Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 20th, 2006
Strange Maine’s Michelle Souliere has written an excellent, in-depth July 20th blog reviewing the Bates Museum of Art’s show. Her long critique “Cryptozoology Exhibit: Mysterious & Kooky” has many photos of the art and shares her good insights.
It is merely one of those wonderful coincidences that I just posted something this morning about Marc Swanson’s sculpture that is located in this show. As fate would have it, what would appear in the blogsphere but Michelle with Swanson’s Yeti at Bates:
Michelle starts off her review by taking us, with her husband, along on her trek…
Tristan and I decided it was high time we went to see the recently opened Cryptozoology exhibit at the Bates College Museum of Art up in Lewiston, and seized our opportunity on July 8th, a fine Saturday….
We found the gallery space transformed into a cornucopia of luscious art of many sizes and types, each piece some variation on the theme of cryptozoology produced by artists enamored of its allure and allowed to play with the theme in their imagination. It goes without saying that the potential produced in such an environment is vast.
Jumping ahead, she writes:
We started out our tour, finding it difficult to pick what to look at first. Rachel Berwick’s beautifully cast Living Fossil: Latimeria chalumnae, a copal (premature amber) piece, caught our eye as soon as we walked in the door. Its translucent body silmultaneously reflected and captured the light of the room so magnificently it was difficult to tear ourselves away from it and its pearlescent prehistoric eye to look at the huge and eerily still graphite and acrylic canvases of Walmor Correa that hung behind it.
Michelle notes each exhibit specifically, and I recommend reading her complete blog. The entire exhibition is worthy of your time, including even the bizarre, as with the object pictured here with her husband:
Against this wall we also found another piece by Robert Marbury, this time the gregarious monster Nardog, with whom we made fast friends.
Michelle takes you on a slow tour of the two floors and many rooms of the Bates show. But all good things (at least until the next visit) must come to a close.
So comes the very end of the exhibition and her blog….
The last rooms of the exhibit house what for many is the main attraction — relics from the search for unknown anthropoids over the last hundred years or so, from Yeti expeditions to Sasquatch hunts, as painstakingly collected and curated by Loren Coleman. There is room for a lot of oohing and ahhing here, as old plaster casts and hair samples sit side by side with Ogopogo monster souvenirs from British Columbia in the 1970s.
These specimens are joined by one-of-a-kind illustrations from eye witnesses and eye-witness accounts of various mystery hominid sightings, which are fascinating and touch on our human relation to the whole phenomena on which the field of cryptozoology is built.
Over it all, like a benevolently intimidating patriarch, stands the 8-foot tall, 500-pound Crookston Bigfoot. If ever there was an inspiration to create a shrine to Bigfoot, this room is the starting point for it.
(The last “Museum of Cryptozoology” room is filled with all sorts of objects related to a wide variety of cryptids, from Mystery Cats casts collected in Australia and Maine to objects related to Lake Monsters and Sea Serpents, from Thylacine tracks and Yowie hair samples to Sasquatch scat and Yeti hair, from expedition flags to museum-quality skulls. But I understand how the Bigfoot material overwhelms.)
Michelle’s blog concludes…
We walked out of the show with a strange mix of feelings. The playfulness and the dread and mystery of many of the pieces is overwhelming and wonderful, an apt expression of our ambivalent love/hate affair with the natural world, as humanity tries to simultaneously preserve and destroy it selectively.
Beyond that gut reaction, there is a certain poignancy and wistfulness to the artists’ treatments of the Tasmanian Tiger that really settled in under our skin. From the footage of the last known specimen in captivity, to the portraits by Alexis Rockman, to the frozen sculpture by Rachel Berwick, and the metal sculpture of the tiger in his cage which casts an evocative shadow on the wall — all of these pieces point out that this is we have left of this unique creature — flickers and shadows.
Overall, I would highly recommend this show to anyone. The drive from Portland is shorter than you think, and easy driving directions are available… GO NOW!!! It’s up ’til October, but why wait???