Maine Arts Commission Supporting Maine Artists with Government Funding

With the introduction of the American Rescue Plan, the National Endowment for the Arts is claiming $52 million dollars through the relief plan to direct to art agencies and organizations nationwide. The beneficiaries include Maine through the Maine Arts Commission. The funds are great news for the Maine arts community, as the $750,000 will go directly to riving art projects and employing artists. 

The National Endowment for the Arts made initial distributions of the funds based on their guidelines, but each recipient has their own regulations and application process for further distributing the funds to their communities. For example, the Maine Arts Commission is casting a wide net to allow arts organizations and cultural and community organizations to apply with grant submissions. Eligible applications involve a project that includes hiring artists, but more specific guidelines will accompany the application when it opens within the next couple of months. 

Getting artists employed and the economy active again are the main goals of the government funding. Artists all across the country have not had it easy during the pandemic, so these funds will go to good use. Now that more businesses are opening and art fairs are returning to communities, Maine artists will hopefully start to see more work in the coming months. 

The arts in any form will be important for bringing the community back together after over a year of isolation. With the help of the forthcoming government funds to bring life back to the arts, people can find a renewed appreciation for art and show their support of local artists. If you’re a Maine artist, keep your eye on the grant application to jumpstart a project. Or, if you live in Maine and are looking to help your town, your local artists might be a good place to start. 

Forestry Museum Receives Grant

The Maine Forestry Museum, located in Rangeley, Maine, recently received a grant for $3,000. It was for the Logging Festival Days and entertainment. This grant will provide funds for festival activities that have been featured for 35 years.

During the festival, children recite poems and sing for local residents. Winners of the contest are featured in the annual Logging Festival Parade held the next day. Children learn confidence and how to express themselves using the written word. The grant will help the museum recruit cloggers, musicians, and singers to perform at the festival.

The festival promotes traditions found in the logging community. They have clogging, bluegrass musicians, poetry, and singing. The entertainment will be held at the Rangley Inn on July 16 at 7 pm. The festival contest Little Mr. or Miss Woodchip is for children 6-8 that want to recite a poem or sing a song. Winners of the contest ride in the parade the next day.

The Logging Parade proceeds down Main Street in Rangely. The parade has floats, clogging dancers, antique cars, local clubs, organizations, and awards. Prizes are given for the best loaded truck and best fitting parade theme related to logging. Other activities are arts and crafts vendors, barrel train rides for children, face painting, a lumberjack, and lumberjill competition, balloon animals, and more.

Logging Festival Days have an axe throwing contest, log rolling, wood splitting, stock saw cutting, and crosscut competitions. The Maine Forestry Museum has machinery and equipment used in the logging industry. They have chains saws, snubbing machines, sleds, and art by lumberjacks. The art features chainsaw carvings, and oil paintings of activities in the lumber camps.

The museum was established to preserve the history of logging and preservation of the forests. It educates consumers about the history of logging industry and the families that work in the industry.

Celebrating Black History Month

February’s Black History Month will be remembered as unique in the city of Waterville, Maine. Leading other small communities in an effort to foment and inspire art education, kids will receive an art kit, and a copy of Ashley Bryan’s children book: “Beautiful Blackbird.” 

Back in April, the non-profit organization, Waterville Creates, led an effort to distribute art kits to all, responding to the new  challenges brought on by the COVID-19 nationwide crisis. These art kits include materials as to allow them to get creative and make a collage. The kits will be distributed at no charge starting February 25th at 4pm. The purpose of these kits, is not only to bring families to read and create together, but to learn about Bryan’s work.

Mr. Ashley’s work as an illustrator and writer treats the subject of inclusion and diversity.

Born in Harlem, New York in 1923, his life and studies are testaments of endurance, accomplishment, and creativity. He served in a segregated battalion during World War II. Drawing helped him cope with his trials as a black man while continuing to be true to his convictions and humanity. His work is in permanent  exhibition at the Colby College Museum of Art.

As part of the Black History Month celebration, the 2016 documentary “I know a man… Ashley Bryan,” will be streaming at Maine Film Center’s website. His  life and times, take a vivid portrayal in the film.  The documentary also gives viewers a peek at his work, such as his beautiful linocut prints.

Waterville Creates initiative is not a lonesome attempt at educating the public about Mr. Ashley’s work and life, and art in general.  Some sponsors include Maine General Health, Kennebec Savings Bank, Colby Center for the Arts + Humanities, Bangor Savings Bank, New Dimensions Federal Credit Union, and Back Office Solutions. Donations from the public can be made through their website.

The Best Art Supply Stores in Maine

If you’re an aspiring artist, student, or just like to dabble in the visual arts, you might be wondering where to get your supplies.

The Art Mart

517 Congress Street

Portland, ME 04101

207-775-4244

 A favorite among art students in Portland, this wonderful shop is located just across from the street from the Maine College of Art. It features a huge selection of art materials, craft supplies, coloring books and more. No matter how strange your preferred medium is, we bet you can find some materials at The Art Mart. If not, one of their sales associates will surely be able to point you in the right direction.

Artists & Craftsman Supply

Multiple Locations

844-644-7778

Founded in 1985 as a small art supply in Portland, Artists and Craftsman Supply is a 100% employee-owned company. How neat is that? This is one of the largest art material suppliers in the United States, but they got their start in our very own state. In addition to selling arts and crafts supplies, this store features frequent demonstrations and classes. Check their Facebook page for upcoming events, times, and dates.

Salt Bay Art Supply

458 Main Street

Damariscotta, ME

207-563-8377

Salt Bay is known for its wide selection of options and their encouraging of artistic “cross-fertilization.” They say, “we encourage rubber-stampers to use gesso for backgrounds; people who have discovered adult coloring books look for high-quality colored pencils to enrich their experience, and we have plenty to choose from.” This unpretentious store supplies both high-quality art supplies and a variety of craft supplies, perfect for your upcoming project.

The Mix

53 Maine Street

Brunswick, ME

207-725-2271

This shop and art center offers a great selection of fine art supplies as well as a healthy mix of weird, funky stuff. From supplies to gifts, this is a one-stop shop for the art lover in your life. The Mix also hosts gallery shows and receptions regularly, so check them out if you’re looking for something to do on a Friday evening.

Portland Pottery

118 Washington Avenue

Portland, ME 04101

207-772-4334

Despite the name, this place isn’t just for potters – though they do specialize in pottery. Portland Pottery also carries a huge selection of artist and crafter supplies. There’s a café, a warehouse, a store, and a studio. Plus, they offer a variety of classes in the store, making this a great place to spend a rainy Saturday.

Art Schools in Maine

While many of Maine’s artists are self-trained, many were brought up in the incredible art schools that dot our great state. If you’re considering moving to Maine for art school, or if you’re already a Mainer looking to fine-tune your craft, check out any of these excellent higher education institutions.

Bates College – Bates College, located in Lewiston, ME, offers 6 Art and Design degree programs. This is a small, private, selective college in a small city.

Bowdoin College – This small, prestigious college offers 4 types of art degrees and is a private university in the outlying town of Brunswick.

Colby College – Located in Waterville, ME, Colby offers 6 Art and Design degree programs. This is a small, private university in a remote town between Augusta and Bangor.

Husson University – Husson is a private university in Bangor, ME, and offers 1 type of art degree.

Maine College of Art – Devoted entirely to the study and practice of Art, M.E.C.A. offers 10 Art and Design degree programs. This is a very small, private university in Portland.

Saint Joseph’s College of Maine – Set in beautiful Standish, Saint Joseph’s College of Main, known colloquially as “Saint Joe’s,” has 2 Art and Design degrees. This is a small, private university.

The University of Maine – While U.M. has outposts around the state, the primary campus is in northern Orono. This university has 12 Art and Design programs and is a medium-sized public university in a small suburb.

University of Southern Maine – This medium-sized public university offers 12 types of art degrees and is in Portland, Gorham, Lewiston, and online, though the primary campus is in beautiful Portland.