Natasha Mayers: An Un-Still Life

26 01 2021

And now….there’s a film about me!  See me paint! See me make Trump disappear!  See me fly!  Please go to NatashaMayers.org for more info!





War Chests – Artist statement

9 01 2021

This current War Chests series started in November 2019 during the impeachment hearings, when it was easy to visualize the President as an emperor, with or without clothes. The war chests are decorated with an array of medals, bars and stripes, epaulettes, braids, sashes, and tattoos. They are often headless, intoxicated with their own power, dangerous, blind, in a world full of violence toward one another and the planet, with men, historically, at the center of the problem. The work reflects anger, frustration, a sense of the absurd, and analysis of what masculine power, white privilege and tradition have wrought. I talk about what is scary and threatening to me/us with a touch of irony, humor, pattern, exuberant color, and eccentricity.

This series follows Men in Suits (2016) and Men in Trouble (2018) which followed World Banksters(2013). Men in suits materialized in my work soon after the financial crisis.





Men in Suits exhibit review by Carl Little in Hyperallergic

7 07 2015

MuseumsWeekend

Natasha Mayers: Here Come the Men in Suits

by Carl Little on June 13, 2015

PORTLAND, Maine — Natasha Mayers is a tried and true activist artist. With few exceptions, her art — paintings and murals and the banners she helps create as part of the Artists Rapid Response Team, or ARRT! — is focused on fighting for justice of every kind: racial, social, restorative, environmental — and calling out the bad guys. Her work ranges from the openly polemical and political to brilliant send-ups and witty rejoinders. She can do Leon Golub proud, but also channel Daumier.

In Men in Suits: Paintings by Natasha Mayers at the Maine Jewish Museum in Portland (through June 21), the painter continues her mission to speak truth to power, this time inspired by the financial crisis of 2008. Produced over the past four years or so, the 83 undated paintings in the show, all of them acrylic on canvas or board except for two monotypes with acrylic, play variations on the theme of men in suits. These are the corporate overlords who nearly ruined America and received bailouts and bonuses for their misdeeds — the wolves of Wall Street who inspired the Occupy movement.

In Mayers’ paintings, the suits, sometimes lacking heads, occupy everything: the landscape, boardrooms and bedrooms, farms. Their jackets, shirts and especially their ties turn up everywhere. Indeed, part of the appeal of the work in this show is related to the often clever way in which the painter incorporates business attire into the surroundings.

So the rocks in “Well-suited rocks” are, well, well-suited, their craggy shapes sporting the moneymen’s habilement. Likewise, the cliffs that overlook a boat full of abstracted veiled figures in “Refugee women” double as the torsos of the businessmen who traffic in immigrants.

Some of the most memorable pieces in the show are those that incorporate the suits in unusual configurations. In “Rollover,” the bodies of headless suited men follow the contours of a large bed surrounded by black shoes floating in an ambiguous, pinkish space. Mayers has taken that investment trading term and refigured it as a surreal image of brokers rolling over — as if, even in repose, they are playing their financial tricks.

The paintings often take their titles from the lingo of the business world: “Forced arbitration,” “Collusion,” “Underwater options,” and “Venture capitalists (crave scalable activities)” are a few. “Trickle down” shows four headless men in suits pissing what looks like blood.

In “Commodity Traders,” the table around which the faceless market manipulators gather is a farm, with grazing cows — they own the lay of the land. The men in “Corporate tax dodgems” drive those bumper cars one finds in a carnival. A distant relative here: James Ensor’s “Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889” (1888).

Mayers’ work fills up nearly all of the available space in the Maine Jewish Museum, which is housed in the former Etz Chaim Synagogue, a turn-of-the-century immigrant-era house of worship. In some cases she has used doorways, stairwells and other features of the space to set off thematic clusters. For example, nine paintings in one stretch of the entrance hallway revolve around medals and uniforms and the military folks who wear them. The titles help confirm their identity: “Neo-cons,” “War profiteers,” “Medal man.” In “Award ban(k)quet,” three huge medals hang behind a row of stick generals seated at a long table. Some lyrics from Tim Buckley’s late-‘60s anthem “Goodbye and Hello” come to mind: “The vaudeville generals cavort on the stage/And shatter their audience with submachine guns.”

On the basis of several paintings, Mayers would fit nicely into “The Guston Effect” show now at the Steven Zevitas Gallery. It’s not just the figures wearing triangular hoods in “Secret Society” and “Brotherhood” that provoke comparisons, but more generally, perhaps, the clunky—and strangely endearing—stylizations (don’t forget Guston’s Richard Nixon series). A similar connection could be made to Katherine Bradford’s paintings of Superman.

While we’re on aesthetic kinships, the distorted faces in Mayers’ “Secret society,” “Payday lenders at target practice” and several other paintings are reminiscent of Alan Magee’s Xerox collage portraits from the late 1980s of figures and faces that reflect the wages of sin and profit: “Gold Card” (1988), “Disinformation” (1988), and others. The aim is similar: represent mammon in a memorable manner.

At the same time, Mayers’ drive to respond to a specific ill/issue brings to mind Susan Crile’s 2006 series of drawings based on the infamous photographs taken at Abu Ghraib, the American-run prison in Baghdad. Crile was compelled, she said, to expose the images “as markers of brutality and viciousness,” using chalk to underscore the fragility of the victims.

Mayers, who lives in Whitefield, Maine, began her campaign to expose these predatory lenders, global pirates and their ilk by inserting them into hundreds of tourist postcards from around the world. These “World Bankster” collages, begun in the years following the recession, are clever and inventive — and are apt to provoke a laugh as much as a sneer. That sense of humor is what sometimes saves Mayers’ pieces from being a simple lash-out diatribe.

Are 83 paintings of men in suits overkill? Remarkably, Mayers maintains a level of outrage — and art —that holds one’s attention. Certainly, a few of these diss-of-the-day paintings might have been culled, if only to give their neighbors more room to make their point, but the dull moments are rare. If Monet could paint a hundred haystacks, who’s to say Ms. Mayers can’t offer 80-plus riffs on men in suits?

More to the point does the suit symbol work? Mayers at times seems to be putting the image through its paces for the sake of carrying the theme, but in the end the business attire seems perfectly tailored, if you’ll excuse the pun, to the painter’s resentment. If the suits are something of an easy target, they are contorted and refigured with enough variation and joie de put-down that we remain engaged.

In truth, the line between art and political expression doesn’t exist for Mayers. She is open about her calling and she believes others should follow suit. The citation Robert Shetterly chose for his portrait of her, from his “Americans Who Tell the Truth” series, reads in part, “We need artists to help explain what is happening in this country, to tell the truth and reveal the lies, to be willing to say the emperor has no clothes, to create moral indignation, to envision alternatives, to reinvent language.” May others follow Mayers’ example and take up the loaded brush.

Men in Suits: Paintings by Natasha Mayers continues at the Maine Jewish Museum (267 Congress Street, Portland, Maine) through June 21.





review by Dan Kany of Men in Suits exhibit

7 07 2015

Art review: Paintings by Natasha Mayers at Maine Jewish Museum

‘Men in Suits’ is a surprising call to arms.  May 17, 2015, Portland Press Herald

“They Write the Rules”

One of the most difficult things to convey about Western art history is the presence of the Church. The Church was the law, philosophy, cosmology, ethics, morals and essentially the very personality of Western society. Most art and music was commissioned in the name of the Church. Crossing the Church didn’t work out for anyone – particularly artists.

The 84 works in Natasha Mayer’s exhibition at the Maine Jewish Museum, “Men in Suits,” are not about the Church. But they address a similar effect: the deep and buried relationship between culture and the ultimate seat of society’s power.

“Men in Suits” is something like a sweeping survey of modern and contemporary painting into which have been painted figures of dark suits with white shirts and red ties. The figures read easily enough as a view of “The Man,” in this case the financial players at the core of the collapses that led to the Great Recession.

According to Mayers: “‘Men in Suits’ materialized in my work soon after the financial crisis, when the predatory practices that wrecked the housing market and economy came to light. The people responsible were rewarded with bailouts and bonuses. I thought they needed to be exposed, so I inserted them into hundreds of postcard scenes from around the world. Now they are inhabiting my paintings, where they meet, trade, plot, swindle, gamble, and swarm.”

I had seen Mayers’ statement and some of her works. But the isolated works gave me no warning about their overwhelming impact en masse.

Mayers’ style is loose, and it’s anything but fussy or precious. Her work doesn’t translate well in photographs because it incorporates the transparent qualities of many pigments. (Transparency has been playing a growing role in Maine painting, to the point I have to wonder what’s behind it: improvements in acrylic media, maybe, or a response to artists returning to oil and acrylic after trying encaustic?)

“They Write the Rules,” for example, is a 2-foot-wide horizontal canvas that depicts three empty suits acting as though they had men in them. They are situated across from a dark and heavy form that might be a boardroom table. It’s like a scene from “Mad Men” painted by Egon Schiele – only without the men.

The image is rich and successful as a painting. The surface jumps and flickers with energy. The style is pulled taught over the entire surface. The composition reveals a well-educated sensibility that didn’t miss out on Leonardo’s lessons about pyramidal forms.

Or is that pyramid schemes?

Undoubtedly, it’s both. But neither is over-balanced and it’s an excellent painting on several easily legible levels.

The absence of actual figures from most of the suits makes the work much harder to pin down. Instead of blaming this or that specific guy, Mayers leads us to consider broader, systemic issues of our society. We all play roles, she hints. Anyone who puts on that suit is part of this issue – and anyone can put on that suit. The idea of the suit as oppressive uniform looks to real dangers both long past and recent.

When Mayers’ paintings lean toward the styles labeled “entartete kunst” (the “degenerate art” targeted by Hitler) – which is her default mode – the connections ignite.

But this is where “Men in Suits” gets complicated. Instead of a “those jerks” mentality, Mayers entreats us with wisdom along the lines of Santayana’s “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” She challenges us to deconstruct our society’s power – and therefore its cultural trajectories and their underlying sources of fuel.

Yet she also challenges us not to let individuals walk free of consequences when they have committed great harm. Collective response, she hints, can also redirect systems. It’s savvy, radical and empowering ethic – and Mayers makes a compelling case that artists have the ability as well as the moral obligation to take action. She makes the case that culture can and should stand up for society.

What expands the reach of her content so unexpectedly is Mayers’ vast stylistic range. She not only elicits artists like Marsden Hartley and Anselm Kiefer, she takes them deep. Hartley appears in Mayers’ “Award Ban(k)quet,” for example, in ways that relate to his seminal “Portrait of a German Officer,” his symbolically complex “Black Horse” and his altar-esque images in memoriam of young fisherman friends lost off Nova Scotia.

In other words, these aren’t simple copies into which Mayers inserts suits: They analyze their prey with a critical eye.

Despite the heavy content, I was charmed by the paintings. Some are funny. Some are brilliant. Some are hilarious. The pulsing circuit of “Forced Arbitration,” for example, is gorgeous. The first painting, “Well-Suited Rocks,” in which the boulders of a Maine landscape adorn suits, is a genuinely impressive Keinbusch-esque Maine landscape painting. The visual swirl of “Roulette, or Everybody Knows the Game Is Rigged” features one of the most exciting compositions I have seen anywhere in a long time.

“Plutocrats Burial Ground” is a jumpy and dense cemetery painting that achieves impressive polyrhythms. “Hands Up” combines the power of Kiefer with the flayed rawness of Chaim Soutine; only instead of sides of meat, there are empty suits hanging in the slaughterhouse. “Power Couples” offers up lighthearted and echoed repeated charm, but the smile fades to discomfiture as darker implications fade into view.

What is particularly unexpected is how “Men in Suits” plays into the national fascination with zombies. This slashing dose of the uncanny somehow manages to both condemn the suit-men as insidiously dangerous and treat them with compassion – they are not in control of the destructive powers they wield so recklessly. To be a sociopath, after all, is to be sick. And to be sick is to not be yourself.

Mayers’ men in suits reveal societal sickness. But we cannot tell if they are the original pathology or merely the symptoms. They might be dangerous to us and they may cause harm, but they do not necessarily have the agency to act of their own accord. So, if we want to fix the problem, we have to probe deep into our culture.

And when you can paint as well as Natasha Mayers, digging deep isn’t out of reach. For the rest of us, it’s a call to arms: To fix the problem, we must take action. And the first step is to look deep.

Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:





Men in Suits, paintings at Maine Jewish Museum, opening May 7, 2015

24 04 2015

Men in Suits materialized in my work soon after the financial crisis, when the predatory practices that wrecked the housing market and economy came to light. The people responsible were rewarded with bailouts and bonuses. I thought they needed to be exposed, so I inserted them into hundreds of postcard scenes from around the world. Now they are inhabiting my paintings, where they meet, trade, plot, swindle, gamble, and swarm.

They loom and commandeer the landscape. They can get away with doing whatever they want, assured of their place and their right to be there.

They are often the perpetrators, culpable for many of the world’s problems, but sometimes they become the victims of even bigger forces, caught in waves or parched earth, hardened into rocks, stuck in the mudflats or fog, recycled into asphalt, imprisoned, trapped in their suits, headless and not knowing which head to put on.

The subject continues to interest me because men in suits, at the nexus of corporate, financial, and military power, help to explain what we are doing as a country. They reveal our shared sense of entitlement and belief in the American Dream and the national myth of U.S. exceptionalism. They represent our intoxication by those values that put profit ahead of morality. We grant them immunity from prosecution and let them steal our jobs, our savings, our homes, and make endless war.

I hope you will bring your own interpretations and narratives to these images.





World Bankster postcards exhibit at Space Gallery, artist statement

4 03 2013

The banksters are the predators, profiteers, the money men, the global banking cartel

that I insert into each postcard scene, in every possible situation, where you least

expect them. They are anonymous, faceless, often headless, trapped in a suit and tie,

which is like a costume/uniform, straitjacket, a mask, like armor. Sometimes they are

a dominating, looming presence, usually unexpected and inappropriate (what the f—

is going on??!!!!). Postcards share a moment, a quick connection from far away, tell

little stories, serve as a travelogue. They are often from exotic places. These little

paintings are my comment on capitalism, post-colonialism, globalization, cultural

appropriation, cultural authenticity and differences, sexism, etc.

(artist statement from exhibit at Space Gallery, Portland, Maine,  February-March, 2013)





Natasha Mayers Resume

16 11 2010

2017

Natasha Mayers

mayersnatasha@gmail.com

Selected Solo Exhibitions:

2021 Natasha Mayers: An Un-Still Life, 38 minute film by Anita Clearfield and Geoffrey Leighton, part of Maine Masters series

2018 Men in Suits/Men in Trouble, Harlow Gallery, Hallowell, (invited Kenny Cole)

2016 and 2017 Pay Attention! It’s Independence Day, parade props and photographs from 30 years of Whitefield 4th of July parades, at USM Area Gallery and Michael Klahr Center, UMA

2015 Maine Jewish Museum, Portland, Maine, Men in Suits

2013  Space Gallery, Portland, Maine, World Banksters

2006 University of Maine at Lewiston-Auburn, Atrium, Signs of the Times
2005 University of Maine at Presque Isle, Bearing Witness
2003 Aucocisco Gallery, Portland, Maine, State of War map paintings
2001 Railroad Square, Waterville, Towards a regional road map of Maine
2000 Southern Ohio Museum, Portsmouth, Ohio, photographs of pole paintings And road map paintings

2000 Davidson and Daughters Gallery, Portland, Towards a regional Road map of Maine
1998 Davidson and Daughters Gallery, Portland, painted columns, acrylic and vinyl tape
1998 Downtown Gallery, Washington, painted columns
1997 Gallery House, Nobleboro, Social Fabric (monotypes)
1996 Gallery House, Nobleboro – with Katherine Bradford
1994 Maine Coast Artists, Rockport, Inside/Outside drawing series
1994 College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor: Blum Gallery, monotypes

Selected Group Exhibitions:

2021 Untitled, 2020: Art from Maine in a ________ Time, Portland Museum of Art (ARRT! installation: 15 yard signs painted by Artists’ Rapid Response Team, collaboration with Lincoln Co. Indivisible.

2020 I am an American, Cove Street Gallery, Portland (war chest series) (with Minter, Shetterly, Longfish, Meiselman)

2018 Some Reliable Truths about Chairs, UMVA Gallery, Portland

2017  America Now….. A Dialogue, Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, UMA, and Portland Library

2017 Light in the Dark: Art As a Sane Voice in an Insane World, CTN Gallery, Union of Maine Visual Artists, Portland, curated by Rachel McDonald

2017 Nasty Women, Knockdown Center, Queens

2017  Post-Election Show, September Gallery, Hudson, NY

2017 The American Experi(ence)ment, An Artful Response
(artists fired up, outraged, motivated, in shock, distressed, or disillusioned by the campaign, election and aftermath of 2016, Urban Farm Fermentory, Portland

2016 Men in Suits, curated by Fran Kaufman, Long-Sharp Gallery Project Space,24 West 57 Street, Suite 606, NYC

2016 Monsters, CTN Gallery, Union of Maine Visual Artists, Portland

2015 AFSC touring exhibit, All of Us or None:  Responses and Resistance to Militarism ,  Butler University, NPT Review Conference NYC, Hairpin Arts Center Chicago, New England, Greensboro, NC, San Francisco

2013 Women Pioneers:World Vision, University of New England

2013 Occuprint, ar/ge kunst Galerie Museum in Bolzano, Italy,  Kunstverein

2012  Occupy Art! Union of Maine Visual Artists in Action, Harlow Gallery, Hallowell

Feb 28 – March 28, 2008. Untraceable is an exhibition of artists’ responses to political control, violence and torture. The exhibition is curated by Cooley Gallery director Stephanie Snyder, and is inspired by the work of Reed College political science professor Darius Rejali, an internationally recognized expert on modern torture and the author of Torture and Democracy (Princeton, 2007). Untraceable explores the invisible and covert forms of violence that have come to characterize both modern torture and political oppression. The exhibition includes painting, photography, sculpture and new media.

The group exhibition is curated by Stephanie Snyder, Curator, Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College, with contributions by Stuart Horodner, Curator, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, Georgia and Mack McFarland, Exhibitions Coordinator, Pacific Northwest College of Art.

PARTICIPATING ARTISTS:
Nubar Alexanian
Hans Haacke
Adam Helms
Emily Jacir
Natasha Mayers
Walid Raad

2007 Weather Report: Art and Climate Change, curated by Lucy Lippard, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

some of the participating artists included: the Yes Men, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Marjetica Potrc, Chrissy Orr, Mary Miss, Pierre Huyghe, Agnes Denes, and Helen and Newton Harrison

2007 Censorship, Brecht Forum, NYC

2007 Portraits of Guantanamo, Amnesty International, Lincoln St. Center for the Arts, Rockland

2006 Innovative Techniques/Alternative Surfaces in Printmaking,
Maine Print Project, UMA, Augusta
2005 2005 Biennial, Portland Museum of Art
2005 Warflowers: From Swords to Plowshares, USM, UMF, Camden Library,
College of the Atlantic (Blum Gallery), 44 artists curated by N Mayers
2004 Naked, June Fitzpatrick Gallery, Portland (curated by Katherine Bradford)
2004 The Personal is Political, Area Gallery, University of Southern Maine
2004 Family Values, installation with 3 Monkeys Collective, in New
England/New Talent
, Fitchburg Art Museum
2004 Eliminating Racism, Galeyrie, Falmouth, Maine
2004 Drawing is a window, Chocolate Church, Bath, Me.
2003 Mapping Maine: Four Contemporary Views, Portland Museum of Art
(with Yvonne Jacquette, Sam Cady, and Eric Hopper)
2002 Preserving Memory: American‘s Monumental Legacy, Smithsonian
2002 9/11: Prelude to an Apocalypse, University of New England, Portland
2002 Past, Present, Future(50th Anniversary Invitational), Maine Center
for Contemporary Art, Rockport, Maine
2002 The Day We Saw the Edge of the Earth, Firehouse Gallery, Damariscotta
2001 Reactions: Public Response to 9/11, Exit Art, NYC
2001 Library of Congress permanent collection: Witness and Response
2001 Sense of Place: Visual Arts and the Environment, Chewonki Foundation
2000 Domestic Culture: Home in Visual Culture, Institute of Contemporary Art ,
Maine College of Art, curated by Mark Bessire
2000 On Paper – Maine Art Gallery with Jacquette, Bradford, and Hildreth
1999 Past Personal/Present Personal– University of Maine at Augusta
1997 The Eccentric Image – Icon Gallery, Brunswick
1996 Skowhegan at 50 – Maine Coast Artist Gallery and Maine College of Art
1996 Mother Tongue – A visual dialogue originating in Amherst, Ma, and exhibited in many locations, curated by Mary Bernstein (Queens Center for the Arts, 2007)

1994 Lure of the Local – Curated by Lucy Lippard, UC at Boulder
1994 10 x 10 show, Portland (also in 1995 – 2000)
1990 Home installations in Congress street storefronts in Portland
1989 Farnsworth Museum 40th Anniversary Show
1987 Inside/Outside: Private Art show, USM UMO Hampshire College
1987 Maine Coast Artists, Rockport: since 1975: Works on Paper, Promising Younger Artists, Skowhegan Graduates, Maine Women Artists

Awards:

Abbey Mural Workshop Fellowship, National Academy of Design, 2008

Great Spruce Head Island 2011, awarded fully-funded residency
Peacemaker Award, Peace Action Maine, January 28, 2006
Americans Who Tell the Truth, travelling exhibit of portraits by Robert
Shetterly of historical and contemporary Americans who “have had a
profound impact on American life”, now includes a portrait of Natasha
Arthur Hall Award, 2005, “for an artist whose work, community service
and commitment to their craft that inspires others around them to reach to
their highest potential” (criteria: a history of creating positive change
through the arts throughout the state of Maine; fostering quality artistic
expression and the integration of the arts into daily life; inspiring others to
use the arts as a tool to bridge gaps in their community)
Millennium Artist, a national residency program of the National
Endowment for the Arts: Artists and Communities: America Creates for
the Millennium (a White House project), 2000, 3 months in Portsmouth,
Ohio (only artist in Maine to be chosen out of 90 in Maine who applied)
Individual Artist’s Fellowship 1998 Visual Arts Maine Arts Commission
Maine Alliance for Arts Education’s Bill Bonyun Award in 1995, for
community arts, presented at Portland Museum of Art
New England Foundation for the Arts, Artists Projects: New Forms
Award for utility pole-painting project for 20 poles painted by me in
February 1996-( painted 45 poles)
Maine Humanities Council Century Project grant for documenting pole
project in 1996
Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts funded residency by Maine Arts
Commission in 1993
Zorach scholarship to Skowhegan School of Painting in 1976

Mural Making Residencies and Teacher Workshops and Community Murals
As Maine Arts Commission Visiting Artist: (some highlights of the 500+murals)

2016 Artist-in-Residence at University of Southern Maine, completing large outdoor historical mural about Gorham, and three installations of buoys painted with the flags of the 78 countries represented by students in Portland schools, Welcoming New Mainers, at the Maine Historical Society (hung outdoors), USM Skywalk in Portland, and at the Portland Jetport (on second floor at exit)

2009 Lubec Arts Alive in Lubec, “arting up the town”,working with community to paint a bicentennial mural, portraits of beloved members of the community, visual street signs, storefronts, and more

2009 Bicentennial Mural project with Whitefield School 7th grade and community members

2009 Upward Bound students, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Me.

2009 under auspices of VSA (Very Special Arts), worked at Spurwink School, Cornville, with severely emotionally-disturbed youth

2005 Tile project with 150 Portland residents, making clay tiles that are cast into bronze and inserted into the sidewalk on Congress St., Portland Mayor’s Office and the Public Art Committee (working with Portland Coalition for the Psychiatrically-Labelled, Center for Cultural Exchange, and Portland Parks and Recreation at Reiche School)

2005 American Hero/ine Portrait project, Whitefield School 5th grade, Whitefield Historical Society with grant from Maine Humanities Council

2004 Changing Face of Maine, Peace Action Maine, artist-in-residence, Riverton School, Portland, traveling exhibit of self-portraits by culturally-diverse 5th graders (portraits and bios travelled to rural schools)

Auburn Great Wall community mural 692′ long, City of Auburn and
Lewiston/Auburn Arts…

Artists in Communities project; Millennium Artist in Portsmouth, Ohio,
for 3 months, Southern Ohio Museum

Whitefield School, pole-painting project with 4th-5thgrade; History of town and people’s life stories painted on 17 Central Maine Power utility poles

Heifer International, New American Sustainable Agriculture Project,
Lewiston, Maine, mural
Calais Middle School Champlain mural for Visitor Center
Brunswick Area Arts and Cultural Alliance
Androscoggin Gifted and Talented Program (Bau Graves)
Mesalonskee Gifted and Talented Program
MECA Summer Program (Pleasant Street Park mural and Congress St.
University of Southern Maine Summer Art Institute

Center for Cultural Exchange ………………Reiche School, Portland
Spindleworks………………………………..Gardiner Community Mural .
Lewiston-Auburn AIDS Coalition…………. Tanglewood 4-H Camp
Hall-Dale Middle School……………………Aroostook Arts Institute
Gardiner High School………………….. …..Saco Middle School Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy Reservation.. Plummer-Motz School Winthrop community murals four years…….Gray, Raymond schools

Community Arts Organizer: (some highlights)

Founder and Editor of the Maine Arts Journal: UMVA Quarterly, a project of the Union of Maine Visual Artists (UMVA), January 2014 to the present (editorial board: Nora Tryon, Alan Crichton, Jeffrey Ackerman, and Dan Kany) (present editorial board: Natasha, Nora Tryon, Kathy Weinberg, Veronique Plesch, Betsy Sholl)

Project co-ordinator of the Artists’ Rapid Response Team (ARRT!), (http://arrteam.org/) a project of the Union of Maine Visual Artists, creating positive social change in Maine through the arts.  ARRT! has been working for 8 years to create issue-oriented banners to promote the work of more than 100 progressive non-profits throughout the state, to help them gain media attention, hold our public officials accountable, and shape public opinion. ARRT! meets monthly, usually in Brunswick (now in Bowdoinham), and includes artists from throughout the state. It’s a true collaboration. ARRT!ists share their images, text ideas and concepts; critique and distill the graphic designs, and work together, seeking feedback or assistance as theypaint. They’ve painted over 400 banners to be used at demonstrations, rallies, and press conferences, and town meetings, as well as constructed puppets and art objects to enhance parades and marches.  “A visual message is vital for communicating a group’s message, “ states Anita Clearfield.  “The press appreciates having something of interest to focus on and the public gets involved with the emotion or sense of humor in the imagery we create.As artists we have ways to capture and captivate people’s attention that are creative and non-threatening. We can make ideas visible.” I am feeling elated about how ARRT! has expanded the voices of Maine’s communities,” states member, Nora Tryon.  “We have provided a visual megaphone for so many important issues and the people that care about those issues.” Some of the groups that ARRT! has been working with include: Thanks but No Tanks, MaineAllCare, Alliance for the Common Good, Maine 350, Maine People’s Alliance, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Stop the Corridor/ Friends of the Piscataquis Valley, Move to Amend, Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, Global Network, States United Against Gun Violence, March against Monsanto, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Southern Maine Workers’ Center, Defending Water for Life, and Community Water Justice, Maine State Nurses Association, Maine Fair Trade Campaign. Penobscot Nation, Wabanaki Truth and Reconciliation, Food AND Medicine, Mano en Mano, Immigrant Resource Center, and many more.

Some of the member ARRT!ists include: Nora Tryon, Anita Clearfield, Suzanna Lasker, Chris Higgins,  Richard Brown Lethem, Doreen Conboy, Mary Becker Weiss, Lee Chisholm, Deb Fahy, Susie Drucker, Jean Noon, Robin Huntley, Val Porter, Nikki Millonzi, Renu O’Connell, Jane Page-Conway, Robin Brooks, and Natasha Mayers.

 For more information about the Artists’ Rapid Response Network (ARRT!), please see their Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/pages/ARRT/142581872576727 or website at arrteam.org

Maine Draw-a-thon (2010): 40 Maine artists came together to draw images of how they want their war dollars (taxes) spent, as part of the Bring Our War Dollars Home campaign, with Kenny Cole and Union of Maine Visual Artists, followed by: Draw-In at the Maine State House, where the artists presented their legislators with hundreds of ‘zines created at the draw-a-thon, and drew passersby requests for how they would like their taxes spent, and artwork was delivered all around the offices. Press conference with artists, poets, musicians, organizers, followed by: Drawathon at Space Gallery, Portland, Veterans Day, 2010, in which 44 artists came together to draw how they want their war $$ spent and portraits of veterans and how they would like to spend that money. Drawathon  III (January, 2011), Portland Public Library, and at Printathons held at Circle the Square, Steve Burke’s and Harlow Gallery we silkscreened posters.

Occupy Art! Union of Maine Visual Artists in Action  exhibit at the Harlow Gallery,  Hallowell, April, 2012, co-curated with Nora Tryon and Kenny Cole. This exhibit captures the spirit and ongoing creative energy of the UMVA’s recent history of “art in action”, which began prior to the Occupy movement.  The drawings and silk-screen prints were created (2010-2) through UMVA efforts to organize and create imagery around economic and social justice issues, and  includes art created at Draw-A-Thons, Print-A-Thons and Draw-Ins around Maine.

Lubec Arts Alive 2009, a model of community revitalization through the arts. Twelve artists from the Union of Maine Visual Artists went to Lubec for a week to “art up the town”. They brought their energy, vision, skills, and willingness to serve. Some of the artists involved were Robert Shetterly, Kenny Cole, Rose Marasco, Karen Adrienne, Diane Dahlke, Barb Sullivan, Alan Crichton, and Brown Lethem. They painted people’s portraits, a historical mural for the bicentennial, iconic signs for the town, and decorated storefronts,  Community members helped paint the mural and signs, conducted interviews as portraits were painted, photographed and filmed, and fed and housed us. We gave slide shows, held a public viewing of the portraits, and had a sign sale to raise money for the next year’s events.

Columbus and the New World Order art show
Home installations on Congress Street in Portland storefronts to call attention to homelessness issue, 1990 (for Portland New Year’s)
Inside/Outside: Private Art show at University of Southern Maine, University of Maine at Orono, Hampshire College
Organized an extensive exhibition schedule of mental health consumer art;
Mural-painting projects in the tunnels of AMHI (state mental hospital)

4th of July parades in Whitefield
The most effective art that I do might be in my hometown. For every 4th of July parade in Whitefield (for at least 20 years) we make a float about  current, potentially divisive issues, like global warming, tax cuts for the wealthy, clear cutting, our addiction to oil, Gulf oil spill, etc. We always provoke laughter, thought, and puzzlement. We find that humor and creativity disarm people and get them to pay attention, like having grown men in diapers try to lift the national debt.   Or a gas-guzzling  SUV that eats protestors, and life-size camels dancing through the eye of a 17 ft. needle.

Other Work Experience: (highlights)

Everyman Repertory Theater’s, Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Bertold Brecht, 2017, Rockland, created two dozen projections for performance

Common Dreams.org’s artist-in-residence 2007-8.
I created a piece of art about a current issue for their daily email of headlines, news, and views. Like a political cartoonist “commenting” on the news, I  created, in a photo collage or painting, a playful and/or deadly serious response each day, a thought-provoking, open-for-interpretation visual image. I wanted it to be a surprise for the readers, something fresh and unexpected to look forward to seeing.
Since I often work in series, the same issue was dealt with in various ways for a few days, with a touch of irony, humor, pattern, exuberant color, and eccentric configurations.
Art can play an important role in helping us see, ask hard questions, and in moving us to act. It can sometimes touch us and make us feel, not just know, the important issues. Art can help us feel our feelings when things are scary, and help us reflect on who we are and what we are doing as a nation. It can help us get more in touch with our unease about what’s going on, and help us sense the emergency and the madness of it. Grief can open the heart to courage and compassion, and outrage can move us to an active and moral response.

Salvadoran Artists Association (ASTAC), work, studied and lectured at the University of El Salvador
International Arts for Peace (Children are the Future) 3-weeks in U.S.S.R. to supervise the painting of the first public painted bus in the Soviet Union
Boston Arts for a New Nicaragua, first U.S. Artists Brigade invited by the Ministry of Culture to paint 17’ x 80’ mural in Granada
Peace Corps Volunteer, Gombe, Nigeria; taught art and literature

Public speaker:

Convocation speaker at University of Maine at Lewiston-Auburn, 2007
Presenting slide show and talk about my work, Art and Social Responsibility, Social Activism in the Classroom, Art and Community, Women, Art, and War (USM), Making Art about Conflict (Creativity and Social Change, UMF),  at 35 schools, conferences, etc.

2012, Pecha Kucha, Waterville, talk about Lubec Arts Alive,

2013,  talk at Belfast Congregational Church, Americans who tell the truth concert

Talk at MECA, mainescapes: art in maine here and now.interdisciplinary class class,agnes bushell and joan uraneck 2013

Set Designer:

Gravel, Grovel, Gorilla, Aw Henry, The Complete History of Whitefield – Sets for three original plays by Art Mayers
Arterial – Choreographed by Sam Costa, Ram Island Dance Company
Art Circus at the Maine Festival, Bowdoin College: created the House of Real Horrors – Six rooms of politically-motivated art about United States policy in Central America

Performance Art:

Maine Story Project at the Maine Festival: It All Comes Out in the Wash
Fusion grant from Real Artways, Hartford, collaboration with Mark
Melnicove on Resolutions – Directed play and designed the set
Red, White and Blue vs. Red and Black at the Portland Museum of Art
with Mark Melnicove, 1985
I Dream the Dream You Dream – Multi-media performance with
Melnicove at the Maine Festival in 1984

Education:

1967 Sarah Lawrence College, BA
Academy of Art, Rome, Italy, junior year
1968 Antioch Graduate School of Education, Yellow Springs, Ohio, MAT in
Social sciences
1974-6 Unity College, studied painting with Leonard Craig
1975 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture

Publications:

Aligulova, Ulya, I am an American, Amjambo Africa, Jan.7,2021, https://www.amjamboafrica.com/i-am-an-american-at-cove-street-arts/

Beem, Edgar Alan, Art in Maine: Contemporary Perspectives, Natasha Mayers, by Nicholas Schroeder, 2015

Beem, Edgar Alan ,Maine Art Now, Dog Ear Press, Gardiner,
Me., 1990 Abby Shahn and Natasha Mayers, Natasha Mayers and Kathy Bradford, and Inside/Outside: Private Art
Beem, Edgar Alan, Maine Times:
Natasha Mayers Making a Difference Through Art, Dec. 25, 87
Two Stars of the 3rd Magnitude, June 11, 1982
Prayer and Protest, Aug. 5, 1988
Barak, Marcy Black, What’s in a map? PortCity Life, May/June, 2003
Ensign, Betty, Still Life, Sarah Lawrence Alumnae Magazine, 2001
Farr, Maureen, I’m a Community Artist and Activist Artist-interview: cover
story: Preview! February 1st-28th, 1994, p. 8-9
Gold, Donna, Maine Profile, Maine Progressive, Oct. 86
Gold, Donna, Natasha Mayers Unplugged, Kennebec Journal, Jan 7-8,
1995 color feature
Graves, Laurie Meunier, Mapping Maine: Four Contemporary Views,
Wolf Moon Press, 2003

Kany, Dan,Art Review: Portland’s arts scene has special ‘Space’, http://www.pressherald.com/life/audience/portlands-arts-scene-has-special-space_2013-03-10.html?pagenum=fullPortland Sunday Telegram, March 10, 2013

Kany, Dan, Art Agitators, Portland Monthly, September, 2017, p. 59-61

Keyes, Bob, Maine artists interpret the nation’s unrest in ‘America Now’ oct 29, 2017,    Portland Press Herald

Konau, Britta,Natasha Mayers’s wide-ranging vision Postcards from the conscience, February 13, 2013

Konau, Britta, Free Press, http://www.freepressonline.com/main.asp?SectionID=50&SubSectionID=72&ArticleID=25388&TM=66309.124/10/2013 6:17:00 PMart current: Art and Politics
Isaacson, Phillip, Maine Sunday Telegram, Portland:
New Kid in Brunswick, Protest in Portland, 1985
Imminent Bloodshed, Sweat and Tears at Rockport, 1987
To be a Fly on a Gallery Wall to Hear a Talk among Prints, 1996
Drawn to the Dark Side of the Human Spirit, Sept.29,200
Klein, Deborah, Community, Artists and Communities: America Creates
for the Millenium
, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and NEA, 2004,
P.62-3, 118.
Lippard, Lucy, “All at a Glance”, in Mapping a City, by Nina
Montmann, Yilmaz Dziewior, Galierie fur Landschaftskunst
the Kunstverein in Hamburg, 2005-6
Lippard, Lucy, The Real Ronnie Horror Show Comes to the Fair,
In These Times, Sept. 4, 1985
Lippard, Lucy, Lure of the Local – Senses of place in a multi-centered
Society, New York: The New Press, 1997 p. 192, 289-91
Lippard, Lucy, High Notes, Inner Vision: Contemporary Visionary Art:
Outsider Artists with Disabilities
, catalog Off-Site Santa Fe
Arts Commission, 1997
Martin, Lucy, Arts Enrichment at Whitefield School, Community Fills
Void Left by Budget Cuts,” Maine Progressive, 1981
Mayers, Natasha, Demo-Tactics, How to ’92, Alliance for Cultural
Democracy
1991 published as insert in Z Magazine and by itself
(edited by Lucy Lippard)
Mayers, Natasha, Inside/Outside: Private Art catalog introduction; with
essays by Lucy Lippard, Margot Clark, Bunny McBride, Stephen
Petroff and others, 1987
Mayers, Natasha, Home/Homeless, catalog introduction, 1990
Morison Leslie, Art in the Street, Casco Bay Weekly, Jan.11, 1990

O’Brien, Heather, Case study 1: Natasha Mayers, Activist Art: Moving the Artist, Shaping the work, thesis at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, 2010
Petroff, Stephen, Art for the Homeless Finds No Home in Portland,
Maine Progressive, Feb. 1990
Portland Museum of Art, Mapping Maine: Four Contemporary Views,
Summer, 2003

Reef, Pat Davidson A review: ‘Pioneer’ exhibit showcases ‘monumental’ works of art by Maine women, Lewiston Sun Journal,http://www.sunjournal.com/news/encore/2013/03/21/review-pioneer-exhibit-showcases-monumental-works/1336396

Ryan, Susan, Five Political Artists in Maine, Artists in Maine, vol.II,no.
Vision Magazine cover lithograph vol. 1

Schroeder, Nicholas,  UNE’s Women Pioneers deepen inquiry Joining disunity,  Portland Phoenix,April 4, 2013

Articles about the Pole-Painting Project in Whitefield:

Beem, Edgar Alan, Whitefield, Downeast magazine, summer 1999
Beem, Edgar Alan, Yankee Magazine guidebook, article about the
Poles, 1999 publication date
Ensign, Betty, “Whitefield History Project creates Pride in Community,”
Lincoln County News, July 4, 1996
George Robert, “Pillars of History-Maine youngsters paint the town with
their past
,” Boston Globe, New England section feature in color,
Sunday, Dec. 31,1995
Gold, Donna, “Stop, Look, Listen,Maine Times, Jan. 13, 1995
Gold, Donna, “Utilitarian Art,” Arts of Hope, Hope Magazine
(Humanity Making a Difference), Aug. 1996, p. 93
High Performance, A Publication of Art in the Public Interest;
“Portfolio” – three photos and caption about poles,
Summer 1996, #72, p. 26
Kennedy Kate, “Natasha Mayers: Of Sentiment Action and Utility Poles”
Appeared in both Arts Every Day – Journal of the Maine Alliance
of Arts Education, Vol. 8 no. 2 Winter 1996
Learning Magazine – Successful Teaching Today – “From the Field”
p. 65 Vol. 2 31 Aug. 1997
Lippard, Lucy, Lure of the Local, New York: New Press 1997 color
Plate 8, p. 192, 289-291
Maine Humanities Council “What People Did Before TV,” Fundraising
Brochure featuring as article about the pole project, Dec. 1996
Martin, Lucy, “Video Immortalizes Whitefield’s Painted Poles,”
Lincoln County News, Dec. 17, 1998
Muir, Bryce, “Community Art,” UMVA Journal, Dec. 1994-Jan. 1995
Rayfield, Susan, “Pole Painter’s Work Brightens Whole Town,”
Portland Press Herald, Jan. 17, 1997, p. 1B (color)
Weekly Reader, “History on a Stick,” edition 4 vol. 78 issue 3
Sept. 20, 1996 (color feature)
WCSH TV News, Feb. 20, 1997, feature with Bill Green
“Tall Tales,” 22 minute video made by Cyclops Productions
Vanessa Barth and Doreen Convoy, with a grant from the
Maine Humanities Council about the painted poles:
1998 includes interviews with Lucy Lippard and Alan Taylor,
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian

Quotes from Lucy Lippard:

“Natasha Mayers is the best public artist in Maine!”
“Natasha Mayers is the most committed activist artist in Maine.”

“The Gorham mural is a wonderful residency outcome and the multi-site buoy project essentially a great gift from, in my opinion, Maine’s most longstanding and significant activist artist to USM and the greater community of the world.” Carolyn Eyler, Director of USM Art Gallery

Collections:

Corporate:
Payne Webber Co.
Sonesta Hotel
Woolworth’s
McDonald’s in Freeport
Sun Savings Bank
Maine Wood Products, Inc
Wiscasset Family Medicine
Augusta Family Dental Associates
American Express, Joel Davis Associates

Institutional:
Portland Museum of Art
University of Maine at Presque Isle
United States Department of State Art Bank

Selected Individuals:

Bruce Brown, Lucy Lippard,
David Hitchcock, Donna Gold,
Rob Elowitch, Edgar Allen Beem,
David Hitchcock, Phil Isaacson,
June LaCombe, Marcia Stuart,
Nancy Davidson, John Holverson,
Katherine Bradford, Dr. Sandy and Mary Allen,
Alison Hildreth, Leonard and Barbara Keilson,
Alice Spencer, Dr. Gary Astrachan

Per Cent For Art Commissions:
Peru Elementary School, Peru, Maine, MSAD 21 (2008)

Solon Elementary School

Miller School in Waldoboro





to see a slideshow of 300+images that appeared on commondreams.org

17 05 2010

http://www.flickr.com/photos/natashamayers/sets/72157624050428610/

these are the 323 images that appeared, in order, on commondreams.org website from may 1, 2007 to may 1, 2008





MY AHA!

12 07 2009

Request from Robert Shetterly:

Everywhere I go, kids, and adults, want to know how you got started. What was the defining moment that triggered your dedication to fighting for justice or peace, or the environment? What was your epiphany?  Your AHA! moment? Were you a child or adult when this awareness came about? What kind of change was necessary in your life? What courage?

We want to put your story up on the Americans Who Tell the Truth website right next to your portrait. We think it will add a personal quality that will help young and older people identify with your work, and help them make the decision to act themselves. It will demystify the movement from bystander to activist…. that little leap from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Natasha Mayers’ Awakening

In 1982, I read an important book that stirred my conscience, Bitter Fruit, by Stephen Kinzer, about the overthrow of the democratically-elected leader of Guatemala by our CIA.*
I went to a teach-in about Central America and heard a remarkable German theologian (Erhard Kepler?), urge us to action: “Every drop counts, even if you think it is like pissing in the ocean. No matter how insignificant your action might seem, you must do it to get beyond the powerlessness, the cynicism, the paralysis.”
I was nearing 40, I had a young child, and had this new sense of responsibility for the state of the world. If I wasn’t going to do anything, who would?

A march was organized in Portland to mark the anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s assassination in El Salvador.  Peter Gourfain designed a banner that was so beautiful that I cried. I made a boring poster. I didn’t know how to make a visual statement without words and I wanted to.
I wanted to make art that could move people to action, that could stir their souls.
I thought the only way I could learn how to do it was to go to Central America and see it firsthand.

There was an artists’ brigade, “Arts for a New Nicaragua”, which formed out of Boston, invited by the Ministry of Culture to come down and paint murals with Nicaraguan artists.  Some of us painted a mural on the outside wall of a soap factory in Granada.  Workers made suggestions about content and told stories. It became a talking wall. Even the food vendors would park in front of it because it drew so much attention.  I also helped a group of young people paint their own compelling vision of the new Nicaragua.

That gave me a new awareness of what an artist can do. I saw a government that validated and recognized its artists. I saw a community of artists at work It changed a lot of my attitudes about the power and effectiveness of art, what my art should be about, and what my role as an artist in the community of artists and non-artists could be.





Essay by Rob Shetterly for my Signs of the Times exhibit announcement

22 04 2009

Artists, if they have any obligation to their culture, are obligated in times like these to tell the truth that strips away denial, to tell us what we need to know to lead honest lives, make moral choices, and advance the cause of hope in our communities. When politicians, corporations and the major media are complicit in hiding the truth, the burden on artists is immense. Natasha Mayers has always assumed that burden. And, if there was ever a show that was more than the sum of its parts, her Signs of the Times is it.

Read the rest of this entry »