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Who Are They? Wintergreen Arts Center – Part 2

September 13, 2017

How a celebration of life and art touched the County

This blog post is one of a 6-part series about the Wintergreen Arts Center in Presque Isle.  Wintergreen provides creative experiences that empower the young and young-at-heart to imagine, invent, and innovate. With quality arts education programming for children of all ages, family-friendly signature events, and adult programs, Wintergreen works with several community partners to deliver inspiring opportunities to help individuals bloom and Aroostook County thrive. Dottie Hutchins is Wintergreen’s executive director. You can learn more at www.wintergreenarts.org
Alan Mountain_Gallery view

During the month of May, 2016, the Wintergreen Arts Center participated in “May is Mental Health Month” with a show celebrating the life and art of Alan Mountain (1956–2015), a local artist who lived his entire adult life with a disabling mental illness. The show touched hundreds of people’s lives and through the generosity of Alan’s family, an auction of his artwork and the sale of a book he helped to write, brought in approximately $3,000.00, with all proceeds divided equally between the Wintergreen Arts Center and Catholic Charities of Maine.

“On May 6, we held an Opening Reception for Alan’s show during Presque Isle’s First Friday Downtown Art Walk which drew a crowd of over 125 people including several members of Alan’s family,” said Dottie Hutchins, Wintergreen’s executive director. “Alan’s mother, Alice Bolstridge gave a moving and candid talk about Alan, the importance of art in his life, and his mental illness.  Her bravery is equaled only by her generosity. The family’s gifts—both financial and groundbreaking—are extremely appreciated.

About her gift of Alan’s art and their book proceeds, Alice said, “With this donation, the family thanks these organizations for the important role they play in contributing to community mental health. I cannot overemphasize the therapeutic significance of artistic expression in Alan’s life.  And Catholic Charities’ mental health services provided for Alan’s needs in a variety of ways for most of his adult life: basic survival needs of housing, food, housekeeping services, and supplies he obtained in their ‘free’ store; that he often used in surprising ways in his art.”

Alice Bolstridge, a retired English teacher and native of Portage Lake, currently lives in Presque Isle.  She holds a PhD in English Literature, Oklahoma State University, 1987, MA in English, University of Maine, Orono, 1982, BS in Education, University of Maine, Presque Isle, 1970. She is credited with more than 100 publications of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction in a wide variety of literary magazines and anthologies; and, has received writing prizes from Maine Senior College Network, Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, and Passager Magazine. Alice’s focus on mental illness is both personal and passionate.

Wintergreen and Catholic Charities benefit from Alan Mountain art auction

Photo (L to R):  Catholic Charities’ Dixie Shaw, Alice Bolstridge and Wintergreen’s Dottie Hutchins

Dixie Shaw, director of hunger and relief services at Catholic Charities of Maine, said, “Catholic Charities is so thrilled to have this support from the family of Alan Mountain.  This will go far to provide services for those in Aroostook County struggling with mental illness.” If people would like more information about the services Catholic Charities provides in Maine, visit www.ccmaine.org.

The book Alice and Alan wrote, Oppression for the Heaven of It, a docu-fiction published under the pseudonym of Moore Bowen, won the 2013 Kenneth Patchen Award for an innovative novel. It is available from amazon.com, SPD, Ingram, Baker & Tayler. For more about the book and to read a copy of Alice’s gallery talk, visit https://moorebowen.wordpress.com/.

The Wintergreen Arts Center is deeply indebted to Alice Bolstridge for sharing her and Alan’s story; and, for her family’s generosity. It is the conclusion of Wintergreen’s board members that this is one of the best attended and most significant First Friday Art Walk Opening Receptions to be held at the center.

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