Sunday, August 23, 2009

What a week!

Richard Brown Lethem paints Eugene, local lobsterman and chocolatier. Finished paintings in the background include me! I love Lethem's wild colors and quick expressionistic brush strokes. It was a real treat to observe him at work.

I guess I can say that Lubec Arts Alive 2009 is officially over. The last artist working, Natasha Mayers, swung by the house to pick up her books on her way out of town Saturday night at 6:30. It was a week to never forget - a bustling of activity from morning 'til late night. Lubec has never seen the likes of this - accomplished artists from Maine and beyond, thirteen of them, landing here for one week to "art-up" the town. The project definitely grew from its original conception of just bringing wild color and creativity - to something that documented a town's history and people while celebrating community. What is even more amazing is that these artists were originally expected to be paid, however, when the grant didn't come through, they all enthusiastically said "I'll be there anyway!" So, this definitely defined "Community" in the sense that everyone pitched in to help out. Individuals and local businesses provided housing, food, supply money and talent. Our sponsor list topped over fifty, and that doesn't even include the volunteers who provided muscle and equipment. Astounding!

We started the week with a wine and cheese at Crow Town Gallery. The committee had their first opportunity to meet the resident artists. Frank Van Riper and Judy Goodman were there from the beginning to photo document the event (they have since taken over 450 photos!), and Ruta of Tours of Lubec and Cobscook volunteered a local history tour of the town. Monday morning we started right in with the mural, portraits, and doorways. It was such an incredible experience to see all our planing come into action: folks from the community filtering in, feeling honored, creativity flaring, people laughing, curious, eager to do their part.

Throughout the week, we saw lots of faces, and honored many from the community. We feasted (many times!) The mural, which should be mounted soon, is amazing! I am so impressed with Natasha's ability to mobilize a crowd and get such an enormous and gorgeous artwork completed in one week. Hamilton Beach was filled with natural found object sculptures in the style of Goldsworthy, and Chris even gave a poetry reading here in our new studio space, which was followed by a fire circle complete with marshmallow toasting, banjo and accordion playing, and a sharing of poems. The portrait sessions were at times touching (especially the public viewing at the library of finished portraits) and the doorway installations downtown drew lots of attention from passers-by. The slide show (and moving shadow puppet show) showed the audience just how incredible, accomplished, dedicated, and talented this group of thirteen artists were, and how fortunate we were to have had this experience.

I was sad to see each artist leave, and the energy that they brought to our town and project. I hope we all have a chance to cross paths again.

I must also say - that I was overwhelmingly impressed with (and thankful for!) the committee here in Lubec! This group of five women worked their butts off! The two weeks prior to the event, and the week of, (and the months before!) left little time for anything other than organizational activities. This was the first time I was "at the helm" overseeing a major project, and as events unfolded, I could see even more clearly how talented this dedicated group of women was, and still is! I would without hesitation work with this same group again. It couldn't have been a more perfect combination with each person's talents complementing another's.

I need a little time to catch my breath and do some follow-up reporting and documenting for the event. Before long, we will update the Lubec Arts Alive blog with new pics, and perhaps build a website or flicker site to post all the incredible photos that were taken by various folks (including Judy Goodman and Frank Van Riper!). Wing Lum, filmaker, is also editing out the footage that he shot, and who knows where that will lead!

Thanks to all the incredible artists who came to our tiny little town to "art-it-up" (Natasha Mayers, Robert Shetterly, Richard Brown Lethem, Kenny Cole, Karen Adrienne, Rose Marasco, Barb Sullivan, Diane Dahlke, Alan Crichton, Harlan Crichton, Mary Bernstein, Siena Mayers, Jill Lavetsky!). Thanks to my fabulous hard-working, amazing, astounding, (and unbelievably gorgeous, if I may say) Lubec committee (Claudia Mahlman, Karen Burke, Jean Bookman Fincke, Jean Deveber, and Ann Rosebrooks). Thanks to our steadfast volunteers who were with us near every day (Roberta Cantlon, Judy Heyer, and that amazing family from New York!) and all the others who helped prime and cut wood, paint, clear out the grange, provided space for our events (Bonnie Beard and Ukey Santos, Suzanne Plaut, Denise Plouffe, Melissa Lee) and to all the businesses and people that provided food and sponsorship! What an amazing community!

I need to shift gears for a while. I begin teaching in less than a week and that will consume most of my time. All the while, we are still trying to get the studio done - which is coming along beautifully! I have missed my clay and weaving and hope to be back to that full swing within a month or two (my barn studio looks so bare to me!). And, "Two Countries One Bay Art Studio Tour" is coming up in there is lots to be done!

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