Campus News

Visitors Invited to Paint on the Walls of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Story posted February 14, 2005

salon n. 1. A hall or gallery for the exhibition of works of art. 2. An assemblage of persons, usually of social or intellectual distinction, who frequent such a room

Many have had the experience of looking at paintings on the walls of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, but during the third week of February Museum visitors will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to paint on the Museum walls.

The scene in the Boyd Gallery February 24: painters choose their colors, brushes, and smocks.

In observance of the upcoming renovation of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, and with the European and American painting collections already on loan or in storage, the Museum has invited artist and A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Art Mark Wethli - in conjunction with members of his spring semester Painting I course - to create a mural on the empty walls of one of the Museum galleries.

The mural, titled Salon, will be painted from February 16-March 18 in the Boyd Gallery of the Walker Art Building on the Bowdoin College campus, and will remain on view through early June, when renovations are scheduled to begin.

To get the mural underway, people of all ages are cordially invited to stop by the Museum during its regular hours, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., any day from Tuesday, February 22, through Friday, February 25, to assist in the project - and to have a good time - by leaving their mark directly on the walls of the gallery.

A wide range of colors, brushes of all sizes, and smocks will be provided, but visitors may want to wear rough clothes as well.

No previous experience or special painting skills are required. Participants are invited to paint the walls freely with as many lines, marks, shapes, and colors as they like, but without resorting to words, letters, symbols, numbers, or recognizable images of any kind. This limitation is designed to unite individual efforts into a collective one through a common visual language - as well as a more spontaneous, inventive, and lively one - that will serve as a springboard for the work to follow.

A painter leaves her mark.

As various colors and markings begin to accumulate on the Boyd Gallery's nearly 2000 square feet of wall space, Professor Wethli and his students will begin adding other visual elements in response to the emerging effort, incorporating many of these marks into their finished design while necessarily covering other areas with additional shapes, patterns, and images as the mural progresses. Despite the fact that some of the initial painting will inevitably be painted over or partially obscured in this way, every mark will contribute a vital element to the richness and complexity of the finished piece.

Moreover, Salon is destined to be a temporary piece in itself as construction crews arrive in June to begin their work on the renovation. Nevertheless, the spirit of this effort - and even certain fragments of the actual painting, though hidden from view - will remain a part of the museum for the indefinite future, marking this important moment in the museum's history and evolution.

For more information, contact Mark Wethli at 207-725-3761 or

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