Who Are They?: Schoodic Arts for All, Part 3

May 27, 2015

Art club

This blog post is part of a series called Who Are They? where information is provided for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers to learn about community organizations and institutions that provide educational opportunities in the arts. You will learn that they are partnering with other organizations and schools to extend learning opportunities, not supplant. Please consider ways in which you can collaborate to provide excellent arts education for all learners.

safa_logo_blue_greenThis is the third blog post of the series highlighting the work of Schoodic Arts for All located in Hammond Hall, 427 Main Street in Winter Harbor. This area is called Downeast Maine and Schoodic Arts for All is at the intersection of Hancock and Washington Counties. Schoodic Arts for All is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering interest and involvement in the arts for all who wish to participate.

Schoodic Arts for All’s after school Art Club is a once a week hands-on experiential arts lesson for

In March, Art Club was all about Pottery: What a messy, fun time throwing clay on the wheel!

In March, Art Club was all about Pottery: What a messy, fun time throwing clay on the wheel!

Peninsula School children enrolled in the EdGE program.

EdGE (Ed Greaves Education) is an innovative youth development program of the Maine Sea Coast Mission for students in grades 4-8 in coastal Washington County. It is designed to encourage youth to stay engaged in school, aspire towards and attain higher levels of achievement, and develop the personal skills that will enable them to achieve success. These goals are pursued using a wide range of interdisciplinary and experiential curriculum.

The Schoodic Arts for All Art Club program brings students in the EdGe program together with

local professional artists and crafters who teach clay, metal, paint, paper, fiber, and more. Students in the club are encouraged to help choose upcoming guest artists by sharing their ideas of topics they would like to explore.  Art Club’s lead teacher, Anna Woolf records the students’ ideas and searches for local artists who will visit as guest artists.

This spring students in the Art Club are enjoying:Art ClubMarchPotteryWheel2

  • Pottery: on the Wheel and Hand-Building
  • Sumi-e: Japanese Brush Painting with Wendilee Heath O’Brien

Asian Art – Sumi – e, or dancing brush painting, is the art of making each brush stroke important. Students learn how to grind pine pitch ink, charge the brush, and capture the essence of what you paint on tissue fine paper.

  • Illustration with Bill Davis
  • Clay Pens with Mary Lyman

Many Art Club sessions have time dedicated to “Open Studio” to work on continuing projects and experimenting with new media. At this time, pottery is the foundation since the lead teacher is a professional potter. Other media that is openly available include any materials introduced while learning from the guest artists: polymer clay, a wide variety of drawing materials, painting materials, bookbinding, papermaking and marbling, and sumi-e brush painting.

Sumi-e Art Club 2

Guest artist Wendilee Heath O’Brien gave a wonderful lesson on Sumi-e, complete with inks and brushes from Japan.

Wendilee gave a wonderful lesson on Sumi-e, complete with inks and brushes from Japan.    She even taught a portion of the lesson in Japanese

Wendilee even taught a portion of lesson in Japanese!

For more information about Art Club and/or if you would like to visit as a guest artist e-mail anna@schoodicartsforall.org.


Phase 5 MAAI Teacher Leaders Announced!

May 26, 2015


Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 1.05.09 AMThe Maine Arts Commission is pleased to announce the Phase 5 Maine Arts Assessment Initiative Teacher Leaders.  Thirteen visual and performing arts educators have applied and were selected to join the 61 Teacher Leaders from the other four MAAI phases. The total is 74 Teacher Leaders. Fifty will be active this year. The MAAI Leadership Team joins me in congratulating the teachers listed below who represent all grade levels, PK-12 and Dance, Music, and Visual Arts.

Almost 40 teachers will meet for three days in Portland this summer for professional development that is likely to be energetic, mind-filling, and a great opportunity to expand ideas on teaching and learning. Not to mention a chance to meet and network with arts educators from across the state. I am excited about the work we are furiously planning. Of course I will keep you posted as the MAAI, Phase 5 progresses. If you have any questions about MAAI please don’t hesitate to contact me at argy.nestor@maine.gov. And, I do hope that you will join us at some point during Phase 5 at one of the professional development offerings that the Teacher Leaders are providing.


  • JOSH BOSSE – Madawaska Schools, grades PK-12
  • VIRGIL BOZEMAN – Richmond Middle/High School, grades 6-12
  • DIANNE FENALSON – Spruce Mountain Middle School, grades 6-12
  • NANCY KINKADE – Mattanawcook Junior High School, grades 5-12
  • TREVOR MARCHO – Mattanawcook Academy, grades 9-12


  • SAMANTHA ARMSTRONG –Paris and Hebron Elementary Schools, grades K-6
  • ELISE BOTHEL –  Narragansett Elementary School, grades K-5
  • IVA DAMON – Leavitt Area High School, grades 9-12
  • HOLLY LEIGHTON – Mattanawcook Academy, grades 9-12
  • LYNDA LEONAS -Farwell and Longley Elementary Schools, grades K-6
  • MANDI MITCHELL – Hermon High School, grades 9-12
  • ELISE PELLETIER – Scarborough High School, grades 9-12
  • ALLIE RIMKUNAS   – Great Falls Elementary School, grades K-5

The Maine Arts Assessment Resources page is located at http://www.maineartsassessment.com/. You will find a ton of information and resources that was either gathered or created by Teacher Leaders and the Leadership Team of MAAI from the past.


Introducing Jenn DePrizio

May 25, 2015

Director of Learning and Interpretation – Portland Museum of Art

jdeprizioheadshot1Recently, I had the opportunity to have a wonderful conversation with Jenn DePrizio, the Director of Learning and Interpretation at the Portland Museum of Art. This blog post provides you the chance to learn about Jenn and some of the work she is doing at the museum.

Please tell the Maine Arts Education blog readers about your background.

As an undergraduate studying art history, I didn’t even know museum education was a career option. I knew that I loved that learning about art of the past. I started in the classics department, but after a debacle in Greek class, I became an art history major. Art could convey ideas, beliefs, and political propaganda. Works of art can be both windows, offering a view beyond one’s self, and mirrors, providing a reflection of one’s self. Through my study of art history, I learned about not only the past, times and places different than my own, but also about myself and how I fit into the world. I thought, “This is so cool. How can I share this with others?” And then I learned from an intern supervisor, who is now my best friend, that I could make a career out of that desire! So off I went to George Washington University and got a Masters of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education. Before coming to the PMA, I worked at the Vermont Historical Society, Worcester Art Museum, J. Paul Getty Museum, and most recently Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. At each of these museums my main focus was on gallery teaching and creating engaging gallery experiences for visitors of all ages. I look forward to finding ways to continue this work in Portland, making the PMA a place of discovery, innovation and excitement in terms of gallery learning.

Why did you want to leave Massachusetts and move to Maine?

I have always loved Maine as a visitor and in particular Portland. For me, quality of life is an important factor in making decisions about my professional life. My husband and I were looking for a place to raise our young daughter. We wanted to live in a place that combined all the benefits of a city (including good restaurants and bars—for a number of years before having my daughter I wrote a cocktail blog), with a relaxed atmosphere and connection to nature. This past weekend as we enjoyed our lobster rolls and haddock sandwiches out at the Five Island Lobster Co., we were reassured that we made the right choice in moving to Maine.

Describe your responsibilities as the Director of Learning and Interpretation at the Portland Museum of Art.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 5.43.31 PMAs the Director of Learning and Interpretation at the PMA, I am responsible for developing enriching and engaging opportunities for visitors of all ages to engage with authentic works of art. A big part of that work since I have come on board at the PMA has been exploring who the museum’s audiences are currently and thinking deeply about who are the audiences that we are not reaching. Hanging over my desk, I have written a quote by David Carr that reads, “Museums aren’t for everyone. But they should be for anyone.” How can we make the museum accessible to anyone who may be inclined to want to explore art and creativity with us?

One of the greatest challenges for museum’s today is meeting the changing needs and expectation of today’s audience, while remaining true to one’s intellectual integrity and institution’s mission. Many museum-goers are savvy cultural consumers who expect to benefit from the museum’s expertise. They also want to be actively engaged and to be given the freedom to chose and organize their own experience. There are also a great number of Americans who do not approach museums with the same comfort level and sense that museums as vital places of learning and engagement. For many, museums are intimidating and a visit can be daunting, overwhelming and frustrating if they are not provided with basic orientation and safe entry points to begin to look closely and make meaning of the works of art. It is my responsibility to work collaboratively with my colleagues across the museum to ensure that the needs of both these types of visitors are considered and planned for.

What are the goals of art education programs at the Portland Museum of Art?

I am fortunate to have a dedicated and thoughtful team at the PMA to work with on a daily basis. Together we strive to encourage curiosity and wonder for visitors to the PMA. By offering audiences of all ages opportunities to connect with authentic works of art through programs that offer open-ended experiences, intellectual rigor and exploration of the creative process, we hope that we can impact the lives of PMA audiences. A successful art education program may look a little different depending on the audience and the activity. But if I were to imagine an ideal scene in the galleries that signaled success, here is what I would see and hear: Visitors would be looking closely at works of art. There would be times of quiet contemplation and moments of boisterous conversation. Visitors would share observations, possible interpretations, while the docent or staff would find ways to build on those ideas. Perhaps most important of all, visitors would wonder aloud, they would ask questions, they would speculate. Through that curiosity their connection to the work of art and the world around them would expand.

I believe that art museums can change people’s lives. As museum educators, my team and I have a chance to contribute to the vitality of our community by connecting art of the past and the work of living artists with contemporary issues relevant to our visitors. In working with varied audiences—school children and teachers, teens, families, adults, docents, museum members, tourists—we then craft programs that meet the individual needs of each.

Since many of your readers are classroom teachers, I can talk a bit more about our goals related to K-12 students and teachers. Currently, we serve about 7,000 students through our school tour program, but we could be serving many more. I hope that teachers know that visits to the PMA are free for them and their students.

Moving forward we will be building programs that promote the primacy of the in-gallery experience. What is unique about the experience that students can have at the PMA? By looking at and talking about works of art, students can develop their looking and critical thinking skills. Having seen the positive impact firsthand, I am huge proponent of Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) and am exploring ways we strengthen our programs using this teaching approach. Because VTS is grounded in research and developmental theory, it is rare as a pedagogy in that it begins with the learner and the questions they have, not the information that we, as adults, think is relevant to the students. The students guide the discussion to what they are wondering about, and the teacher is there to help them get to where they want to go. And the listening skills, the empathy and respect for others that VTS teaches connects back to the idea I was talking about earlier—the work of the L&I department at the PMA can impact the lives of our visitors in profound ways.

If you were given $500,000 to do whatever you please, what would it be?

While there are so many ideas I have, the first thing I would do with such a trove of money would be to make the museum free to all visitors. For many the financial barrier is a serious one, and to truly impact our community we need to eliminate as many barriers as we can. Art should be accessible to everyone. In the words of William Morris, “I do not want art for a few, any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few.”


Public Service

May 24, 2015

The Courier-Gazette

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 12.30.57 PMI was moved by Reade Brower’s weekly column, For the Record, in The Courier Gazette, May 7, 2015. Reade is the owner/publisher of The Courier-Gazette, a newspaper that was established in 1846. Reade is married to Martha, an old friend of mine and former art teacher and contributor to the column. With permission from Reade, I have re-printed part of it below.

Public service speaks for itself and comes in many forms, and is painted by many different brushes. What has become more and more apparent over the years is that who we serve is important.

Recognizing that living a noble life means doing something bigger than yourself gives one perspective and gives us the sense of a life well-lived. Giving back is not an exercise; it is a way of living. It is a choice.

The scene in the baseball movie “for the Love of the Game,” starring Kevin Costner, was prophetic of a life not complete: He reaches the pinnacle of his career and because of a self-centered lifestyle is found alone in his glorious moment with nobody special to share it with. When we make it about ourselves, that is the result. When we make it about others (us), we have each other to share in the moments of joy and the times of sorrow which defines a rich life and a life well-lived.

Recently, David Brooks of the New York Times wrote an article entitled “The moral Bucket List,” where he examined how and where he needed more balance in his life. Even though his professional career, his money situation and his external achievements have all gone better than expected and accomplished more than he ever dreamed, he recognized the need to develop more inner character for a happier life. He wrote, “If you live for external achievement, years pass and the deepest parts of you go unexplored and unstructured. You lack a moral vocabulary.”

Brooks went on to discover how what he describes as “deeply good people” live their lives and concluded that they are made, not born. Their goodness came from an “unfakable inner virtue.” They seemed to have a “call from within” that led them and they did “good” without thinking or forethought.

The column goes on to highlight a local educator who just received her master’s degree and exemplifies a “life worth living” each day, doing down to earth good work. I had the opportunity to work with Beth Gifford through an adult education program I was working with while at the Maine Department of Education. It is so wonderful to know that both Reade and Martha understand and value the importance of educators who have the combination of “good teacher” and “good person.” These educators are in classrooms across the state, day in and day out, doing the important work of what I call “teaching for life.” More of the article…

Martha Brower wrote recently in these pages about an extraordinary woman in our community who fits what Brooks has to say.

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 12.21.30 PMBeth Gifford tells Martha, “I will always be a grateful spirit whose evolution mirrors the souls of those whom I have blessed to serve.” She is an example of a person who turned a calling into a career and Martha celebrates Beth’s humble beginnings and her achievements when she shares with the community a story about Beth’s upcoming master’s degree.

I have observed Beth in action and seen firsthand Beth’s successes in helping others achieve and learn at the Learning Center, where she is the executive director. Her ability to lead comes from her innate sense to be non-judgmental and to treat her students like people. This year 13 students will graduate with their HiSET (formerly called a GED). A ripple will be created by these men and women that will continue through the years and solidify a legacy.

Education empowers people and gets them off welfare; more importantly, it gives them dignity and a thirst for learning that may never end. It is called inspiration and it makes for a life well-lived.

CONGRATULATIONS BETH and THANK YOU for the impact that you make each day being an educator and a learner. It is educators like you who provide wonderful examples of a life well lived, for your students and teachers who enter your classroom.


Tiny Desk Concerts

May 23, 2015


Bob Bollen hosts All Songs Considered for National Public Radio. In 2008 he launched the Tiny Desk Concert series where invited musicians perform behind Bob’s desk in the office of NPR. Someone sent me a link to one of the performances and I couldn’t stop watching, video after video. There are over 150 videos of archived show’s at http://www.npr.org/series/tiny-desk-concerts/.  Some of them are calm and intimate while others are crazy and rowdy. I suggest that you have more than 5 minutes when you click on the link.



Art Teacher Selected for Monhegan Residency

May 22, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 CONTACT: Susan Danly

May 14, 2015                                                             207.747.4586

Nathaniel Meyer, Wreck of the Venus

Nathaniel Meyer, Wreck of the Venus, 2013, oil on canvas, 36″ x 24″

PORTLAND— Three artists with significant ties to Maine have been selected as the 2015 recipients of the Monhegan Artists’ residency: Coreena Affleck (Yarmouth), Justin Richel (Rangeley), and Nathaniel Meyer (South Portland). Affleck and Richel will benefit from five‐week sojourns on Monhegan Island, and Meyer has been awarded the two-week residency for Maine K–12 art teachers, which was added to the program three years ago.

This year marked the first time that the Monhegan Artists’ Residency (MARC) was opened up to artists at all career levels, which brought in a 30 percent increase in applications. The jurors for 2015 were Bruce Brown, collector and former curator at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art; artist Lauren Fensterstock; and Laurie Perzley, Fine Art Director and Curator at Thos. Moser Gallery and MARC Board Member. “It took many hours to come to a decision given the high quality of applicants,” says Brown. “We selected the multi-media artist Coreena Affleck, painter, printmaker, and ceramicist Justin Richel, and painter Nathaniel Meyer with the belief that their diverse media will result in accomplished work and continue to add luster to the important legacy of MARC as a distinguished residency whose very location on Monhegan Island is truly important in the history of American art.”

The Residency supports the creative growth of dedicated Maine artists working in all media by providing them with time and space in which to work free of interruption and constraint. “During the jurying process, we had a lively discussion about art, the possibilities of an artists’ retreat, and the impact of visiting artists in communities,” says Fensterstock. “Monhegan’s rich history as an artist retreat inspires both a reverence for legacies past and an ongoing framework for innovation.” Since its founding in 1989, the organization has sponsored more than 50 artists, providing them with living quarters, studio space, and a small stipend.

The Monhegan Artists’ Residency Corporation is a non-profit organization supported by individual donations and foundation grants. For information, go to monheganartistsresidency.org or visit us on Facebook.


Lifelong Learning

May 21, 2015

Food for thought

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 7.49.39 PMSince I started working at the Maine Arts Commission almost 2 years ago I find myself thinking about learning, and the ages of learners, differently. My notion of learners has gone from PK-12 to from birth to death. This post has some of my thinking, the questions I ask myself, and the wonderings that I have especially when I am driving around Maine visiting arts education programs and educators.

There is so much research about the importance of parents as the child’s first teacher. How do we insure that all babies and pre-school age children have ongoing opportunities to learn in an informal way and experience the joy of learning through creative play? How do we keep the magic of learning alive for elementary students when the day is dominated by focusing on reading and math? We know that learning takes place when young people are allowed to make mistakes but the high-stake testing is about right and wrong answers. Is this sending young people a double message? What happens at middle school when we focus on students’ cognitive-intellectual needs only and don’t address their social-emotional, physical, psychological, and moral developmental needs? And, how do we prevent students from going on to high school and becoming (if not already) disinterested in learning and are waiting until they are 17 so they can drop-out?

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 7.49.27 PMI just painted a pretty glum picture, I know. This is the case in some, perhaps many, birth to grade 12 learning situations. The fact is that the high school drop-out rate (defined as 16-24) has decreased. In 2012 it was 7% for males and 6% for females (about a 6% drop). This is good news.

So, what if we shifted the paradigm so that rate went to 1% or how about 0? What if all schools had qualified teachers who worked collaboratively and focused on the needs of individual students? What if all teachers believed that all kids could learn? What if all parents were required to prove that they had the skills to be a parent when it comes to being their child’s first teacher? What if the learning environment focused on learning and not on the learning of math, reading, etc. only? What if learning was promoted for LIFE-LONG?

images-1What if all schools were truly standards-based/student-centered? A common statement I hear from visual and performing arts teachers is “we’ve always been standards-based”. Perhaps, that is true, but what about student-centered? Do we even know what that means? If schools were truly standards-based/student-centered, students would own their learning and would have the drive to excel. They would take the assessment to see how much they know, not what they don’t know. What if we did away with competition? What if all kids who wanted to participate could, on the platform of their passion and willingness to work hard to grow and learn and achieve?

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 7.49.51 PMAnd, what is the place of the visual and performing arts in a standards-based/student-centered learning environment? Would we need grade levels? How many high school classes presently have a combination of students in grades 9-12? How many arts teachers figure in behavior as part of a student grade? Are you determining the student status on their behavior? The grade on the report system represents student progress which includes behavior? What about the development of skills, understanding of the concept/subject being tackled in the creation of the artwork?  What about their creativity, problem-solving, use of medium? What about growing and learning and personal achievement?

About the older learners… what if when people got older they continued to learn? Here is that life-long learning piece. People are living much longer than they used to so we can not have the same expectations that were in place 50 years ago. The average person lives 8 more years than they did in 1970. The generation being born now are expected to live 20 years longer than their grandparents. How many older people shut down when they begin losing their memory? Is that necessary? The TimeSlips program that I wrote about in a blog post on May 1, 2015 is an amazing program that is designed for people with dementia.  Storytelling is at the heart of the program.

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 7.48.57 PMThis winter I saw the movie Alive Inside about how one man is introducing music to older adults using ipods. It is amazing to watch the impact the music has on these folks who react so positively because music is important to them in holding onto memories that some have put out of their minds. The trailer for Alive Inside is located at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaB5Egej0TQ.

And, Henry is one of the characters in the movie (who is himself). Watch what happens in this youtube video when Henry is given earphones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HLEr-zP3fc.

Think about what might happen if we take action and approach life a little differently.


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