CUSHING — “Alan Magee: art is not a solace,” a film documenting the life and work of internationally renowned Cushing artist Alan Magee, will be shown at the Cushing Public Library, 39 Cross Road, Thursday, June 23, at 6:30 p.m. The artist, his wife, Monika, and David Berez, the film’s co-director and editor, will be present for discussion following the screening.

The program is free, with donations encouraged to benefit the library. The presenters request that those attending wear masks. For further information, call Wendy Roberts at 207-691-0833 or email wrobertsmaine63@gmail.com.

The film has been widely praised by artists, critics, scholars and diverse viewers for showing Magee at work and revealing his path from boyhood enthusiast to successful illustrator to an artist who explores both life’s darkness and light. Critic and historian Lucy Lippard describes his passionate response to artists of the German Weimar Republic (between WWI and WWII, notably Käthe Kollwitz) whose work resonates to our time and “speaks to the social responsibility of artists’ active involvement in targeting the destroyers of life, highlighting our own responsibilities as humans.”

Art historian Rebecca Zorach describes the film as “Quietly stunning… From enchantment to tranquility to dread, but always leaving room for optimism in the midst of tragedy.”

The filmmakers, David Wright and David Berez, combine archival footage of the developing artist and location shooting from Pemaquid Point, Maine, to Berlin, exploring the artist’s subjects, locales and historical sources that have sustained his work for five decades. Viewers see him intensively painting his realist canvases in his Cushing studio, as well as doodling and creating in sculpture and other mediums, especially his innovative technique of the monotype. Even the darkest of his work reveals the humor of an outwardly gentle demeanor with a keen satirical mission. The more familiar serene paintings of nature and found objects offer the sublime, if not solace. “This perfectly edited film allows me to know the artist Alan Magee as if I were to visit his studio,” wrote curator John Heartfield.

The film premiered at the 2019 Camden International Film Festival and has been seen on PBS and in a showing at Rockland’s Strand Theatre, but this is a special screening in Cushing with the opportunity to talk with the artist, his wife (whose importance and influence in his life is well documented in the film) and one of the filmmakers.

A film still of Alan Magee painting in his studio.