Bowdoin museum features Wegman works in exhibition

CLARKE CANFIELD Associated Press Published:

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- William Wegman is best known for his whimsical photographs of his beloved Weimaraners in various costumes and poses. But dogs are only a small part of his latest exhibition, which focuses on nature and features more than 30 years' worth of photographs, videos, paintings, drawings and writings that were produced in or inspired by Maine.

The retrospective, "William Wegman: Hello Nature," features more than 100 works, many of which were produced in the Rangeley region of western Maine, where he has spent summers for more than three decades.

The exhibition runs from July 13 through Oct. 21 at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick.

While in Maine, Wegman fishes, hikes and bikes, riding logging roads with his three dogs running alongside. He has owned a lakeside cabin since 1978.

The clouds, the sky, the water, the air, the coastline and the wildlife of Maine provide his inspiration.

"The most pleasant thing is the wind whistling through the birch trees into my studio," he told The Associated Press recently. "It's such a soothing feeling not to hear air conditioning buzzes or any sounds other than birds and the occasional child. Moose walk within 5 feet of the houses. Yesterday there was a bear on my sister's back steps."

Wegman, 68, grew up in rural Massachusetts and has long been inspired by the New England landscape. He first came to Maine at the age of 14, when he and his 16-year-old fishing buddy took a road trip to Rangeley.

He has had previous exhibitions in Maine, but the Bowdoin retrospective is the most wide-ranging of them all, with photos, videos, paintings, writing and drawings spanning more than 30 years.

Some of the works show his dogs in the woods, on the water and in the mountains of western Maine. But the exhibition also features drawings, photos and collages of western Maine and the coast.

The centerpiece of the show, he says, is a book he wrote in the 1990s called the "Field Guide to North America and to Other Regions," which contains paintings, drawings and writings on the natural world.

The exhibition's works demonstrate Wegman's engagement with nature throughout his career and how his view has been influenced by his years in Maine, said Diana Tuite, co-curator of the exhibition.

"Nobody had put all the works together looking at Maine as place but also as symbol and looking at all the different things Bill is doing here and what they all have in common," she said.