Gail Spaien is known for making paintings that depict an idealized view of the natural world and a denial of unpleasant things. Her current work examines the symbolism and contradiction embedded in the floral still-life tradition touching on themes of well-being and mortality, pleasure and loss. Spaien's use of deliberately artificial imagery transforms extreme emotion to a restrained strength as a commentary on the complexities of our time and a continuation of her interest in sentimentality as it relates to the intersection of nature and culture.
Gail Spaien has been the recipient of numerous fellowships including the Djerassi Foundation Resident Artists Program in Woodside, CA, Millay Colony for the Arts, Austerlitz, NY and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She has received grant funding from the Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Foundation, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation Artist Advancement Grant, and the Maine Arts Commission. Spaien’s group exhibitions include the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA; The Ogunquit Museum of American Art, in Ogunquit, ME; Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockport, ME; San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, California; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento,CA; Jack Meier Gallery, Houston,TX; the Portland Museum of Art, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Portland, Maine. Her one and two person exhibitions include Ogunquit Museum of American Art, Ogunquit, Maine; Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine; Vanier Gallery, Tuscon, AZ; Aucocisco Gallery, Portland, George Marshall Store Gallery of the Old York Historical Society, York, ME, and Ellen Miller Gallery in Boston, MA. Reviews and mentions in in notable publications include New American Painting; Sharon Butler’s on-line publication Two Coats of Paint, Art New England, the Portland Press Herald, the Boston Globe, and Down East Magazine. Spaien’s work is in the collections of Fidelity Investments, University of New England, the University of Southern Maine, Intuit Corporation and Portland Museum of Art. A Professor of painting and core faculty in the MFA program at the Maine College of Art, Spaien received her BFA from the University of Southern Maine and her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. She is affiliated with the Ellen Miller Gallery (formerly Miller Yezerski) in Boston and the George Marshall Store Gallery in Maine and resides with her husband and daughter in South Portland, Maine.