Bates College Museum of Art showcases Occupy posters, digital montages by Maine's Jeffery Becton
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Bates College Museum of Art showcases Occupy posters, digital montages by Maine's Jeffery Becton
"Day and Night," a 2011 poster by the Little Hamilton Collective Press, Nashville.

LEWISTON, ME.- An exhibition of Maine photographer Jeffery Becton's digital images, which merge seascape and interior views in dreamlike ways, and a show of posters from the worldwide Occupy movement open at the Bates College Museum of Art with a reception at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, in the Olin Arts Center, 75 Russell St.

Becton will sign copies of the new book, "The Farthest House" (Marshall Wilkes), during the opening. The book features 68 reproductions of Becton's images; an exploration of his work and career by noted Maine art historian Carl Little; and appreciations of the artist by novelist Deborah Weisgall, Wall Street Journal critic Peter Plagens and Bates museum director Dan Mills, who curated the exhibition.

The museum's winter exhibitions, titled "The View Out His Window (and in his mind's eye): Photographs by Jeffery Becton" and "The Art of Occupy: The Occuprint Portfolio," run through March 26. Showing at the museum through the same period is "Maine Collected: Contemporary Selections from the Permanent Collection," an exhibition of images from the museum's holdings by living artists with a Maine connection.

Jeffery Becton
"Jeffery Becton is a pioneer in the field of fine-art photography," Carl Little writes in "The Farthest House."

"He was there at the beginning, in the early 1990s, turning the new digital tools to his artistic purposes when almost no one else was using them in that manner. They provided him with a way to create a surreal sense of place that is his alone."

Becton uses graphics technology to create dreamlike, seamless, surprising harmonies between disparate elements — colors, textures and pictorial components. A resident of Deer Isle, in Down East Maine, Becton draws on the state's dramatic coastal environment for his digital montages, especially the long views of sea and sky.

Yet his work is as much about interior as exterior, as his camera captures domestic settings inside the elaborate, often quirky summer houses of the Down East coast. And Becton's work is interior also in the sense, writes museum director Mills, of an "introspective and contemplative space that enlivens one's imagination, and is no doubt encouraged in this stunning and remote location."

"They are photographs, and they are not," novelist Weisgall writes in "The Farthest House." "Despite knowing better, we want to believe what we see in them.

"Becton's seductive elegance and his assured sense of formal control encourage credulity, even though we understand their impossibility, even though it is clear that what we are looking at is a photographic hallucination. Becton's works are meditations on ambivalence: digital montages, beautiful and unsettling mashups, altered realities."

Becton has created his largest-ever images for the Bates show. "The smallest images are 42 inches wide," Mills says. "Some of the panoramic images are 7 feet long. Visitors will find it exciting to experience these dreamy and dramatic images on this scale."

Becton was born in New Jersey in 1947. He received a bachelor's degree in history from Yale in 1970, and a master's of fine arts in graphic design from the Yale School of Art (now Yale School of Art and Architecture) in 1976. Becton moved to Deer Isle in 1978.

Becton has had solo exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout Maine -- most recently, "A Singularity of Place" at the Maine Museum of Photographic Arts in Portland. Becton’s work has been shown in group exhibitions in Maine, New England and New York state, including at the Portland Museum of Art and Center for Maine Contemporary Art.

His work is in collections including those of the Farnsworth Museum of Art, New Orleans Museum of Art, Portland Museum of Art, University of Maine Museum of Art and University of New England. Plans are underway to travel "The View Out His Window" to academic institutions and municipal museums throughout the U.S. through 2018.

The Art of Occupy
"The Art of Occupy: The Occuprint Portfolio" showcases posters from the worldwide Occupy Movement.

Prints and posters have long been vehicles for the dissemination of political views, protest and socially engaged messages. Continuing that tradition, "Occuprint" was developed on the spur of the moment, in keeping with many aspects of the emerging Occupy Movement in 2011.

As Occupy Wall Street spread around the world, it motivated thousands of people to voice their anger at financial and social inequality. Posters, signs and banners were an integral part of the protests, carrying many messages of participants.

The Occupied Wall Street Journal, an affinity group of Occupy Wall Street, invited a group of designer-activists to guest-curate an issue dedicated to the poster art of the global Occupy movement. The Occuprint Portfolio grew out of this.

The 31 hand-silkscreened prints in this portfolio were selected from hundreds of submissions from around the world. The portfolio is edited by Marshall Weber, director of Brooklyn Artists Alliance, and Jessie Goldstein, Dave Lowenstein and Alexandra Clotfelter.

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