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Lot 44: Paul Plante
28 October 2016
Portland, ME, USALive Auction
Description: Paul Plante Am. 1943-2016 Lent 1987 Signed "Paul A. Plante" b.r; titled and dated as above l.l. 15 oil pastels (6 x 6 in. each), single frame 6 x 6 in. 15.2 x 15.2 cm
Condition Report: Good condition, good appearance, no apparent restoration
Notes: 44??89, 197???200, and 222???250 The collection of Father Paul Plante to benefit the Portland Diocese Father Paul Plante was unique. His collection of works of art was extensive. His interest was in both the exquisite quality of the work he collected and in supporting those artists whose work inspired him. Some are universally known, others to one degree or another, locally. It has been written and said that Plante led two careers; but, they are intellectually, joyously inseparable. Plante himself was a highly regarded artist and his life and work related in significant ways to the artists and work he collected. He found animals, especially birds, a consistently fascinating and exquisite subject - not surprisingly also true of one of the most widely known artists whose work he collected: Hunt Slonem, who is currently represented by Marlborough Gallery in New York. That Slonem's whimsical birds and other animals?are touched?with elements of Abstract Expressionism is clearly demonstrated in this sale as it is in work by Plante found in storage dating from the early 1960?s.?Slonem?s?loft with?seventy-five odd pet birds is widely known and?celebrated,?at once seriously and humorously.?He attended?the?Skowhegan?School?of?Painting and Sculpture here in Maine. Plante's extensive collection of pottery by Brother Thomas Bezanson, famously known as Brother Thomas, represented by twelve lots in this sale, were both purchases and gifts from one artist of faith to another. The Brother Thomas Fund was established under the auspices of the Boston Foundation upon the artist's death. Since 2007, proceeds from the sale of his work have gone into this Fund and in October 2009, the first eight Brother Thomas Fellowships were awarded to struggling, mid-career Boston artists in the amount of $?15,000 each. When Father Paul Plante asked Barridoff Galleries to sell his collection of 20th and 21st Century American artists a few weeks before his death after an extended battle with cancer in June of this year, we were deeply moved and singularly ?honored. With his blessing and that of the Roman Catholic Church of ?Portland, we hope we have honored his trust. Two from the Maine Arts Journal, May 18, 2016 Reprinted by permission by Paul Plante Two from the Maine Arts Journal, May 18, 2016 Reprinted by permission by Paul Plante I?d like to think that when we are touched, affected by a work of art, it is because the mystery, the spirit of the artist, has come through in his or her art. Don't we always wonder what it is in a work of art that is so wonderful, so moving? My response is that the art has put us in touch with an aspect of the mystery of a specific human being. And since we are all unique -- and in my spirituality, all created in the image of God -- since God is infinite, there are infinite aspects of the mystery of God in each one of us. The artist is able to allow this mystery to be shared in a work of art. It's no wonder that we can't really tell what it is that makes the difference between true art and some kind of matter-of-fact expression of skill. This brings me to reflect on the fact that many people have referred to my art as spiritual. People know that I am a priest and attempt to be the best possible person and Catholic. But my work has very rarely been an expression of my religion, such as icons might be. People sense the spirituality in plums and birds and tropical fish. I imagine many artists have depicted such subjects without the spiritual dimension. I have to humbly admit that I have never purposely tried to spiritualize my work. It is what it is. However, if someone sees a spiritual dimension to my work, I rejoice, because I believe firmly that one's encounter with a work of art is also an encounter with the soul of the artist. Since integrity is the goal of my spiritual life, I rejoice that the ?spirit? that enlightens me has a place in my artwork. Just as I want my personal and private life to match my public behavior, I also want to be the same spiritual person as a priest as well as an artist. A time of prayer precedes most of my activities. When I write a homily, I have previously read the Scripture, prayed and reflected and then, hopefully guided by the Holy Spirit, written a homily that reflects who I am, as well as the influence I want to have on those who will hear it. I am careful, however, not to claim that all that I do is the doing of the Spirit. The Spirit is way beyond my art production. My human limitations actually keep the Spirit from being totally transparent. I realize, as my life comes to an end, that I could have been more open to the Spirit and thus have been a better person, a better priest, and a better artist. May the Spirit forgive me and accept my humble apology. In a very real and honest sense, all I can do is thank those who have seen my work and affirmed me by detecting my spiritual side. I hope this is who I've been for many people. aul Plante and the Soul of Art in Maine by Edgar Allen Beem Maine Arts Journal, Muses, Summer 2016? ?Father Paul Plante, a Sanford native, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1971. In 1987, he earned his BFA in painting at Portland School of Art and he was a fixture on the Maine art scene from then until he passed away on July 1 of this year. With his passing, now is the time to reflect upon Father Paul's contribution to Maine art. Fifteen and twenty years ago, I saw Father Paul's elegant little pastel close-ups of birds' eyes, fish eyes, plums and apples in exhibitions at the Farnsworth Art Museum and Colby College Museum of Art. I visited him when he was the pastor of Saint John the Baptist Church in Winslow in 2001, at which time he was methodically and meditatively producing close to 1,000 small oil pastels paintings a year.? That very day, I purchased a little painting of a redwinged blackbird eye, the depths of which still amaze me. The tiny white spot that is the focal point provides an entrance into the mysterious soul of this otherwise most common of avian beings. A great many people on the Maine art scene own one of Father Paul's pastels. They are beautiful, plentiful and affordable. Cynthia Hyde and Jim Kinnealey, who show Plante at their Caldbeck Gallery in Rockland, own a Plante painting of a Florida anhinga eye.? "A dedicated artist and an avid collector," the couple wrote shortly before Father Paul's death, "our dear friend, Father Paul Plante, has a keen and loving eye that finds the holiness of spirit in nature."? Former Farnsworth director Chris Crosman has a Plante bluebird hanging in the entry of his Thomaston home. Chris writes that his Plante bluebird "eyes us daily in our comings and goings?and makes me smile.?I believe that was the core message of his art - to make people smile - and as many of us as possible by selling these at the ridiculously low price of $?100 each.?He was the spiritual heir to?medieval manuscript illuminators,?albeit telling?a simple?story about seeing and looking more closely at life - and all?lives more alike than different. In his essay, Father Paul states that "my work has very rarely been an expression of my religion," but I would argue it has always been an expression of his spirituality. Religion is an organized body of beliefs, but spirituality is that primal sense that we are all connected to something much larger than our selves. There is a mindfulness about the way Paul Plante has paid such careful and sustained attention to color, form and pattern, taking in nature through the eye and translating it into culture with the hand. His art is a form of transubstantiation. It is the essence of creation. It is the work of the soul.
Provenance: Provenance: The Estate Collection of Father Paul Plante to be sold for the benefit of the Portland, Maine Diocese. Extensive information about the collector and the collection is available in the virtual catalogue on the home page www.barridoff.com.
Artist or Maker: Paul Plante
Literature: 15 oil pastels (6 x 6 in. each), single frame