Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Station Art Show Lifts Wintry Pall from Downtown

Given Brunswick’s well known creative economy riches, it’s with a good deal of delight that we bring you this report, and the innovation and counter-culture profile it embodies.

We refer to a new exhibition spurred by our investments in Maine Street Station, and the associated rail rejuvenation courtesy of unknowing taxpayers nationwide (not to mention foreign lenders.) In an artistic breakthrough of enormous scale, unidentified aesthetes have brought a mobile, many-axled, two-faced, multi-panel mural to listless yet defiantly creative Brunswick. 

It is erected smack-dab in the very heart of our signature venue, and is so compelling one’s eyes and artistic sensibilities cannot avoid it.  It sits just a few paint splashes away from the now famous pennants hanging from an adjacent landmark.  

Both are triumphant symbols of the multiculturalism prized by the aristocracy in the local Ivory Tower.  Expressions can take many forms, thought most are less disagreeable than the public tongue-lashing sent our way in late 2010.

You know what's awesome about Brunswick? Bowdoin College. Without Bowdoin, what is Brunswick?

However, the point is Brunswick thrives on the presence of Bowdoin College, both financially and culturally. 

And definitely don't welcome Brunswick residents into your lives, because they tolerate you less than you could ever imagine.   

We’re wondering whether these ‘pieces’ could be the foundational elements of a joint Bowdoin-Brunswick Museum of Modern Railroad Art (MOMRA)?  Only The Shadow knows, and he’s not taking our calls.

To our unpracticed eyes, the mural appears to be of mixed-media on a variety of industrial materials.  Imaginative, daring, and dramatic, the throngs of Amtrak passengers arriving daily are no doubt stunned by the scale of the exhibit.  For those lucky enough to gaze upon it as they patronize nearby establishments, it must leave an impression they won’t soon forget.

Residents are abuzz about a public-relations triumph.  Adding to the appeal of the exhibition is the aura of mystery surrounding it.  Could it be the work of artists from Bowdoin College’s vibrant art scene: students, professors, or both?  Over the years, Mumsy and Papa have spared no expense to indulge their budding artistes at the Bowdoin Conservatory of Fine and Not-so-fine Arts.

Or could these be the personal statements of unrecognized multi-media expressionists from other states, or even other countries?  The mind reels at how this could boost Brunswick’s national and international reputation in the arts!  Bravo, we say, to those who came up with the idea!

We looked on the mural for those discrete little white info cards that identify the artist, the name of the piece, and the price, but have so far been unsuccessful.  This may reflect the ‘if you have to ask, you can’t afford it’ nature of the mural collection.  Not to mention real challenges displaying it in your manse.  So we don’t know if the pieces are available separately, or only in the manner shown as connected, co-dependent co-creations.

In moments of wild intellectual abandon of course, it’s not hard to see downtown Brunswick as a canvas upon which artists of various styles and abilities paint with the figurative brushes of their longings, biases, and flights of fancy and self-expression.  Some welcomed and sensible; some just the opposite.

One looks at The Mall, and besides Danny’s Dogs and the rest, is reminded of the seasonal renderings by Vivian Wixom, beloved local artist, of which three hang in the Poppycock’s domicile.  (We’ve been unable to find the fourth.)

Periodic “Art Walks,” sponsored by the Downtown Association, flood Maine Street sidewalks with tens of artists, looking for a paying audience for their works, or as some say, ‘pieces.’

A serious gallery or two, with items priced well into the moneyed collector range, draw the interest of one-per centers, if only via the internet.  Far more common is the exhibition of affordably priced items in restaurants and other local businesses.

And we mustn’t ignore the social and political ‘arts,’ such as the Peace Fair and other events that distinguish the civic life of our community.  Brunswick just wouldn’t be the same without the ‘everything free for everybody’ sign carriers on Saturdays.

Then we have the broad brush strokes of government, as it reconfigures traffic flow at great expense but to no benefit, or dishes out tax exemption and deferral goodies to favored suitors, often connected with our small, high prestige local college.

As most know, Side prefers the edible arts over the above, as exemplified by the creations at such ‘galleries’ as Frosty’s.

We’ll close by offering images of this marvelous addition to  Brunswick’s downtown ‘character.’  Make note of the innovation of two-sided works.  In the work just below, the artist defies the normal boundaries of a canvas, extending beyond simplistic linear and planar interpretation.


Here you see the innovative juxtaposition with a prior installation by a Bowdoin College art student; it perfectly captures the visual turmoil of the urban consumerist landscape, wouldn’t you say?


Note below the bold monochromatic brush strokes, in stark contrast with the bland industrial canvas.



Here we see impressionist influences, in a brash show of dadaistic expression.


Note how the multi-panel mural, impossible to capture in a single frame, adds to the welcoming ambience of the Station, and by extension, all of Brunswick.


The bold block letters in the panel below evoke the style of Robert Indiana in his famous ‘LOVE’ sculpture.


Inspired by this local cultural milestone, we’re thinking of petitioning local officials to display ‘post’-erized blow-ups of our finest posts, so as to further impress those coming to or leaving our fine little village.  We’re thinking of identifying our selections as from the ‘artsy-fartsy verbal school of self-expression.’

We’ll let you know what kind of reception we get.  Meanwhile, put in the good word for us, will you?  It might help us avoid getting “run out of town on a rail.”

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