Joel Babb shows landscapes at museum of art

A major exhibition of Maine landscapes by Joel Babb, whose realist approach has made him a favorite with collectors all over the Northeast, opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25 at the Bates College Museum of Art with a discussion of Babb’s work by Stephen May, a noted authority on American art. The exhibit, lecture and subsequent reception for the artist are open to the public at no charge.

May will speak in Room 104, Olin Arts Center, 75 Russell St. The reception will be held in the museum, also located in the arts center. For information, please call 207-786-6158.

A resident of Buckfield and an instructor at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Babb has been a notable presence in New England art for more than 20 years. He is known for large, luminous, boldly colored paintings that combine traditional techniques with an approach to imagery and composition that is virtually photographic.

In Boston, Babb is especially well-known for cityscapes that include street-level views and a series depicting the city as seen from a helicopter, such as 1990’s “Copley Plunge.” In 1996, working in consultation with the doctors who performed the first successful kidney transplant, Babb finished a mural of that historic operation that is displayed in the Courtway Library at Harvard Medical School.

Babb’s work is represented in the collections of the Bates College Museum of Art, Harvard University’s Fogg Art Museum, the DeCordova Museum (Lincoln, Mass.) and numerous corporations and individuals. His exhibition venues have included the prestigious Sherry French Gallery and Gerold Wunderlich and Co. (both in New York City), Kathleen Dolan Fine Art (Boston), the Art Complex Museum (Duxbury, Mass.) and the Contemporary Art Center (Cincinnati, Ohio).

In Maine, he has shown at the Portland Museum of Art, the Ogunquit Art Museum, Frost Gully Gallery, Round Top Center for the Arts and Maine Coast Artists, among other venues. Intimate Wilderness is the fifth Bates exhibition representing Babb.

Stephen May is an independent historian, writer and lecturer about art, culture and historic preservation. He has a special interest in Maine art and artists, and has written and lectured extensively on artists ranging from Church and Homer to Bellows and Katz. He is a contributor to the forthcoming Encyclopedia of New England Culture.

May has lectured for organizations such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Ogunquit Museum of American Art and the Worcester Art Museum. He has written for such publications as American Artist, American Arts Quarterly, Art New England, ARTnews, Down East, Smithsonian magazine, the Chicago Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

The Bates College Museum of Art was founded to preserve the nation’s largest repository of Marsden Hartley drawings and other items relating to this important artist, a Lewiston native. Its holdings include a robust print collection and notable works by Maine artists with national significance, such as Dahlov Ipcar, the late William Thon, Neil Welliver and Charles Hewitt.

The flagship museum for the Maine Art Museum Trail, the Bates College Museum of Art is located in the Olin Arts Center, 75 Russell Street. Admission is free. The museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat. and 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Sun. The museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

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