Ogunquit Museum of American Art unveils 2024 season: Here's the lineup

Portsmouth Herald

OGUNQUIT, Maine — The Ogunquit Museum of American Art has announced its 2024 exhibition schedule for the upcoming season, which begins on Friday, April 12 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 17.

The new season will offer a debut exhibition by Brooklyn-based painter, Anthony Cudahy, entitled “Spinneret.” This will be the artist's first solo exhibition in the United States. Spanning the last half-decade of his career, this survey of more than 30 significant paintings—including new work—will explore Cudahy’s richly layered practice.

Two exhibitions will open for the second part of the season, which begins on Aug. 1. One is, “Lee Krasner: Geometries of Expression,” which sheds light on the often-overlooked early career of Lee Krasner and places her work within the context of her peers, in the 1930s and early 1940s. The other is an exhibition of works by Russell Cheney, “Domestic Modernism: Russell Cheney and Mid-Century American Painting,” which reframes and reasserts Cheney’s work within modernism in the United States at mid-century.

“Ogunquit has been a site for vanguard artists since the turn of the 20th century,” said Amanda Lahikainen, executive director of the Ogunquit Museum of American Art. “OMAA is recommitting itself to honoring this legacy by showcasing emerging and established artists from New England and across the country that speak to our contemporary moment, while also looking back and elevating this history of avant-garde exploration in the region.”

Ogunquit Museum of American Art exhibitions:

This painting by Brooklyn-based artist Anthony Cudahy (b. 1989) is titled "Tempest (rooftop)" and was created in 2021.

"Spinneret" (April 12–July 21)

Anthony Cudahy (b. 1989) pieces together enigmatic scenes of specific objects and equivocal environments from interwoven references drawn from queer archives, art history, film, poetry, friends, and his own autobiography. Through constellational arrangements of figures, or parts of figures, and emblematic objects, his work conveys the ever-fluctuating perspectives and meanings of our present virtual world.  Cudahy, though, anchors his compositions to passages of gentle tenderness, absent-minded repose, or banal isolation; prosaic instances that often carry the greatest poetic weight. His idiosyncratic palette—at moments sullen, earthen, corporeal, and at others high-key, acidic, artificial—animates the ongoing push and pull conceptually and materially across the artist’s practice. This early-career survey—the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States—will unpack these themes across a selection of more than 30 paintings spanning the last half-decade. It will also include a group of new works reflecting the most current developments in Cudahy’s practice. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog published by Monacelli Press.

This painting by Lee Krasner (1908–1984) is titled "Lavender" and was created in 1942.

"Geometries of Expression" (Aug. 1–Nov. 17)

This focused exhibition sheds light on the often-overlooked early career of Lee Krasner (1908–1984) and places her work within the context of her peers. In the 1930s and early 1940s, Krasner rose to prominence as a dynamic voice within the vanguard circles of contemporary artists living and working in New York City. During a period, fraught with socio-economic turmoil and political upheaval, the artist was politically active, taking part in the lively debates at the Artists Union as well as protesting the Museum of Modern Art. Her network was also far-reaching and animating. She forged relationships with artists within the orbit of European emigres like Piet Mondrian and Hans Hofmann and those who formed organizations such as the American Abstract Artists Group. "Geometries of Expression"explores how this rich exposure to politics and people shaped Krasner’s experimentations with geometric abstraction. The show consists of approximately 45 works, with notable examples by Krasner.

This painting by Russell Cheney (1881–1945) is titled "Windows by the Sea" and was created in the 1940s.

"Domestic Modernism: Russell Cheney and Mid-Century American Painting" (Aug. 1–Nov. 17)

This exhibition examines the artist Russell Cheney (1881–1945) and his relationship with his partner, the influential literary historian and critic F.O. Matthiessen (1902–1950). It seeks to marshal the term “domestic” to reframe and reassert Cheney’s work within modernism in the United States at mid-century.  First, the word suggests a focus on small-scale, figurative modern art—the kind produced by Cheney—that has been generally undervalued and understudied since it was overshadowed by the large-scale, gestural non-figuration of Abstract Expressionism. Second, “domestic” here also recognizes the importance of the local setting for Cheney’s production, which was the house in Kittery Point, Maine, which he shared with Matthiessen. By placing Cheney’s work in this domestic context, the exhibition and its catalog will contribute to a more expansive—and at the same time, more inclusive—view of mid-20th-century American modernism and will demonstrate the diversity of practices at the time. This exhibition is produced in collaboration with Vanderbilt University.  

This painting by Walt Kuhn (1877–1949) is titled "Sleeping Girl" and was created in 1922.

"Networks of Modernism" (April 12 through Nov. 17)

The Ogunquit Museum of American Art is pleased to offer viewers new ways of seeing the permanent collection in "Networks of Modernism."Drawing primarily from OMAA’s permanent collection, this exhibition maps the ways artists responded to the immense social, political, and economic changes affecting life in the United States over 70 years: from 1898—the founding of Charles Woodbury’s school in Ogunquit—to 1968. During this time, Ogunquit emerged as an important hub within a vast network of progressive art schools and communities that connected modern artists across the United States and abroad. Organized into a series of thematic groupings, Networks of Modernism contextualizes the artists who lived, worked, or frequented Ogunquit within a broader story of American modernism. Alongside well-known examples from OMAA’s holdings, the exhibition presents several works on view for the first time.  

This mural by Joe Wardwell (b. 1972) is titled "The Sea, Just Like Your Eyes, Became a Refuge" and was created in 2023.

"The Sea, Just Like Your Eyes, Became a Refuge: A Joe Wardwell Mural Commission" (April 12 through Nov. 17

Joe Wardwell (b. 1972) is a Boston-based painter and muralist. His work reflects on the traditions of landscape painting, literature, and popular music in the United States and delves into their interconnected role in defining the ideas and values of “Americanness.” "The Sea, Just Like Your Eyes, Became a Refuge" reflects on the powerful, yet fragile, point where sea and land meet. For this site-specific, exterior mural—the first for OMAA, and first since 2013 for the artist—Wardwell selected passages from"Notes from the Sea" (2024, White Pine Press)—a work by Chilean American author, human rights activist, and Ogunquit resident, Marjorie Agosín. The murals activate OMAA’s iconic modernist building and ask visitors to reflect on the churning of nature, culture, memory, and being that occurs at the edge of the ocean. 

Opening of the Museum of Art of Ogunquit, 1953, Henry and Lois Thompson Strater (left) with Robert Laurent (right) and Mimi Laurent cutting the ribbon.

"The Architect of a Museum" (April 12 through Nov. 17)

In 1953, Henry Strater in partnership with a group of artists and community members, opened the Museum of Art of Ogunquit (now the Ogunquit Museum of American Art). Reflecting on this milestone, this exhibition dives into the museum’s archives to explore the construction of OMAA’s original 1952 building designed by architect James Worley Jr., as well as the inaugural collection that was acquired for the building’s debut. A selection of the original architectural plans for the museum will be put on view for the first time alongside archival materials documenting the institution's opening. A group of works gifted by Strater that formed the founding collection of the museum will accompany this display. Together, this exhibition will bring visitors back to the start of a legacy over 70 years strong.