Scroll to read the full show intro and more about the artists and their work.
Bellèpoque, shorthand for La Belle Epoque, or “the beautiful age,” describes the period of 1890 – 1914. A golden era, gilded even, in retrospect; a time of peace and prosperity between wars. It was a time of innovation, of railway barons and railroad workers, of the Parisian can-can dancers of the Moulin Rouge, haute couture, and orchids grown under glass. Philosophers examined the ego, artists expressed symbolist visions and exposed societal illness in the face of the Fin de siècle, fearing and welcoming the approaching 20th century. In his book A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888-1889 Frederic Morton tells the history where, in the span of only ten months, "the Western dream started to go wrong."
Introduction and artist descriptions written by Kathy Weinberg.
Adriane Herman’s artistic path led her first to the town dump, and then to consider consumption from a personal, community and global perspective. She wants people to pay attention to the implications of disposability and excess for our culture and the planet. Herman asks us to consider consumption and the emotional release of our possessions.
Eva Rose Goetz
Eva Rose Goetz makes colorful, optic, humorous and narrative images. The paintings on display in Bellepoque form a sequential narrative beginning with The Robot Lost in the Forest —The Goddess is Watching. The Goddess and the Robot then take a walk among “the whispering trees,” (pine shaped beings with lips), they are joined by an elephant, then a tiger and finally a unicorn. This blend of fantasy, fairy tale and science fiction reminds us that the natural world, the world of the spiritual and of the imagination can guide our relationship with technology. After their journey with the Goddess, Goetz implies, the robot will never be the same again.
Gabriel Frey walks out of the woods with a long log, a straight section of a Black Ash tree, on his shoulder. Frey is a 13th generation Wabanaki basketmaker from the Dawnland. The ash tree is associated with a Wabanaki creation myth where man first emerged from the ash, known as the basket tree. Encouraged by his grandfather’s teachings, Frey wanted to make tradition relevant and useful for contemporary people. But now the emerald ash borer is spreading and no ash species in North America is resistant. Frey fears that “a millennium-old art form is on the verge of extinction,” within his lifetime.
Novelist Joris-Karl Huysmans wrote in his 1903 publication of Against Nature, that he had wished to portray a man "soaring upwards into dream, seeking refuge in illusions of extravagant fantasy, living alone, far from his century, among memories of more congenial times, of less base surroundings ... each chapter became the sublimate of a specialism, the refinement of a different art; it became condensed into an essence.”
The exhibition Bellèpoque, uses that rich and turbulent period in history as a jumping-off point to present themes of escapism, constructed realities, materials and waste, and explore the relationship between beauty, decay, opulence, loss and sometimes catastrophic change.
Greg Shattenberg’s pastel flower images have titles that ask you to consider them less as images and more like a discovery. These are not just drawings and they are not merely flowers, they are Ditch Lilies, or Like a Lake. They are images that have come about, been found by the artist manipulating his materials, becoming drawings through experimentation and forming an enduring image through that material process.
Holden Willard’s painting, Sleeping Fox (Vulnerable Heart), is an ode to a young fox. Willard remembers: “A family of foxes moved into the Dane St. Cemetery. I lived across the street. On a run one morning I saw one of the babies had been hit. It always saddens me to see any sort of life tragically cut short, and the area in which the fox passed was not ideal. I replaced the background of the painted image with grass instead, (of a road). Rest easy,” Willard concludes in a gentle tribute. Other titles for his work, When Will it Get Easier, Mystery Farm (Where did it go) display a sensitive nature towards loss and change.
Ian Factor paints firemen in flaming rooms. An almost naked woman stands, calmly in the center of the action, lit up in a fireman’s headlamp like a vision. Factor’s work “investigates the intersection and collision of power dynamics, speaks to the subversion and inversion of the power structure and the collapsing, contrasting ship-of-fools swing in modern culture, the ever growing sense of universal fear and emptiness in the modern dystopian present.”
Ian Trask makes multiple exposure photographs that create conflicting stories and suggest layers of meaning. His titles suggest but do not explain the narrative, one is titled Attack of the Holy Spirit another, Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and Giantess. The events in the images are incongruous and inexplicable, to describe them is like trying to reconstruct and recall a dream. They resemble a myth from a pre-lingual time.
You are here, at The All Roads Hub, a multipurpose warehouse space off of Main Street in Bridgton that, for the duration of the show, and like a traveling carnival, contains a multiverse of artists’ works. It is fitting that a space previously used as a redemption center; a place of recycling, can serve as an exhibition space for art. The path of the artist, their work, is to recycle ideas gleaned from their individual and collective neighborhoods and histories, cultures, life experiences, dreams, fears, and myths, and to convey their insights to viewers with a variety of materials and with some entertainment value thrown in. The art in this exhibit picks up many threads of our time, it is our own “Nervous Splendor” as we navigate our way into an uncertain future.
Jocelyn Lee makes photographs primarily of women, mostly nudes, in or near water or in trees, flowers in water, in full blossom or states of decay. Haunting and mythic, Late September Swim 2021 depicts three women floating in a river against an endless horizon. Other images include flowers floating in water, saturated petals and reflected clouds afloat in the sky.
Jimmy Viera makes abstract sophisticatedly colorful still life images with crisp hard edges and organic floating swirls of paint. They can almost be seen, he says, as “objects on a shelf, in a collection.” Some are based on his pencil outline studies or photographs of plants. His titles like Just Happy to Sit Outside, or Three Friends in the Woods, or Alchemy Jug suggest a place and an experience that is quietly transporting and transformative.
Karen Jelenfy’s abstract expressionism uses energetic lines of paint to create and then pull forms apart. A key, perhaps, to her series of female forms, empty dresses on a support, is a photograph of a group of dressmakers dummies she has titled Family. The dresses move with her paint as if she is summoning up a ghost. One painting titled You Were so Funny speaks to an unspecified loss embodied in an empty dress, caught in the wind that her paint blows through the image.
Kathy Weinberg made Moth Box, an illuminated diorama, as a study for a series of paintings. For the exhibition the viewer enters through a curtain to a private viewing of two illuminated miniatures, rooms with paper moths floating inside and light glowing through the rear windows. Like lightning bugs in June these delicate scenes evoke evanescent poetry.
Be prepared to begin a journey. explore a world where a tree becomes a basket, a meteor strikes a town, empty dresses are formed with brushstrokes and memories, lilies grow in a ditch next to a dead fox, women float in a river that extends towards an endless horizon and moths fly in a night lit room. Some of the titles clue you into the artists’ associations; the ominous, Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the humorous, A Robot Lost in the Forest, you laugh just before thinking “wait, what?” The optimistic Just Happy to Sit Outside suggests that you content yourself to enjoy the colorful abstractions of the painting. One title, without a question mark, reads as a statement, When Will it Get Easier. If history is any teacher we cannot know that, but others who come after us will view our present from a new perspective somewhere ahead, in a future as unknown and unknowable to us as an endless horizon.
Pamela Moulton, known for her collaborative and workshop projects, made primarily from fabrics, will display her towering giantess, MY SIZE BARBIE, a sculpture that is approximately ten feet tall by five feet wide. Made out of Barbie clothing , metal hoops, fabric, suitcase with Barbie’s, clothing, accessories, and Barbie toys attached to a frame. This work was previously exhibited at the Maison du Loir et Cher, Blois France in 2008.
West Paris, Maine
Virginia Valdes, an artist and designer, frequently plays with iconic, graphic imagery to create maximalist, multi-media installations. For Bellepoque she has constructed a 12’x15’ American flag from dyed and painted cotton face masks incorporating altered reality software. Virginia currently serves on the Lights Out Gallery board of stewards.