‘My Neck of the Woods’ exhibition at River Arts
Artist Michael Blaze Petan is having a solo exhibition of 12 Artwrecks in a solo show at River Arts West Gallery through July 12. There is an opening reception for the artist Friday, June 16 from 6-8 p.m. and his somewhat provocative show, “My Neck of the Woods.”
A Chicago native and graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, Michael migrated to Maine 20 years ago and has stayed put living year round with his family on the working waterfront of Bremen. Maine provides him the space, the hush and the spark to create. Mythic Maine summers are balanced with the solitude of long, cold and often deep crisp white winters. This literal “White Space” slows time and provides the pause and stillness for personal exploration and deeper artistic observation. His work reflects on our culture, myth, what was, what was not and what is. The results are a kaleidoscope of color, hyperactive line and vibrant images the rules are few if any.
Each effort embraces chaos, uncertainty and the bottled up anxiety of being human. Michael’s medium is mashed up and mixed and unlimited from colored pencils to spray paint to bees wax to magic markers to chalk to oils to acrylics to anything goes, if it can suggest a motion and emotion and leave a mark. He’s inspired by books and authors like William Faulkner. Music often sets the mood for the day in his studio with artists such as The Wu Tang Clan or Wagner or Vic Chesnutt and can shift a painting’s direction without intention.
Michael’s biggest influence at the Art Institute of Chicago wasn’t painting but in Film Studies taught by Stan Brakhage. Brakhage, an iconic avant-garde independent filmmaker who explored landscape in cinema, combining nature, magic, mystery, mayhem, perspective and often painted directly onto film. Brakhage encouraged an independent approach to artistic expression and to seeing. Michael’s approach is to capture that Film-matic Energy and Motion and Meaning into single static painting, capturing a brief moment in time, a punch line, a mystery and that blurred Polaroid of human emotions. Like life, it’s a work in progress.
River Arts is located at 241 U.S. Route 1 in Damariscotta and is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed on Mondays.