Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Arts Growing in Passamaquoddy Region

Chris weaving at our Earth Loom

I was speaking with Jude Valentine the other day about a project that she has been working on. Jude is an artist who is also the editor of a weekly online arts publication called “Culture Pass”, a project of the Tides Institute and Museum of Art. I mentioned to Jude how it was such a struggle for me, as an artist, to move to Lubec, a remote area, and not be fully immersed in the arts. Lubec, at the time, felt like a sleepy little town with very few cultural opportunities. I suppose, to someone living in New York, L.A., or even Portland, Maine, that would still feel the case today. And relatively speaking, it is.

However, the past maybe three or four years, I have felt as though there is a real renaissance taking place in our area. Admittedly, it has taken me time to get to know the people, the culture, and the ins and outs of how people entertain themselves. But it really does feel like there is a shift occurring; A shift that is bringing the artists and local talents into the spotlight.

I don’t think the artists just showed up overnight. I attribute my new awareness to Jude’s work with “Culture Pass.” A few years ago, a survey was distributed in the towns around Passamaquoddy Bay, including both sides of the U.S. and Canadian Border. Artists began to register themselves and a list grew. I bet it was a shock for Jude at first to see just how many artists were eager to let themselves be known. Soon a database was created and later a weekly listserve that subscribers receive every Sunday. Thanks to this listserve, we now see the richness of this area, the traditional folks arts of the natives who have lived here thousands of years and the merging of the newer blood and a more modern approach to art. There are music and art festivals, theatrical performances, contradances, art workshops, lectures, concerts, and gallery openings. And it isn’t a rare thing. These types of events are occurring every week, all year long, throughout our area.

I urge folks who live in this area or who are thinking of visiting or moving here, to subscribe to the Culture Pass listserve. It’s easy. Follow the link and click on “subscribe.” You’ll be amazed at the offerings. If you don’t want to subscribe, but are curious, you can go to the site and just browse, either artists, events, or organizations.

Culture Pass

I thought I might just toss out a sample list of the things I know are coming up in August or early September:

A Listing of Upcoming Arts Events on Culture Pass
A comprehensive list of upcoming events in the arts.

Lubec Arts Alive
A Downeast Community Art Event, August 17-22
This is my pet-project this summer. A bunch of super neat artists form all over Maine will come to Lubec for a week as Artists-in-residence, and work with local community to create murals, sculptures, installations, and a portrait project. Be sure to check out my other blog specifically for that event.

Summer Keys Concerts and Summer Brushes Art Workshops
Classical Concerts every Wednesday night in the summer at the Congregational Church in Lubec, renown adult music camp, and art workshops

Jazz Week Lubec
Greg Abate performances in early August to benefit the Lubec Memorial Library. This is wild, fun, upbeat, toe-tapping music!

Tides Institute Museum
Local art and history museum/collection located in Eastport, Maine

Parrish Map Project
Sue Clifford of Common ground (England) brings the community map program to our area. Lubec: Sunday, Aug. 9, 2:00 pm at Lubec Memorial Library

Two Countries One Bay Artist Studio Tour
A weekend open-studio tour (in September) of Passamaquoddy Bay area artists, including those living in New Brunswick, Canada (Deer Island, Campobello Island, St. Stephen, St. Andrews), and Maine (Calais, Eastport, Pembroke, Edmunds, Robbinston, Whiting, Trescott, Eastport, and Lubec). Yep, I (Cobscook Pottery) am part of the tour!
This awesome art studio tour is the result of the cooperative partnership of The Tides Institute and Museum of Art, Culture Pass, Bertha Day Fine Art Gallery and Michael Chesley Johnson.

Fundy Art
A guide to artists in the Bay of Fundy area.

Cobscook Community Learning Center
An organization that offers workshops in the arts and music (including traditional folk arts/music) and environmental education experiences.

Eastport Arts Center
Celebrates the local arts with theater, music, and arts workshops. I have loved watching this organization grow over the last few years.

These are just a few of what I consider key events that I am either attending or participating in. Check out Culture Pass to see a more comprehensive listing. Beyond this, there are numerous galleries, art openings, workshops, outdoor recreational opportunities, the best and most beautiful hiking trails, and incredible hospitality at the local inns. The wildlife is stunning: eagles, whales, moose and bear. All these arts in a true downeast locale, where the forests are unfettered, no traffic lights (at least for 50 miles from Lubec!), and each cultural finding is a treasure to be savored. Rugged coastline, foggy bays, lighthouses, and the true Maine accent that Stephen King movies have yet to get right!







2 comments:

Onedia Hayes Sylvest said...

Thanks so much for sharing this...As someone who still thinks that sometime in the near future I will at least be able to spend August in Lubec this is great. I don't feel much of an artist right now...so I am so glad to read about your work with the Lubec arts community.

Keep writing ....I haven't abandoned reading your blog...don't mean that to seem so self absorbed. I just like the fact that I can come to your place and have a cozy look into your world. O.

SHANNA WHEELOCK said...

thanks for the comment! i am not doing my own artwork at moment either - i am full time busy with the lubec arts alive project and the building of the new studio.

i hope you get to maine soon! we want you here!