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Photography museum's inaugural show highlights local artists in Falmouth storefront

Lifestyle

Photography museum's inaugural show highlights local artists in Falmouth storefront

FALMOUTH — After the overwhelming success of last year's photography show "A Picture's Worth" at the Elizabeth Moss Galleries, Moss and photographers Denise Froehlich and Anne Zill got together and decided it was time Maine had a photography museum.

After nearly a year and a half of unpaid work, the trio will celebrate the museum's first exhibit, opening this week in the WM Home building at 190 Route 1 in Falmouth.

"We wanted to create a hub for Maine photographers," Froehlich said. "We have so much talent in this state, but not enough representation. This will be the first place dedicated solely to photography."

The inaugural installation of the Museum of Photographic Arts will open with "Capture," a group show, on Friday, April 2, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. After that, the installation will be open Thursday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., or by appointment until May 9.

The show will feature works by 50 Maine artists, whose pieces range from traditional still photography, to films, installations, mixed-media and encostics, to multi-media computer-based creations. Proceeds from the sale of displayed works will go toward acquisitions for the museum.

Froehlich explained that the Museum of Photographic Arts will be non-traditional in a number of ways.

It will only feature works from 1950 to the present, and will focus primarily on contemporary art. There will a be a range of artists, from the household names like William Wegman and Joyce Tenneson, to artists who have just begun their professional careers. It will include cutting-edge works utilizing modern technology and welcome a wide variety of photo and film-based art.

But most obviously, the new museum is unusual because it won't be contained in a brick-and-mortar structure. Instead, it will travel around the state filling various empty buildings and storefronts for brief periods of time. Organizers also hope to arrange exchanges with other galleries across the state, so people in different areas can enjoy the works.

"We're trying to be innovative," Froehlich said. "We want to make it sustainable."

In addition to the traveling museum, there will be a comprehensive Web site where hundreds of Maine photographers, filmmakers, multi-media and mixed-media artists can display their works. Currently, Froehlich said, the plan is to host 250 artists with five works a piece online. But the success of this goal depends entirely on funding.

The Museum for Photographic Arts is currently in the process of applying for nonprofit status and has also applied for grants to support acquisitions. In addition to that, the organization has teamed up with kickstarter.com, a Web site that solicits and bundles online donations for small arts organizations.

"We want to be a research source for students," Froehlich said. "We'll send works to art teachers to use in their classes, which is great in a time when programs and resources are getting cut."

Froehlich said that years ago, Maine was a destination for painters looking for inspiring locations. Now, she said, photographers and filmmakers are discovering how photogenic the state can be. However, despite the number of artists in the area, Froehlich said the public is not as aware of photography as it is of other types of visual art. She hopes the museum will help increase awareness of photography as an art form.

"The greatest stuff is happening here right now and nobody knows about it," Froehlich said. "The public doesn't have access to great photography. This is just a good idea at the right time."

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net