Maine art fans, I need your help

Our leaders need to hear how much we support art… and how art supports us.

Ocean Park Beach Erosion, by Carol L. Douglas
On Monday morning, I will drag David Blanchard out at 6:30 AM to ride with me to Augusta. Dave is the organizer of the new Knox County Art Society and one of nine regional coordinators for Plein Air Painters of Maine (PAPME). He’s coming with me to the first Arts + Culture Day to show our legislators just how much the arts mean to our state.
You don’t have to get up that early, but I’d like it if you’d join us. The event runs from 9 AM to 11:30 AM at the Maine State House Hall of Flags. It’s free and open to the public, and there’s lots of free parking in the area.
This is a new legislature and a new administration, and we want them to know how seriously we support art, and how art supports us. It’s an opportunity to strengthen relationships between arts leaders and public officials and to discuss cultural policy here in our state. Your voice and your face, are needed.
Clary Hill Blueberry Barrens, by Carol L. Douglas
But all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. There will be performances and presentations through the program, and many cultural organizations from across the state will be represented.

I’ll be there representing plein air painting. PAPME has about 600 members, about three-quarters of whom are Maine residents. The majority show and sell their work in commercial galleries, festivals and plein air events.
Members meet weekly in different locations around the state to paint. There are no dues and no activity requirements. Currently, there are nine chapters statewide. More are always welcome.
There are around 150 commercial art galleries in the state of Maine. The painters dotting the landscape and the galleries that represent them are key attractions to visitors to our state.
Sea Fog, by Carol L. Douglas
Arts and culture are a recognized regional development driver, one that Maine has exploited successfully.  Rockland is a great success story, but it’s not the only one. Too often, public officials think of art as a luxury, but it’s serious business. The arts in America contribute more than $800 billion a year to our economy. That’s around 4% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
There is a myth that artists congregate in big cities. These may have the highest density of artists, but many artists are attracted to rural living, especially in Maine. Artists like affordable housing, vibrant art scenes, educated communities, and access to markets for their art. 
Because art is handmade, it is tied to the place it’s created. That means art can’t be outsourced. An artist is unlikely to leave for another state because the Economic Development people offer him a better deal.
If you’re an artist, a fan of art, or someone interested in economic development, your presence on Monday is vital.
Snow at higher elevations, by Carol L. Douglas
The State House is located on the corners of Capitol and State Streets in Augusta. The west entrance, facing the Cross Office Building, is open to the public.
To get there from I-95 get off at exit 109 and travel east on route 202 (Western Avenue). Continue to the first rotary where you take the first possible right turn onto State Street. Proceed to the traffic light where you will see the State House in front of you on the right. Turn right at the light onto Capitol Street for access to parking behind the Cross Office Building or in the Sewall Street garage.  Parking may also be available south of the State House, behind the State Library, Archives and Museum building.

Go Barons!

Everyone on this planet is separated by only six other people, but you have to find the right six people to make the connection.

On Saturday, I drove to Tenants Harbor to drop off paintings at the Jackson Memorial Library for Plein Air Painters of Maine’s annual show. I knew, vaguely, that the library had moved, but I didn’t anticipate any trouble finding the new one. Tenants Harbor is tiny.
Luise van Keuren gave me a tour of the new library building. It is spacious, contemporary, light-filled and painted in soft, restful tones. The Town of St. George numbered 2,591 people at the last census. They’ve built a library that any swank New York suburb would be proud of.
St. George is comprised of five villages: Spruce Head, Clark Island, Tenants Harbor, Martinsville, and Port Clyde. It has a consolidated K-8 school in Tenants Harbor, attended by about 200 kids. After they finish grade eight, kids can choose to go to one of five regional high schools. This is the Maine way.
Anchor, by Carol L. Douglas
Media studies are pushing libraries out of public schools everywhere in the country. In Tenants Harbor, the public library is picking up the slack. Kids walk down a snow-filled forest path that connects their school with the Jackson Library. They get their library periods and after-school programs there.
In foreign aid, local, fast and nimble aid projects have been popular for several decades, via things like small-scale aid projects and micro-credit. In our own country, we gravitate toward one-size-fits-all solutions. Luckily, libraries are still, by and large, locally controlled and funded. If we apportioned them using the same, vicious cost/benefit approach we take for most things, Tenants Harbor wouldn’t even have a library. But for now, Maine loves her libraries and it shows.
It was time to leave, but my husband was deep in conversation with the library’s director, Deb Armer. Turns out she once lived around the corner from us in Brighton, NY, where her husband had also gone to high school. Go Barons!

I also included this palm tree, because I’m sick of the snow. Well, I was visiting Cali Veilleux, and she’s from Spruce Head, so there is a Maine theme, right?
“There are three people at this library with some connection to Brighton,” she told us. In New York terms, Brighton is a tiny pin prick on the map, with a population of 37,000. It is well-represented here in our little corner of Maine.
Alene Kennedy at the library created a lovely poster for the show, which I’ve reproduced above. I plan to be at the opening. I can’t wait to see what my painter friends have been up to. We only paint together some of the time, after all.
The opening is Friday, April 7, from 6-8 PM. Just go down Route 131 past the General Store, the Post Office, and the Town Hall, and it will be on your right. If you cross the creek, you’ve gone too far. See you there!