Jed Perl, award-winning art critic at The New Republic, will present the 2013 CMCA Distinguished Lecture Sunday, Aug. 25, at 5 p.m. at the Rockport Opera House, 6 Central St. His talk on his view of the contemporary art world, based partly on his recent book “Magicians & Charlatans: Essays on Art and Culture,” will be followed by a reception and book signing at the nearby Center for Maine Contemporary Art.

Perl’s central theme will be the place of the arts in a democratic society. He believes that providing rich and complex cultural experiences for as many people as possible is vitally important, and that museums and other cultural institutions should offer these experiences to the public rather than taking the approach that “the more people who come in the door, the better the art.” While pop culture is one of the great achievements of democratic society, according to Perl, the unique qualities of high culture provide intimate and personal one-on-one relationships between artist and audience.

"Our period is a mixed bag. It's not all bad, not by any means. There are artists, writers, and curators who are doing serious work; I've written about some of what they're doing in ‘Magicians and Charlatans.’ Maybe the most important thing to remember is that we criticize because we care," he said.

Perl is the author of several books and has written for Harper's, The New York Times Book Review, The New Criterion and The Atlantic, among many other publications. Currently a visiting professor at the New School of Social Research, he has taught and lectured at numerous universities and museums. Perl has appeared on CNN and PBS and has been interviewed on National Public Radio. He also is board chairman of the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation, which offers residencies for established artists on Cranberry Island.

Tickets for the lecture are $10, $8 for CMCA members, and are available at the door or by calling CMCA at 236-2875. For more information, visit cmcanow.org. The 2013 CMCA Distinguished Lecture is made possible in part by generous support from Mathias Fine Art in Trevett.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.