Cave-digging Artist

December 21, 2014

Ra Paulette making caves of art

Thanks to Cindy Reardon for sharing this information. Pretty incredible. Field trip anyone? For the past 25 years, Ra Paulette has been carving out man-made caves from the sandstone hills of New Mexico, and then sculpting these spaces into works of art he calls wilderness shrines. Lee Cowan has the story of an artist who does his best work underground.


Congrats Loren!

December 20, 2014

Named Music Educator of the year by “School Band and Orchestra” magazine

School Band and Orchestra magazine have named their 17th annual “50 Directors Who Make a Difference” which highlights some of the best music educators across all fifty states. Band and orchestra directors are nominated the readers, including current and former students, colleagues and peers, parents, and others who’ve had a wonderful experience with the music programs put on by these amazing teachers.

Congratulations to Maine’s representative this year, D. Loren Fields, director of bands at Lawrence High School in Fairfield. Loren has 70 students in his program and has been teaching for 27 years. In addition, Loren is a French horn player in The Downeast Brass. (You may have seen Loren in the Reny’s commercials.)

Arts-31Each teacher was asked these three questions.
What is your proudest moment as an educator?

Wow, here are several, not necessarily in any order: when a student has that epiphany moment and totally “gets it,” when I see former music students become music educators, when budding student composers write an original piece for our band for us to premiere, and/or when they perform alongside me in a professional ensemble.

How do you hope to make a difference in students’ lives?

I feel it is crucial that every student realize they are unique and special in their own right, that it is “okay” to be different, and that they are safe to be whomever they are. Students also need to feel accepted, protected, and respected as human beings, and to know that they can make a positive difference in the world by sharing their music. I strive to treat every student as I would want my own two children treated. We as music teachers and directors have a proven way to bridge the socio-economic gaps facing our students, music is the great equalizer!

What is the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

I strive to convey that I value every single one of them for who they are and that mistakes are allowed. Music can be a direct path to our inner core, it is how we channel the passion and translate it into music that uplift others. Not all of our students will be professional musicians, but everyone has the ability to be lifelong learners and musicians. Music can provide an unparalleled counterbalance to diverse careers, keeping things in perspective throughout one’s entire life.

To read the others representing their states please click here.


Field Trip, Bangor High School

December 19, 2014

AP art classes

The following information was provided by Kal Elmore, Bangor High School art teacher.

Every year a special field trip experience is planned for the Advanced Placement Art classes at Bangor High School. This year’s field trip was stellar!

The day began with a stop at Jim Linehan’s studio in Bangor. We arrived at Jim’s studio bright and early (8:20 AM in fact). Jim graciously allowed us to see the studio space and his work – current work as well as some work from years past. Linehan is preparing for a big exhibit this summer and is working purposefully toward this goal. The artist discussed his process, where he gets his ideas and motivation, and other topics of interest to the students.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 8.47.14 PMThe next stop was Lord Hall at the University of Maine. After viewing the installation by Dudley Zopp, Department Chair Michael Grillo led a discussion of the work. Grillo also talked about the programs offered at UM and gave students a tour of the art classrooms in Lord Hall. The group also toured the Sculpture building before having lunch at the Union.

After lunch, Susan Groce gave a tour of the studio spaces in the new Wyeth Center – drawing, painting, and printmaking studios are large and well lit.

This is when the classes were split – Kal Elmore’s AP Studio Art class went to the printmaking studio to do a mono-printing workshop. Susan Groce showed examples, described the process, explained how the space would be used, etc. The ten students quickly got to work and each created three mono-prints using the different techniques described.

The AP 2-D class learned about the history and photographic styles of Pin Hole and Holga photography with Michael Grillo, including a photo shoot around the University of Maine campus with pin hole lenses and Holga cameras. After the photo shoot these students toured the New Media facilities with Owen Smith​ and got an opportunity to see 3D printers, laser cutters, digital sewing machines, and vaccuum forming machines with Sean Taylor.

This was a great opportunity to partner with the UM Art Department. The day was informative and interesting. All students had the opportunity to learn about art and post secondary options.

As a follow-up Kal has a colleague who is a Geospatial Educator that joined them on the trip. She created this presentation that I think you will find interesting http://bit.ly/1wlbyO7.




News from Americans for the Arts

December 18, 2014

All about Arts Education

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 8.27.27 AMThe Americans for the Arts website has a plethora of information including this  overview: Americans for the Arts serves, advances, and leads the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America. Founded in 1960, Americans for the Arts is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education. Below is information that was provided in their Weekly News Roundup.


  • Sign The Petition – Support Arts Education
    Join us in asking U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to clarify that the arts are eligible for federal funds. This action will especially help new school administrators, who, in an age of overwhelming education reform, may not know what is possible. With most states now operating under waivers from outdated federal education law, now is a great time for the secretary to set the record straight. Let’s raise our voices in chorus to show that we value a well-rounded education for all students! Read more.
  • Stubhub Supports Arts Education
    StubHub, the world’s largest ticket marketplace, is partnering with The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation to raise awareness and support for keeping music education alive in schools across the United States. Watch and share this moving film featuring Trombone Shorty, Grouplove, arts teachers and students on the importance of supporting music education. Read more.
  • Building Social Harmony, One Woodwind At A Time
    The Massachusetts Cultural Council announced this week that it has launched a new music education initiative for underserved students throughout the state — the first statewide program of its kind in the United States. It blends a forward-thinking attitude toward music and arts education and a focus on multiculturalism and community empowerment that, taken together, can dramatically change students’ lives. Read more.
  • Grade Schools Use The Arts To Improve Science Education
    Through an innovative new program developed at UC Irvine, the arts and the sciences – which often occupy opposite ends of the grammar school curriculum – are being integrated to help young students better grasp the basics of Earth, life and physical sciences. Read more.
  • STEM Vs. STEAM: Do The Arts Belong?
    A tug of war is currently looming between proponents of STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) and advocates for STEAM lessons, which add art to the mix. Whichever side you come down on, here are some ideas for you to mull over. Read more.
  • Universal Music Classics Partners With U. Miami’s Frost School Of Music
    Universal Music Classics (a subsidiary of Universal Music Group) and the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music have announced plans to forge a business-academic partnership called Universal Music U @ Frost, intended to grow the next generation of artists and audiences for classical music. Read more.
  • UNM Professor Advocates STEAM Instead Of STEM
    Anne Taylor, who taught art education at the university, served as dean of the graduate school and taught in the School of Architecture and Planning, thinks that STEM’s science, technology, education and math aren’t enough. She would like to see an “A” for “Arts and Architecture” added to the acronym. Read more.
  • National Center for Creative Aging Invites Applications for Technical Assistance Program
    Grants of $5,000 will be awarded to help organizations host and provide onsite technical assistance to a MetLife Foundation Leadership Award winner. The Leadership Award Winner will mentor senior staff and will help train staff, partnering organizations, and community members in developing an arts program. The grant also is intended to support the production of a half-day best practices forum that brings together programs, organizations, and community partners dedicated to the arts, education, health, social work, and aging in the community. Read more.
  • These 12 Childhood Art Techniques Can Help Adults Relieve Stress
    Making art doesn’t necessarily sound like a stress reliever. Finding inspiration, keeping concentration, finding your artistic voice — these things demand extreme attention, time and effort. Yet there is something about expressing your creative side that can help put your mind at ease. Read more.
  • The Arts Inspire Success
    Arts education develops a passion for music, painting or acting. Students with a passion for one subject tend to do better academically across the board — an excitement about learning spills over into other areas of the curriculum. Even students who do not develop a lifelong interest in the arts benefit from the skills taught through study of the arts — self-discipline, teamwork, creative thinking and problem-solving. Read more.
  • Why Music Majors Make Some Of The Best Entrepreneurs
    Learning how to play a musical instrument and becoming a musician is an exercise in developing good listening skills, experimenting, overcoming repeated failure, self-discipline, and successful collaboration. It is simply impossible to become a successful music professional unless one also masters certain theoretical concepts, develops good presentation and improvisational skills and, ultimately, attains that elusive quality of originality that only comes once fear of failure is overtaken by the desire to acquire a new insight, a fresh perspective, and a unique voice. Read more.
  • “Art Without A Roof” Supports At-Risk Artists
    Through Educational and Sustainability Initiatives It has often been said that the greatest art is produced by troubled souls. Whether this is true or not, the reality is that many artists do struggle with issues like mental illness, poverty, homelessness and emotional trauma from war experiences. The Art Without a Roof (AWR) brand helps these at-risk artists by offering them the opportunity to obtain a scholarship that can be used on basic needs, tutoring, GED completion, and/or a college scholarship. Read more.

The Testing Camera

December 17, 2014

YouTube FableVision Learning Peter H. Reynolds

If you are not familiar with Peter Reynolds and his website at http://www.fablevisionlearning.com/ I suggest that you take a look and see what he has to offer. His book the dot that he wrote and illustrated is absolutely wonderful!

Thanks to Jay Ketner, World Language Specialist, Maine Department of Education, for sharing this link!




MAC Teaching Artist Roster

December 16, 2014

Unveiled today on the MAC site

Martin Swinger

Martin Swinger

The Maine Arts Commission is excited to announce that the new PK-12 Teaching Artist roster has been created and has gone live today!! The roster has 27 teaching artist profiles and is located at this link https://mainearts.maine.gov/Pages/Education/Teaching-Artist-Roster. It has been a number of years since the Maine Arts Commission (MAC) has had a Teaching Artist Roster. The last one was a (paper) booklet that was very useful to school districts who were seeking additional arts education instruction, specifically from artists. We hope that the new roster becomes a valuable resource.

In addition, MAC has a roster for artists interested in working with older adults. The Creative Aging program at MAC is directed by Kathleen Mundell. The roster is located at this link https://mainearts.maine.gov/Pages/Traditional/Teaching-Artist-Directory. If you have questions about this program please contact Kathleen at kathleen.mundell@maine.gov.

Some of you might be wondering what a Teaching Artist is or what do they do?! MACs definition for a Teaching Artist is below.

Teaching Artists are professional artists who are dedicated to lifelong learning and arts education, have made it an integral part of their professional practice, and who have cultivated skills as educators in concert with their skills as artists.

Malley Weber

Malley Weber

The artists included in the roster were selected after reviewing their applications which reflected their expertise and commitment to providing learning opportunities for students and/or teachers in the PK-12 education setting. We expect that the roster will be used by PK-12 schools as well as community organizations that provide learning opportunities for young people.

A more comprehensive program for Teaching Artists is being created and efforts to address the needs are underway and will grow over time. The next call for Teaching Artist applications will be announced in the Spring 2015.



December 15, 2014


Some say that life is about “making memories”. When I think about my childhood, especially during the holidays, what comes rushing into my mind, are the traditions. Little ones, like helping my Dad put the sled and reindeer (seems like they were life-size) on the lawn and the giant star that hung on the front of the house.

After I got married I mentioned that star every year, until one year my husband made one and surprised me for Christmas. When I drive up the hill at the end of the day the star shines brightly on the roof of our home and puts a smile on my face. When I was about 8 years old I wanted to give presents to my siblings and parents, but had no money to buy anything. I saved the toilet paper and paper towel rolls and wrapped them up and had everyone open them at the same time. I still remember the puzzled looks on their faces and the questions of “what are these?” Of course, “da-do-da-doos”! I can still feel my smile when they all put them to their lips and played them in unison. For years afterwards someone always wrapped one to pass on. I could go on and on about the memories that I have from childhood, in and out of school.

These might seem like little insignificant things to others but they were important to me at the time and remain forever etched in my memory. What do you do each year that is important and makes your heart sing? What do you in your classroom that creates memories for your students?

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 7.22.43 AMAs an adult one of our family traditions is to see the Magic of Christmas each year at the Merrill Auditorium. The Portland Symphony Orchestra, now directed by Robert Moody, is one of those traditions. My husband and I started going when my oldest son (now 27) was a baby. Sadly, my sons aren’t around each year to attend with us but it still continues to be a tradition for us. We attended the performance last evening and it was spectacular. In fact, it was so uniquely different than other years it is one of my favorites. The “collage”, as Robert Moody called the first half of the show, included a diverse group including, Simply Three, a string group that plays traditional tunes in an innovative style. Inanna, Sisters in Rhythm, the all women’s percussion and vocal ensemble has been around for 25 years blending the sounds of West Africa, the Middle East, and Brazil with incredible energy. And the FLUKES, Falmouth Library Ukulele EnSemble, played their version of “Mele Kalikimaka” to the delight of the audience. Two dancers from the Maine State Ballet joined the orchestra for “In the Christmas Tree” from The Nutcracker and Ray Cornils was on the returned Kotzschmar organ after a 2-year refurbishing. Soloist Susie Pepper added a memorable touch in her rendition of “Let it Go” from Frozen. The viola section was highlighted and played one of my favorites, Good King Wenceslas. My all time favorite is “Hallelujah” from Messiah which takes me back to my days in the high school choir. And, of course, the audience sing-along with the almost 3000 people in attendance joining together to make music. I am reminded of the power of music with all those voices.

Congratulations to Rick Nickerson who directs the Magic of Christmas chorus. Rick teaches music at Windham High School. MaryEllen Schaper, dance teacher, from Bonny Eagle Middle School is a member who has been singing with the Magic chorus for over 30 years. I am guessing that there are other teachers involved in the orchestra or the chorus. Please email me at argy.nestor@maine.gov so you can be recognized for your contribution to this delightful tradition.

I understand there are tickets still available for next weeks performance of the Magic of Christmas. I recommend going and making some memories of your own!


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