The Best Art Galleries In Downtown Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine’s downtown district is home to a vibrant, thriving contemporary art scene dedicated to attracting big names to the city as well as the promoting homegrown talent. From independent art spaces and artist-run cooperatives to art museums, check out our guide to the ten best galleries in downtown Portland.
Portland’s longest standing gallery, Greenhut Galleries was established in 1977 by founder and owner Peggy Greenhut Golden, a New York native and dedicated local arts maven who curates the biannual Portland Show. Over four decades, Greenhut Galleries has gained a reputation as one of the state’s best contemporary art galleries and, in addition to hosting monthly exhibitions, also represents more than 30 painters and sculptors, including the estate of the late, Boston-born painter Maurice Freedman and native Maine sculptor Mark Herrington.
Originally founded in 1882 as the Portland Society of Art, the Portland Museum of Art is Maine’s oldest art institution and is home to more than 18,000 artworks dating from the 18th century to the present day with specific collections dedicated to American and European art. Fans of contemporary art will particularly enjoy the museum’s postwar and contemporary collection featuring works by renowned American figurative painter Alex Katz. Housed in an award-winning modern building constructed in 1983 by acclaimed architect Henry N. Cobb, the museum also presents a series of cutting-edge contemporary exhibitions by Maine-based artists like sculptor and installation artist Aaron T Stephan, known for his take-downs of contemporary art semiotics.
Portland Art Gallery Interior | Photo by Sean Thomas/Courtesy Portland Art Gallery
Now predominantly an art consultation service for collectors and career advice for artists Susan Maasch Fine Art specialises in painting, photography, works on paper, ceramics and sculpture. A number of local and national artists—both emerging, mid-career and well-known—are represented by the gallery including Maine-based DM Whitman and her ethereal, dreamlike pinhole photography and Massachusetts native Lynda Schlosberg, who creates deconstructed abstract paintings.
The newest addition to Portland’s thriving downtown arts district, Portland Art Gallery opened in 2014 and has settled into its own niche with its specific focus on artists based solely in Maine. In its modern space on historic Middle Street, Portland Art Gallery features a spacious, airy exhibition room with huge windows filling the space with natural light—an ideal venue in which to view the work of talented artists such as Norwegian expat Ingunn Milla Joergensen and her paintings of Maine’s ruggedly beautiful landscapes and the abstract wood sculptures of Bangor-based artist Randy Colbath.
Shea Brook, Man in Alley, acrylic on canvas, 5" x 7" | Courtesy Shea Brook & As 1 Gallery
Located in downtown Portland’s historic Old Port, Fore River Gallery originally started out as a studio gallery established by married artists Liz and Mike M. Marks in 2009 as a means of showcasing their works, before progressing to exhibiting other locally based emerging artists. In 2012 it evolved into an artist cooperative when the Marks partnered with fellow artists Elizabeth Prior and T.J. McDermott. Today, the gallery exclusively exhibits the works of its four artist owners including the delicately carved ceramic art of Liz Marks and T.J. McDermott ’s concrete and wooden sculptures and hand carved birds.
Technically just outside downtown Portland in the city’s hip, diverse East Bayside neighborhood, Mayo Street Arts is still worth a mention for its unique location—a beautifully repurposed former St Angsar’s Church—and its community-driven focus. Established in 2009 by founder Blainor McGough with the aim of enriching the local community through promoting participation in vibrant and inspiring art, Mayo Street Arts hosts not only exhibitions of visual art but also a number of theatrical performances and literary events too. Currently, Mayo Street Arts is exhibiting a series of new works of art by visionary Portland-based painter Pat Corrigan.
Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art
Run by the Maine College of Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), is based at the college’s landmark Porteous Building—a beautifully renovated former department store built in 1904 in an attractive Beaux-Arts style. Dedicated to the investigation of new ideas and trends within contemporary art, the ICA concentrates on exhibiting cutting-edge, thought-provoking works of art created by local, national and international artists, which in the past has included New York-based multimedia artist Kate Gilmore, whose art explores themes of female identity, displacement and struggle, and New Jersey-born artist Brian Graf, known for his experimental approach to photography.
Looks like it's closedHours or services may be impacted due to Covid-19