Gail Spaien

In here: August 7 - Septemenber 11, 2021

Artist statement:
My paintings tell a story of place and season. As an observer of my surroundings, I selectively catalog — a cottage chair from the Hadden house on Cliff island, the car ferry motoring across Casco Bay in the winter, the bell buoys that mark the channel in Whitehead Passage, the birds fluttering in the willow tree in my yard. I unify the subject of my work around the cycles of nature, daily activity and routine. Evoking a feeling of suspended time and space, my use of scale, proportion, pattern and subtly shifting color are visual elements that translate sensations of buoyancy and depth. The horizon line is an expansive edge that anchors.

As objects of contemplation [the] paintings ask the viewer to sit and gaze out — an action that counterbalances the noise that so often renders the invisible substance of daily life unobservable.
Crossing two generations, Gail Spaien was born at the tail end of the Baby Boomer decades, raised by parents who grew up in the 50’s. They taught her to value personal responsibility, humility, hard work, family and domestic perfection. In contrast, the hippies of the 60’s and 70’s valued leisure and connection. They questioned authority and redefined the notion of perfection as freedom, peace, love, flower power, inclusion, social liberalism and a focus on self. Both generations reached for idealist paradigms in different ways and shaped her ongoing inquiry into ideas about place, utopia and how to give form to life’s poetry and paradox.

Spaien has been the recipient of numerous fellowships including the Varda Artist Residency Program, Millay Colony for the Arts, the Djerassi Foundation Resident Artists Program, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She has received grant funding from the Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Foundation, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation Artist Advancement Grant, and the Maine Arts Commission. Spaien’s group exhibitions include Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York; the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA; Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA; Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockland, ME; San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, California; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento,CA; the Portland Museum of Art, ME, and the University of New Hampshire Museum. Her one and two person exhibitions include Ogunquit Museum of American Art, Ogunquit, Maine; Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine; Aucocisco Gallery, Portland, George Marshall Store Gallery of the Old York Historical Society, York, ME, and Ellen Miller Gallery in Boston, MA. A Professor of painting and core faculty in the MFA program at the Maine College of Art, Spaien received her BFA from the University of Southern Maine and her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute.