When you think of Maine, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For some unexplained reason I felt compelled to read Gerald’s Game last week, so I can’t help but think of Stephen King. Then I dig a bit deeper and my mind wanders to slightly less Gothic, and more Arcadian territories. I think of turning leaves, the crisp smell of fresh air. I think of hiking, biking, and true American landscapes. I think of William Wegman’s Maine.
For over 30 years, the artist has been creating Maine-inspired artworks. From his beloved Weimaraner photographs to his postcard paintings, Wegman’s work has largely been informed by the majesty and excitement of nature. On Thursday I had the opportunity to tag along with Robin Cembalest on a visit to the artist’s Chelsea studio where he further discussed the role that Maine has played in his life, career, and upcoming exhibition at Bowdoin College, William Wegman: Hello Nature.
Aside from being able to meet Wegman’s famous Weimaraners (who were infinitely more friendly than the dog from Gerald’s Game, I might add), a highlight of the visit for me was learning about the sources that have actuated Wegman’s work . He explained that his appreciation for nature and desire to depict it in a manner that is simultaneously nostalgic and transcendental was largely inspired by books and magazines that he read about the outdoors. These literary influences range from camping catalogues from the 1950’s to Hardy Boys Mysteries like The Twisted Claw and the Secret of the Old Mill. This diverse collection of texts will be included in the exhibition, along with over 100 works by the artist, allowing the viewer to better understand the great sense of adventure and wistfulness evoked by Wegman’s work.
William Wegman: Hello Nature will be on view at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art from July 13-October 21, 2012