The Center for Maine Contemporary Art, 162 Russell Ave., will have a fresh look inside and out when it re-opens for the season with four exhibitions Saturday, May 28. In addition to installing new landscaping, signage and gallery seating by Furniturea, CMCA has reconfigured inside space to include an Internet coffee bar and an ArtLab, which features brand-new studio space that will debut this summer with eight different workshops for young children. There will be a public reception in celebration of the opening from 4 to 6 p.m.

The 2011 season is the first curated by new director Suzette McAvoy of Belfast, who began her position at CMCA on Sept. 1, 2010, having previously served for many years as chief curator at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. The four exhibitions, which will run through July 10, include work by Robert Hamilton, Elizabeth Cashin McMillen, Steve Mumford, Duane Paluska and Shannon Rankin.

“Counterpoint” pairs Cashin McMillen’s lush, enigmatic paintings with Paluska’s spare, wood sculptures, prompting a visual dialogue that is at once conceptually intriguing and aesthetically engaging.

“Embedded” is the first of two exhibitions at CMCA that are part of the statewide 2011 Maine Drawing Project. Since 2003, artist Mumford has produced drawings and watercolors on-site in Iraq and Afghanistan that document daily life in the war-torn region. Inspired, in part, by the Civil War art of Winslow Homer, Mumford strives to maintain objectivity about the politics of war while providing an artist’s humanistic view of the individuals involved.

Rankin, recipient of the 2010 CMCA Biennial Juror’s Award, creates installations, collages and drawings using maps in her exhibition “Fathom.” She intricately cuts, scores, wrinkles, layers, folds, paints and pins maps to produce revised versions that often become more like the terrains they represent. Maps, said Rankin, “are the everyday metaphors that speak to the fragile and transitory state of lives and surroundings.”

“Robert Hamilton: The Last Paintings” showcases work from the last years of Hamilton’s long painting career, before his death in Port Clyde in 2004. These small-scale colorful paintings, many of which have never before been exhibited publicly, are a testament to his ever-inventive imagination and zest for life.

On Sunday, June 5 at 3 p.m., McAvoy will give a gallery talk with the “Counterpoint” artists. On Saturday, June 11 at 2 p.m., CMCA will screen “Robert Hamilton: Maine Master,” followed by a reception for Maine RISD alumni.

An outdoor sculpture by J.T. Gibson and a collaborative installation by glass artist David Jacobson and poet Leonore Hildebrandt also will be on view throughout the 2011 season. Gallery hours will be Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.

The Center for Maine Contemporary Art is a nonprofit organization advancing contemporary art in Maine through exhibitions and educational programs. Admission to the galleries and opening reception is a suggested donation of $5, free for CMCA members. For more information about the exhibitions, accompanying events and the ArtLab workshops for children, visit cmcanow.org or send email to info@cmcanow.org.

This season’s media sponsors are Maine Home + Design and Maine magazines; and exhibition sponsors are Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding in Thomaston, Mathias Fine Art in Trevett and an anonymous donor.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to dernest@villagesoup.com.