BAR HARBOR — The latest Abbe Museum offering presents a compelling window onto the work of Native American artists who meld tradition with the modern in seamless ways.
“Twisted Path II: Contemporary Native American Art Informed by Tradition,” an invitational modern art show, explores the timeless spaces where ash wood is woven and beadwork formed into double curves, while also referencing pop culture, modern pressures and 21st century tastes. The show, comprising work by five artists from the Northeast, overflows with visually brilliant work set to expand the viewers’ perceptions of fine art and the modern Native American art movement.
The show is largely easy on the eyes – a bit surprising, given the edgy stance of the first Twisted Path exhibit. But what it lacks in wow factor is more than made up for in the intricate beauty, say, of Sarah Sockbeson’s baskets and petite watercolors, or studiously embroidered clothes by Leon Sockbeson, who goes by LEON. George Neptune’s whimsical baskets are lighthearted and free of rules.
Through the bulk of the exhibit, the viewer is mostly absorbed with baskets and beading, albeit innovative and remarkable examples of each. But curators Raney Bench and Rick Hunt have put forth a balanced show.
With Max Romero’s “Assimilation Revisited,” we have a jagged edge that calls all that easy beauty into question. Mr. Romero’s plaster man adds enough sharp flavor to make up for the sweetness. His work is a revelation, highly personal yet universal, intriguing in its form.
The compelling piece avoids easy translation, inviting the viewer to amble around it for long minutes, pondering its meaning. The story it tells seems more than native. This key moment, chosen or forced, may represent a decision that many must face.
The exhibit will remain on display at the Abbe Museum, at 26 Mount Desert St., through May 2012. Winter hours are Thursday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum is closed during the month of January, and will be closed any weekday that local school is canceled.
Admission is $6 for adults and $2 for children age 6 to 15. Admission is free for Abbe members and Native Americans.