‘William Wegman | Reel to Real’ at CMCA

Jun 05, 2017
William Wegman’s “Materialism” is a 1975 pencil, chalk and ink on paper.

Rockland — The Center for Maine Contemporary Art, 21 Winter St., will open of the exhibition “William Wegman: Reel to Real” Saturday, June 10. The exhibition, featuring selections from the artist's early videos and drawings, will be on view through Oct. 22.

An important pioneer in video art, William Wegman created a series of short videos between 1970 and 1978 that are now considered classics in the field. He began experimenting with the new medium in earnest in 1970 while living in Southern California, where he taught for a year at California State College, Long Beach. Working concurrently with other early West Coast video artists such as Bruce Nauman and John Baldessari, Wegman perfected a deadpan humor and absurdist logic in his videos that came to define much of the West Coast conceptual art of this period.

It was in Long Beach that Wegman acquired his first Weimaraner, Man Ray, who became an active participant in the early videos and an iconic presence in the artist’s career.

“My background is in painting, but in school in the sixties, like many artists of that time, I believed that painting was dead,” Wegman said.

He began to work in collaboration with other artists in the creation of performance and installation works. Soon after, he started making video and photographic works and, in the process, became fascinated with the media itself.

“Before long, I was setting things up just for the camera. In 1970, I got a dog and he turned out to be very interested in video and photography, as well,” Wegman said.

Born in 1943 in Holyoke, Mass., Wegman is one of the best-known and most highly regarded artists of his generation. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Massachusetts College of Art; and an MFA from the University of Illinois, Urbana. With homes and studios in both New York and Rangeley, he continues to make videos, to take photographs and to make paintings and drawings.

A public reception celebrating CMCA's summer exhibitions will be held Saturday, June 24, from 5 to 8 p.m. Wegman, accompanied by his Weimaraners, will discuss his work as part of CMCA's Tuesday Talk series July 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the Strand Theatre, with a reception following around the corner at CMCA. Tickets for the talk will be available online starting July 1 at rocklandstrand.com.

CMCA, a contemporary arts institution presenting year-round exhibitions, engaging events and educational programs for all ages, is currently open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. (closed Federal holidays). Admission is $8; $6 for those older than 64 and for students with ID; and free for children younger than 18, CMCA members and for all during First Friday Art Walks through October. For more information, call 701-5005 or visit cmcanow.org.

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

William Wegman’s “Spelling Lesson” is a video from 1973-1974 (0:49).
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