exhibitions > Painting Nerds // June 2 - July 16 2022

Painting Nerds; ABC Farewell Show
June 2 - July 16, 2022

In 2015 when Hilary and I began dreaming about an artist-run gallery that we thought Portland would benefit from, we promised each other that we would never show our own work, (A promise that we almost kept). BUT, we imagined that if and when the day came to close the doors, we would have a show of the community of directors, volunteers and artists who had made the gallery what it was. That gallery became Able Baker Contemporary, and that day has come!

It took me a while to clarify it for myself, but over the years I have come to realize that the heart of Able Baker is a passion for historical and contemporary painting (or, more generally, “stuff on walls”, as we call it). Another way of putting this is that everyone involved in the gallery has a profound nerdiness about painting. When Hilary and I decided in 2019 to step back from being the directors of ABC, we reached out to Tessa, as she was the only person who we could think of that shared the same passion and love for the medium of painting that we had. Tessa brought onboard the wit and vision of co-director Annika, and together they steered ABC through an amazing series of exhibitions (and through a pandemic!).

A central goal of ours has always been to contextualize Maine Artists in the larger “Art World”. We have attempted to do so, most notably, through our “Artist's Context Series”. In these shows we invited local artists to curate themselves into exhibitions that examine and explain their own work through proximity to both their peers and influences from all over the world. These 12 shows over the last 6 years are perhaps our proudest collaborations and achievements. The Artist/Curators of these shows worked tirelessly to create shows that not only showcased their own work, but more importantly, explained and contextualized important threads and ideas of the contemporary artistic landscape. Many of these artists are on display here, in Painting Nerds.

We are extremely proud of the place ABC has held in Maine’s rich artistic ecosystem, and are saddened by the Able Baker shaped hole that will remain. But all good things must come to an end, and we are thrilled by the emerging and growing community of artists and art venues in Maine.

I am filled with gratitude and admiration for what a talented and profound group of artists has created the Able Baker community. Maine has a long and well documented history of attracting the country’s best artists. Standing here today, looking around our final exhibition, it is clear that Maine is still a major epicenter of American painting.

-Stephen Benenson, June 2022