Archive for March 22nd, 2018


Who Are They? Oxford Hills Region Part 4

March 22, 2018

Western Maine Art Group

This blog post is part of a series that aims to bring awareness to the Maine Arts Ed blog readers about the many visual and performing arts venues and educational opportunities in the Oxford Hills. The Oxford Hills Region of Maine is a perfect setting for the arts as it is centrally located where the rolling foothills of the White Mountains and beautiful lakes regions intersect. Located 45 miles north of Portland, 35 miles east of New Hampshire, and 20 miles west of Lewiston-Auburn, the region hosts multiple year-round opportunities for learners of all ages and a thriving arts community. The Oxford Hills School District (SAD17) is Maine’s largest school district in geographic area, with nine community schools, a regional middle school, a comprehensive high school and the Streaked Mountain School, an alternative school for high school students. The Oxford Hills include the towns of Buckfield, Harrison, Hartford, Hebron, Mechanic Falls, Norway, Otisfield, Oxford, Paris, Poland, Sumner, Waterford and West Paris. A great big THANKS to Diana Arcadipone for writing this series of posts.

Melanie Tornberg, current President Western Maine Art

Melanie Tornberg, member and current president of the Western Maine Art Group (WMAG), took classes at WMAG as a child of 9 years old through her teens and up to graduating from high school. She went on to study painting and earned a BFA from The University of New Hampshire. Making a living as an artist was hard and being a small town girl, Melanie was not interested in moving to a big city.  She settled in Southern Maine with her husband and two children and decided to go back to school in biochemistry. Melanie worked as a scientist for twenty years during which time she didn’t stop painting and she continued to exhibit her work. Currently, she is settled in Western Maine and splits her time between her studio and her role as member and president.

Melanie is passionate about the Western Maine Art Group and helping artists define community.  Her story is unique because of her long history with the organization as well as her science background, but she is not unlike the 60 other members who practice their art and artisanry.

The WMAG has been in existence for over 50 years and became a non-profit 501(c)3 organization in 1962 through the efforts of Hungarian artist Professor Lajos Matolcsy and his students Lee Bean and Ellie Viles. Their mission was to provide opportunities for artists and artisans in Western Maine to learn, exhibit and teach while providing community access to original art.  For more

Matolcsy Center

than half of it’s existence, every Monday night, WMAG has offered a life drawing session (anyone over the age of 18 is welcome).  The organization operates the Main Street Gallery (an artists cooperative) and the Matolcsy Art Center, where its headquarters are housed in the first school house on Main Street in Norway. Both sites are within walking distance of each other and are frequented by locals and tourists from all over.

Membership to WMAG is inclusive and affordable at $25 a year (friend), $50 a year (exhibiting artist) and offers it’s artists and artisans a multitude of exhibition opportunities both on and off site (most recently at The Maine Medical Center Cafe in Portland), educational opportunities, teaching opportunities, workshop space, web exposure, participation in the Norway Art Festival, First Friday’s, community engagement and more. For artists interested in becoming a member of the coop Main Street Gallery, the fee is $30/month.

The organization works with the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Guidance Department to award two annual scholarships to graduating students. And in addition, one of the programs that members are most proud of is an annual standing tradition; The Student Show in May. WMAG works with local art teachers to curate the exhibition and award prizes to middle school and high school students in design, painting and photography.For additional information about visiting, members, events and more, visit the website at


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