WATERVILLE — Julia Gibbs sat on a bench in the cool, dim interior of the Common Street Arts gallery, watching colorful shapes float across a small screen — blue, red, orange and green cubes and circles moving in endless rhythm.

“It’s mesmerizing,” she said. “Amazing colors.”

Gibbs, of London, was visiting the “MIFFONEDGE” exhibit Sunday as part of the 34th annual <URL destination=”http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/06/23/actress-model-lauren-hutton-to-receive-maine-international-film-festival-award/”>Maine International Film Festival.

</URL>The exhibit is a collection of five audiovisual works that explore the intersections of art and cinema and, film enthusiasts say, challenge the way people look at, listen to and think about film.

Gibbs was viewing a 35 mm work by Harry Smith called “Early Abstractions 1-5, 7 and 10,” produced from 1946 to 1957. Smith was a filmmaker, painter, ethnomusicologist — a person who studies music in a cultural context — collector and alchemist whose techniques of using direct, camera-less animation, cut-out animation and collage are evident in his work. He drew, bleached, masked and stamped directly on the surface of his earliest films.

Gibbs, who attended the exhibit with her partner, Ave Vinick, and her son, Matt Sheridan, also of London, said she was intrigued.

“It’s wonderful because you look for patterns and it surprises you, so it’s amusing as well,” she said. “It’s fabulous. “He must’ve had a lot of fun making it. It would be a great little workshop, wouldn’t it, to get young people in here?”

The exhibit at the 93 Main St. gallery next to City Hall downtown opened Saturday and is free and open to the public from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily through Saturday.

The gallery is airy and spacious, with small screens perched on podiums displaying the artists’ film and video offerings.

The work of Kerry Laitala, a San Francisco-based artist, is featured, as are works by Aaron Valdez and Jodie Mack.

Like Harry Smith’s work, Laitala’s “Conjuror’s Box” uses a variety of techniques including the imprinting of objects via photogram directly onto a strip of film and then giving them color, texture and rhythm to produce colorful shapes that move and morph.

Laitala will give a live performance of her work at 9 p.m. Thursday at Common Street Arts, using a multi-projector. Her projections will be accompanied by a recorded soundtrack of original music by Wobbly, Laitala’s collaborator.

Vinick, a former Waterville resident who moved to London eight years ago, said he was particularly taken with Valdez’s 2006 work, “The Life and Times of Robert F. Kennedy Starring Gary Cooper.” The work superimposes newsreel footage of Kennedy with images from the Hollywood classic “High Noon,” also starring Grace Kelly, producing the effect of blurring the line between truth and fiction. While the other, more abstract works were interesting, he said, they did not grip him like “The Life and Times …”

“I think it was quite moving — quite arresting,” Vinick said.

Sheridan, a writer and director who has attended film festivals in Europe, said this was his first time attending a festival in the U.S. and his first time visiting the country.

“I think it’s pretty interesting,” he said of the audiovisual exhibit. “I like the concept.”

Sheridan said he had seen a few films since the festival opened Friday, including “The Sounding,” the opening night film, co-written, directed and starring Catherine Eaton, shot partly on Monhegan Island off the Maine Coast.

“It was very well-made, very pretty — a really good debut,” Sheridan said. “It seemed very educated, but not as smart as they intended. I did enjoy watching it with the audience.”

Alyssa Chesney, a Colby College student who is a summer intern with Waterville Creates!, of which Common Street Arts is a part, was overseeing the exhibit Sunday.

She said more than 50 people had visited Saturday and it was interesting to watch their reactions to the works.

“Some really stay and go through everything and sit and soak it in,” said Chesney, who is majoring in history and minoring in art at Colby.

She said many people come in between watching films or at the end of a day of watching them.

“It’s a way to get into the MIFF experience and look at film as a whole art form,” she said. “One couple talked about coming to decompress — that this was almost sort of a palette cleaner between films.”

Chesney, of Blue Hill, said she is enjoying her internship and works with children as part of Waterville Creates’ “Art in the Park” program, held 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays in Castonguay Square next to the gallery. It is free to children and adults and open to the public.

“Last week was ‘Clay Play,’ and the instructor was from Hallowell Clay Works,” she said. “It was really cute. They built a town. It was very nice to see kids just enjoy themselves with art and mention plans of ‘When I get home, I’m going to do this.'”

Thursday’s program will be “Wearable Art,” according to Chesney.

“You have a little piece of plastic and draw something on it, heat the plastic, the plastic shrinks and you have a medallion to make a necklace or pin,” she said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

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