In his statement introducing the art show “Second Nature: Abstract Art From Maine”, A. Leroy Greason Professor of Art Mark Wethli quotes composer John Cage: “Art should imitate nature not in its appearance but in its manner of operation.” 

This sentiment is reflected throughout the exhibit. Each work reflects elements of nature in an unconventional manner.

“Maine is best known for its landscape traditions. I became aware of some artists whose work is abstract, but who think through nature,” said Wethli. “Their work shares principles with the natural world, not in appearance, but in the methods or structures of the natural world.”

The title “Second Nature” implies that these artists do not portray the elements of nature that are immediately visible. Rather, it means that they think through nature without representing it concretely in their work.  

The exhibit is the inaugural show of “The Curator Gallery,” founded by former Time Inc. CEO Anne Moore and located in New York City’s Chelsea Art District. 

Moore approached Wethli to curate the show with a specific subject in mind. 

“She wanted a show of all Maine artists, and she knew I was from Maine,” said Wethli.

The show features work from other members of the Bowdoin community, including Sculptor-in-Residence John Bisbee, former Visiting Professor of Art Meghan Brady, former lab instructor Andrea Sulzer and Cassie Jones ’01. 

The show opened March 6 to an enthusiastic crowd. 

“A lot of people were there from Maine, including Bowdoin alums and students, in addition to a lot of the New York art world,” said Wethli.

The show has been received extremely well, and a lot of the artwork has been sold already.  

Catalina Gallagher ’16 visited the gallery with Bowdoin friends over spring break. She noted the originality of the installations as well as their geometric connections to nature. 

She noted that it was “exciting to see Bowdoin’s presence outside of Brunswick.”

As curator, Wethli had to search out art that fit into his theme, but none of it was created specifically for the exhibit. 

“None of these artists works with my idea in mind,” said Wethli. “As curator, I notice a pattern in these independent artists. Therefore, I hope people will see a linkage between these artists and reflect on this.”

According to Wethli, this exhibit is of great significance to the visual arts department. 

“It’s always great when Bowdoin is visible in the world. It shows an engagement with contemporary art,” said Wethli. “Whenever faculty venture into the world, they always bring back more for their department.”

Wethli’s own art will be featured in two other shows in New York City this month. The first, titled “New Work”, consists entirely of Wethli’s work and will be on display in “The Painting Center” gallery. The second exhibit, “Higher Learning,” is on display at Lehman College and features art by 50 different professors.

“Second Nature: Abstract Art From Maine” and Wethli’s personal show “New Work” will both be open through April 19. “Higher Learning” will be open through April 12.