She has been featured on HGTV’s That’s Clever, was listed in the 2008 Studio Visit art catalog, one of ten assemblage artists in a 2009 Maine Home and Design issue, and listed in 1000 Artists Books.

“Through found objects and small, insignificant pieces of nostalgic ephemera, I create a magical world all my own. These are the forgotten bits and pieces of bric-a-brac that I find throughout my journey in this world of discarded dreams,” said Weigle.

NEIL WYRICK

“I have been working in oils for over 25 years. I paint realistically and try to infuse my work with bold color and shadows. These paintings represent Summer and Autumn at Gilsland Farm in Falmouth, one of my favorite places. In Garden Dream I’ve tried to capture the fertility of nature. In Fall Fantasy I’ve tried to capture the wonderful Autumn color at peak foliage,” said Wyrick.

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