Four new exhibitions will open at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, 162 Russell Ave., with a 5 to 7 p.m. reception Saturday, Aug. 2. The exhibitions are “Betsy Eby: Painting with Fire,” “Tom Burckhardt: Recent Work,” “Ron Leax: The Natural History of Georgetown” and “Elizabeth Fox: Played to Win.” The reception is free and open to all.

Painter Betsy Eby fuses the line between musical and visual composition in her work. A classically trained pianist, she seeks in her work what Rothko described as “the place where music lives.” “Painting with Fire” features recent paintings that use encaustic. Eby has refined the ancient technique, composing dynamic surfaces and deep, luminous spaces that hover between material and immaterial worlds as they do the worlds of sight and sound. Eby lives with her artist husband Bo Bartlett on Wheaton Island in Maine and in Columbus, Ga. Her work has been shown by the Georgia Museum of Art, the Columbus Museum and Winston Wachter Fine Art in their galleries in Seattle and New York.

“Tom Burckhardt: Recent Work” includes a selection of the artist’s new abstract paintings on cast plastic, as well as Elements of Painting, a large-scale wall installation comprised of individual oil paintings on discarded book pages. For the new paintings, Burckhardt begins by creating a faux “canvas” support from plastic resin poured into a handmade mold — complete with stretcher bars on the back and tromp l’oeil painted thumbtacks and canvas folds along the sides. From these false beginnings, he creates compositions that question the very nature of painting and what is real and unreal. A graduate of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and State University of New York at Purchase, Burckhardt lives and works in Maine and New York. He has had more than 20 solo exhibitions.

Amidst the natural forces of his home in Georgetown, Ron Leax is both artist and naturalist. The sculptor puts his early biology training to use in his new body of flat works, a series of mixed-media drawings that document natural processes and artful human interference. Leax’s art questions how we come to know and order nature, not without some artistic humor to its scientific seriousness. Leax is the Halsey C. Ives Professor of Art at Washington University. His exhibition history extends nationally and internationally, and he has received numerous grants.

In Elizabeth Fox’s most recent series of small-scale narrative paintings, everything is not as it first appears. With their muted color palette and deceptively straightforward style, Fox’s tautly rendered mini-dramas are rich with nuance and biting social commentary. After 18 years in New Orleans, Fox moved to Maine following Hurricane Katrina. She has exhibited her work in New York, New Orleans, Miami, Washington, D.C., Houston and in the Netherlands.

The exhibitions will be on view through Sept. 20. Regular gallery hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5pm. Admission is $5. For more information, visit CMCA’s  2014 major media sponsor is Maine Home + Design magazine.

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