“Construction 286” by Abe Ajay.

The Zillman Art Museum-University of Maine, located at 40 Harlow St. in downtown Bangor, opens new exhibitions that will run through Aug. 19 (second floor galleries) and Sept. 19 (main floor galleries). 

ZAM is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and brings modern and contemporary art to the region, presenting approximately 21 original exhibitions each year. 

Admission to the Zillman Art Museum is free in 2023, thanks to the generosity of Birchbrook. 


May 19 to Aug. 19, 2023

Gold Dust features a series of recent works by New York City-based artist Nathan Brad Hall. The artist is known for his realistically rendered portraits and figures. The majority of the paintings and drawings were created in 2022 and 2023 and are being exhibited for the first time in this solo-exhibition. Hall’s on-going preference for painting large canvases is demonstrated in Gold Dust, with the largest composition, King, spanning 80 x 120 inches. Hall states that he wishes to offer “glimpses into the intensity and vulnerability of being human. Working at a sizable scale allows the viewer to be enveloped in the figure’s deep humanity.”

Hall’s use of strong directional light is a hallmark of his paintings as his subjects seem to emerge from darkened environments. For instance, in the recent 2022 large-scale portrait, “Wait for Me,” the facial features of his red-haired subject are partially obscured in shadow. Hall states, “This interplay of light and shadow, paired with the complexity and illusion of color, drives me to capture these temporal moments with the fluidity of paint.”

When the painter’s intense light source rakes over his subjects, the results are dramatic. In Kingdom Come, a shard of diagonal light illuminates the hair and forehead of his handsome sitter, while the remaining facial features, neck, and tattered t-shirt are shrouded within the shadow.

While Hall’s depictions may at first-glance seem hyper-realist in execution, the artist’s selective use of thickly modeled paint passages add a more intuitive and textural dimension to the surface. Hall states, “Using both expressive and refined brush strokes of various thickness, my work uses the physical nature of oil paint to explore the balance of energy and stillness that can make the human figure come alive.”


May 19 to Aug. 19 

Meryl Meisler was born in the Bronx in 1951 and raised in Massapequa, a Long Island suburb of New York City. Meisler’s neighborhood was largely composed of Jewish and Italian families, although there were also Irish, German, Greek and other first and second generation Americans. Meisler’s Jewish roots and family dynamics are celebrated in many of the works in this exhibition. “Our parents taught us pride in our heritage and the importance of sticking together with family,” Meisler says.

Inspired by the work of Diane Arbus and her dad Jack Meisler’s family albums, Meisler enrolled in her first photography class in 1973 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. When back home on school breaks, Meisler photographed the people she knew and loved — family, neighbors, and friends—along with making self-portraits. Within this body of work, Meisler explored topics of sexual identity, while also questioning her place and future within this suburban lifestyle. Living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and beauty parlors became the backdrop of personal comedic theater and drama in which her subjects played themselves. Meisler adds, “My lifelong love of musical theater influenced all of the interior photos.”

Meisler’s images in 70s Suburban Sensibilities – Family and Friends are steeped in humor. The photographer states, “My parents and their friends were fun-loving, adventurous people. Like many victims of centuries of bigotry and oppression, the Jewish people might have developed a strong sense of humor as a survival mechanism.” Lively friends and colorful family members are pictured amidst the over-the-top interior decor prevalent in many 1970s suburban homes. For instance, in Butterfly Bedroom Telephone, East Meadow, NY, a room adorned with butterfly wallpaper and matching bedding is the setting for Meisler’s amusing image of a friend’s mother wearing a patterned housecoat while chatting on a Princess model telephone. When brought together, the comedic expression of Meisler’s reclining subject, the bold graphic wall coverings, and a gigantic plant stand that appears to be a spiral staircase to nowhere, borders on the absurd.

In “My Favorite Jewish Mother,” Meisler’s mother, wearing oversized glasses and freshly-set hair, gazes with a deadpan stare over the top of a newspaper emblazoned with the headline “A Scholarly View of the Jewish Mother.” In another comical image, “Aldo Making Muscles,” Meisler’s bikini-clad boyfriend awkwardly flexes his muscles, causing a less than flattering distortion of his neck and head. The earliest work in the exhibit, the 1973 image Perfume Counter at Bloomingdales, illustrates the photographer’s preference for subjects who possess a confident and audacious sense of style. 

Documenting intriguing individuals and dynamic settings is also reflected in another series by Meisler that features images of charismatic club-goers partying in New York City’s eclectic dance venues in the late 70s and in present day. 


May 19 to Aug. 19 

The Zillman Art Museum is delighted to welcome back the Young Curators after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This innovative program provides high school students with the opportunity to experience the inner workings of an art museum and to collaborate as a group to create an exhibition from the Museum’s permanent collection. In addition to selecting artworks from ZAM’s collection, each Young Curator researches and writes about the artist and artwork that they chose.  

Signs of Life highlights many of the things we encounter every day — nature and humanity and signs of life. For some in the group, the theme relates to the vibrancy of Spring and a renewed sense of existence, while others felt that it signified the uniqueness of people and the ability to communicate and employ art for expression. Two of the curatorial unifiers of the exhibition are the energy and movement found in the various artworks. 

Most of the offerings are prints: lithographs, screen-prints, and woodcuts — the outlier being Abe Ajay’s sculptural wall piece, “Construction #689,” its mechanical nature epitomizing the artist’s inspiration to create from natural sources.

ZAM’s 2023 Young Curators: 

Cody Fortier, Brewer 

Nora Marasco, Bangor 

Lilly McBreairty, Bangor

Lainey Thai, Bangor 


May 19 to Sept. 2

“Body Language” features textile-inspired works by Maine-based painter Lesia Sochor. The daughter of Ukrainian immigrant parents, Sochor grew up in Philadelphia and studied fine art at the Philadelphia College of Art. 

A simple spool of thread was the catalyst for Sochor’s inquiry into the ancestral ties between women in her family and their connections to textiles and sewing. The artist concentrates on thematic narratives through colorful spools, mannequins, and beautiful clothing. The theme explores the way in which humans use clothing and fashion to present themselves and define their identity.  

The body becomes a dynamic vehicle for beauty, power, political messaging, and the art of fashion. In a broader sense, Sochor is investigating the pros and cons of store-bought fashion’s accessibility and its source of production. High fashion has long been associated with the couture and designers of Paris and New York, but ready-to-wear clothing has come at a human cost. In 2012 the tragic fire in a large garment factory in Dhaka Bangladesh brought awareness to the poor working conditions of the factory and the treatment of its workers. Sochor was moved to paint Made in Bangladesh “as a means of addressing the inequities of labor practices and subjugation of workers in many parts of the world who sew our fashions,” she says. 

Sochor’s oil paintings of thread spools segued into using pattern paper to highlight the process of sewing. Her translucent images are painted with thin layers of oil placed on a collaged surface of sewing pattern paper that Sochor has integrated onto stretched canvas. The multilingual instructional text of the pattern paper remains visible. The markings on the individual pattern pieces are carefully considered and are critical to the overall intent of each piece. Incorporating the pattern is not unlike designing and constructing a garment with its many steps; laying and pinning, cutting, and finally sewing the fabric. Sochor’s dedication to detail suggests the careful craftsmanship associated with hand-tailored clothing. The semi-transparent layers and diverse palette of the paint evoke luscious and sultry drapery. Sochor uses cast shadow and tone to show the curves of her subjects, filling out the attire she has designed for them. Sochor reveals her versatility with the movement of Cinderella and the stillness of Jazz Fest Mama. There is a juxtaposition between the sumptuous folds of fabrics as in Leopardess and the crisp lines of the mannequin form series.  

Sochor pays homage to her artistic influences by painting fellow Ukrainian artist, Louise Nevelson as well as Georgia O’Keefe. Sochor says, “Both of these women consciously crafted a signature style of dress which was aesthetically and intentionally driven to create an image; a persona. Their clothing was an authentic form of expression – their whole lives were works of art.” Sochor illustrates this by creating one of O’Keefe’s understated black and white dresses. In contrast, Nevelson is the only body in the exhibition painted with a head to convey the gestalt of Louise. Sochor explains, “It was imperative in creating her persona to portray her scarf and false eyelashes.” These featured works are a testament to how clothing and fashion are embedded in history and identity.  


May 19 to Sept. 2 

In 1975, Meryl Meisler moved to New York City. Two years later, its most notorious and celebrated nightclub, Studio 54, opened its doors. Meisler immersed herself in the nightlife scene and began to make images of Studio 54’s colorful pleasure-seekers, along with some of its most noted party-goers such as Andy Warhol. The photographer states, “When Studio 54 opened, my friend JudiJupiter got us on the guest list as photographers. The doorman took a liking and parted the door for us night after night. Studio 54’s fabulous changing décor, DJs, sound system, and incredible crowds of diverse ages, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and gender identities were thrilling.”

Fueled by the excitement of Manhattan’s exploding club scene of the late ’70s, Meisler photographed fashionable night revelers and celebrities at a number of other hedonistic havens that popped up throughout the City. Legendary clubs such as Copacabana, Paradise Garage, Hurrah, Xenon, GG’s Barnum Room, CBGB, and erotic Go-Go bars, provided an endless and diverse array of extravagant subjects immersed in dance and party spectacles. Each venue had its own unique identity, clientele, and energy. Some club-goers who were unable to gain admission to Studio 54 or wanted a change of scenery explored the crowd, vibe, and music at other night spots. Meisler adds, “On nights off, club owners and cohorts would party at other discos.” It was on one of these evenings that Meisler photographed Halston and Studio 54 co-owner Steve Rubell comfortably huddled together on a couch at the club Hurrah. 

A monogamous relationship, full-time art teaching job, and the onset of the AIDS epidemic prompted the photographer’s foray into nightlife culture to dramatically slow down around 1981. Meisler kept her collection of images to herself, as a sort of private visual memoir, until an encounter in 2014 at the drag and burlesque bar BIZARRE in Bushwick. Many of the club’s performers and the scene they created were reminiscent of the freedom and energy that abounded during New York City’s nightlife heyday in the late-’70s. This emerging scene with its emphasis on inclusion, costumed spectacles, and over-the-top revelry inspired Meisler to exhibit her earlier nightlife photos and, once again, document these venues of unbridled celebration. 

Dance and performance take center stage in many of Meisler’s current images taken at clubs like Bushwick’s House of Yes and Bartschland’s roaming parties. These new club scenes with drag queens and kings, bodacious burlesque performers, acrobats, magicians, dancers, and disco divas add to the continuum of NYC’s nightlife culture — honoring and elevating the dynamic spirit set forth by prior generations of party-goers.

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Categories:   Bangor, exhibitions, gallery, openings, shows