TURNING POINT • The Center for Maine Contemporary Art, led by new director
Suzette McAvoy, takes on a revamped, of-the-moment mission
The old livery stable has been given a minimalist makeover. A broad arch extends over front doors that open to big, airy spaces, including a loft whose white-painted posts and beams make it look like a piece of installation art, which is apropriate for the home of the
Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport, Maine.
“Twenty years ago, it was one of the few places showing
contemporary art in Maine,” says the center’s new director, Suzette McAvoy. In the last two decades, the scene has
changed: Portland has become a hot spot for galleries, and
many museums throughout the state are now showing contemporary art. Moreover, Maine has become known for
quality studio programs in colleges and art schools. “There is
a surge of new work being produced here,” McAvoy says.
McAvoy, who took CMCA’s helm in early September,
hopes to point the organization in a new direction. “We can
stay closer to the moment of creation than a museum,” says
McAvoy, “and we can react quickly to current trends. We’re
not driven by sales; we show work that has to be seen now.
This spring, for instance, we’re doing a show of drawings and
watercolors by Steve Mumford, an artist from Tenants Harbor
who was embedded with troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
McAvoy, a highly respected art historian and former cura-
tor at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, an institution
known for its superb collection of 19th- and early 20th-century
Maine art, envisions the center’s role evolving into one akin to
Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art or the Massachusetts
Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams.
suzette mcavoy, the
new director of the
Center for Maine
stands in the former
barn turned gallery.
Under her guidance,
the center will focus
on showing work
“that has to be seen
now,” she says.