Posts Tagged ‘Belfast’

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Who Are They? Waterfall Arts – Part 3

April 22, 2017

Making the Connections

This is the third of five blog posts in a series about Waterfall Arts, located in Belfast, and are posted April 20-24. 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.

Waterfall Arts (WA) was founded in 2000 on a rustic site in Montville by a group of local artists. Seventeen years later now located in a repurposed old schoolhouse in Belfast, WA is a vibrant midcoast arts hub with over 6000 visitors per year, still committed to its mission “to create community in harmony with nature through the transformative power of the arts.” WA offers resources to artists and arts enthusiasts of all ages, including classes, exhibitions, events, open media-specific studios (clay, print, and photography), free/sliding scale arts after-school programs for 4th-12th graders, public art projects, long-term studio space, and short-term rental facilities. As the co-founders and those involved are dedicated to an accessible, environmentally-sustainable center, they have embarked on a campaign to transform their old building into a model of creative energy efficiency and ADA-compliance.  Waterfall Arts is located at 265 High Street in Belfast. Website: http://waterfallarts.org, contact: info@waterfallarts.org or call 207.338.2222.

Waterfall Arts, Belfast

Hi, I’m Bridget Matros, Youth and Families Outreach Coordinator for Waterfall Arts. I help Waterfall share the power of art with people that might not naturally end up in the building, and I love it! When I first came to Belfast, this position didn’t exist. The “hundred-million dollar questions” I asked the first time I met Co-Director Martha Piscuskas were, “what does Waterfall do for local families? Do mostly wealthy people or professional artists come here?” I come from another small town where tourists enjoy what the local kids barely realize is there – so of course I was called to this disconnect, in what soon became my new hometown!

During my time at Boston Children’s Museum, my job was to engage urban families in artmaking. It sounds easy – it wasn’t! I think people in the arts forget how laden with psychological discomfort self-expression is for adults who were “scarred for life” during childhood. The arts also tend to be “bestowed” on communities by privileged people who speak a different language (sometimes literally!) and have a whole different set of values – so people can’t really make a connection in a real, deep way like they do with music from their home country, dancing in their living rooms, or a favorite photo. I developed many strategies for getting people comfortable with the arts on their terms – and one has been at the center of my approach here in Maine – fun! More specifically, free or cheap fun!

Kids learn through play, and it turns out adults do, too (especially with a running narration of the creative processes going on, and their practical applications)! By creating together, adults become advocates for the arts, and seek out more opportunities. We get the most newbies through our doors during “AAAH” events – All Ages Art Happenings. These are interactive community parties ranging from making a mini waterpark in the front yard to sitting down at a giant dinner table for a playdough pot luck.

Over 250 attendees at the fourth annual Glow Show

Our largest annual AAAH is The Glow Show – over 200 visitors enjoy a two-floor interactive installation of illuminated artwork, black light dancing, and glowing art activities. Fun that hinges on creativity is almost always cheap – Cardboard Boxes Are Really Fun involves collecting a couple hundred boxes from local businesses and donations of packing tape! Adults help kids erect an amazing castle-town and leave thinking about how easy it is to get creative at home. They also leave with a brochure of our classes, and some check out the gallery on their way out (a first for most, even with a town that has more art galleries than places to eat). Success! A “next step” might be for a dad to bring his son to one of our free Art Together Mornings, as a first ‘art class’ experience.

I think it’s critical that “outreach” be determined by the needs of the community, not the whims of an organization. For example, kindergarteners are “my people” –  but my first mission at Waterfall was to address the fact that in our school district, 6th graders don’t have art in school. I don’t know about you, but that would’ve done me in. So our first program was a free afterschool art club (“Bridge”) for 6th graders – the school bus delivers them to Waterfall for two hours every week. Some of these kids identify as artists on day one. Others, not so much. The goal is for kids to connect to themselves, each other, and the community. We do so through games, journaling, art projects, interviews, public art, gallery visits, and events.

A “Bridge kid” interviews local artist, Abbie Read.

The very first crew not only signed up for every session, but still come to Waterfall every week, three years later; the Teen Art Studio is a drop-in program mostly serving tweens and teens who need a creative outlet, free of assignments and judgement. What I love most about working with this age group is seeing the difference a creative safe-space can make for kids; hearing from teachers and parents things that never came across in Bridge: he’s introverted, she’s on the Autism Spectrum, he’s homeless, she’s learning-disabled, he’s failing his classes – as one student said, “everyone’s got different kinds of smarts. Art is good for finding what you can do and not worry about the rest – you just get to be awesome here!”

My second year with Waterfall, we were contacted by the local elementary school – art classes had been halved due to budgeting. I was able to visit the school with artmaking sessions, making some 200 new friends! We then started an afterschool art program for fourth and fifth graders, which is still going strong. We have a generous scholarship fund so we never have to turn anyone away for any of our fee-based programs.

The Art Tent acts as a starting point for families, at Fourth Friday Art Walks in Belfast.

During the summer, Bridge kids help to staff our “Art Tent” at community events and during the monthly Art Walk downtown. Next summer we’ll equip families with a map to family-friendly galleries along with our guide to looking at art with kids, informed by local gallery owners’ enthusiasm (and trepidations) regarding young visitors.

During a 2014  town hall-type survey of interests among mid-coast artists, teachers, gallerists, and organizations, “connecting to more people” was a unanimous priority – my position was fully funded later that year by the Quimby Foundation. Now a generous collective of sponsors and supporters keep my work going and allow us to assess and address the changing needs in Waldo County. We’re so grateful for the opportunity!

I hope that every reader will support our young creatives by “liking” and following our Facebook page, Bridge:Young Artists Connecting:

www.facebook.com/WATERFALLBRIDGE

This post was written by Bridget Matros, Waterfall Arts Youth and Family Outreach Coordinator and BRIDGE Instructor. Bridget has been an educator for fifteen years, teaching at every level and setting from preschool circle-time, computer labs for the elderly, and seminars for teachers. Her academic and experiential background includes a BA from Oberlin College in Sociology and Psychology, informing her development of successful programs for diverse crowds. She developed and grew the Art Studio exhibit and program at Boston Children’s Museum for ten years and deemed one of 21 “young leaders in arts education” by Harvard scholars, is a published advocate for quality creative development in early childhood education.  As an artist she transmits through a range of visual media as well as producing video, singing, and writing. www.bridgetmatros.com. Bridget can be reached at bridget@waterfallarts.org.

 

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Who Are They? Waterfall Arts – Part 2

April 21, 2017

Curating for Community

This is the second of five blog posts in a series about Waterfall Arts, located in Belfast, and are posted April 20-24. This is part of a series called Who Are They? 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.

Waterfall Arts (WA) was founded in 2000 on a rustic site in Montville by a group of local artists. Seventeen years later now located in a repurposed old schoolhouse in Belfast, WA is a vibrant midcoast arts hub with over 6000 visitors per year, still committed to its mission “to create community in harmony with nature through the transformative power of the arts.” WA offers resources to artists and arts enthusiasts of all ages, including classes, exhibitions, events, open media-specific studios (clay, print, and photography), free/sliding scale arts after-school programs for 4th-12th graders, public art projects, long-term studio space, and short-term rental facilities. As the co-founders and those involved are dedicated to an accessible, environmentally-sustainable center, they have embarked on a campaign to transform their old building into a model of creative energy efficiency and ADA-compliance.  Waterfall Arts is located at 265 High Street in Belfast. Website: http://waterfallarts.org, contact: info@waterfallarts.org or call 207.338.2222. This is the second of five on Waterfall Arts.

Waterfall Arts, Belfast

In the early days of Waterfall Arts, we were all volunteers running summer classes in a collection of rustic buildings and tents in rural Montville, Waldo County. All exhibits were pop-up, day-of, showing teachers’ and students’ work, often together. We were all about just getting the work out there. Prints, glass beads, earthmounds, dances performed under waterfalls, drawings and paintings, clay pots, floating burning boats.

Today, we annually exhibit about 200 artists of the highest caliber, and the variety is as eclectic and interesting as ever. Now in Belfast year-round, we plan two years out for our two exhibition spaces. We show work of artists near (in the building) and far (Japanese photographer Koichiro Kurita) and of all ages, from life-long painter Harold Garde at age 90 to 4-year-old Eliot Bee Andrews and her fairy sculptures.

Our curating process is by committee, with different staff or volunteers taking the lead.

Every spring two open (non-curated) community shows bring in work from all over: in March, the Young Artists’ Gallery Takeover exhibit features hundreds of works by Waldo County artists under age 18. In April, the Open Call show has attracted as many as 200 artists from all over the US. Themes have included the all-cardboard creations, works of exactly one square foot, Earth, and printmaking (celebrating our new print studio). These shows fill both the three-floor Corridor Gallery and the 725 sq ft Clifford Gallery.

True to our roots, we still like to show work outside — on the lawn, on the building, in the town.  We’ve made murals and chalk drawings, projected video onto the building from an old car parked on the lawn, and installed stone and metal sculpture.  Grants help drive some projects, such as our permanent Willow Dome on the front lawn and the seasonal Living Wall, a vertical garden on the south wall designed, cared for, and installed by students from partnering schools.

Some exhibitions are developed from scratch, in-house — usually long-term projects that require external funding and sometimes a large crew. The show “David McLaughlin: The Art of Salvage” was two years in the making. David, who had recently passed away, owned an entire cannery as his live/work environment, filling every nook and cranny with metal and salvaged objects. With his heirs, we reached out to find and catalogue the assemblaged and metal sculpture of this talented and beloved local metalworker. We also received permission to disassemble a small entryway, and then precisely reassembled it in the Clifford Gallery with all its contents, including several tons of metal tools. Large photographs of the cannery, as well as another built environment, graced the gallery to augment and highlight the sculpture. One visitor commented that it was “as good as a Smithsonian exhibit.”

Artists, teachers or friends sometimes propose a show; if the committee gives a green light, we’ll collaborate and curate together. In 2015, we worked with Waging Peace/Maine to bring together two well-known painters — Rob Shetterly (“Americans Who Tell the Truth” series) and Alan Magee (allegorical war-torn figures) — for a powerful exhibition, an artist talk broadcast on community radio, and well-attended workshops with national peace activist Paul Chappell.

And then there’s luck. Sometimes when you pick up the phone and call a famous artist, like Arthur Ganson, they say yes. The exhibition of his kinetic sculpture was one of the most visited and interactive we’ve ever had.

Waterfall Arts seeks to present work that is topical and community-minded, that emphasizes the rich artistic talent here in Maine while also introducing new or national voices, that provokes discussion, raises awareness of the creative process and provides a glimpse into the mind of today’s artist in a challenging world. While art sales matter, they are not a major curatorial factor —  inquiry and freshness are.

We’ve learned on the fly, had help from amazing artists both in shows and on our committee, and, without fail, are inspired with every new show.

This post was written by Martha Piscuskas, Waterfall Arts Director of Programming. Martha is one of the founders and longtime volunteers of the organization. She has 25 years of non-profit management experience, having worked for or directed numerous progressive organizations in Maine. Along with her four siblings, Martha is also an artist, making interactive installations and community performances. She holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Wesleyan University, and a BFA from the Maine College of Art. Martha can be reached at martha@waterfallarts.org.

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Who Are They? Waterfall Arts – Part 1

April 20, 2017

Waterfall Arts

This is the first of five blog posts in a series about Waterfall Arts, located in Belfast, and will be posted over the next four days. This is part of a series called Who Are They? 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.

Waterfall Arts (WA) was founded in 2000 on a rustic site in Montville by a group of local artists. Seventeen years later now located in a repurposed old schoolhouse in Belfast, WA is a vibrant midcoast arts hub with over 6000 visitors per year, still committed to its mission “to create community in harmony with nature through the transformative power of the arts.” WA offers resources to artists and arts enthusiasts of all ages, including classes, exhibitions, events, open media-specific studios (clay, print, and photography), free/sliding scale arts after-school programs for 4th-12th graders, public art projects, long-term studio space, and short-term rental facilities. As the co-founders and those involved are dedicated to an accessible, environmentally-sustainable center, they have embarked on a campaign to transform their old building into a model of creative energy efficiency and ADA-compliance.  Waterfall Arts is located at 265 High Street in Belfast. Website: http://waterfallarts.org, contact: info@waterfallarts.org or call 207.338.2222. This is the first of five on Waterfall Arts.

Kingdom neighborhood of Montville

Hello, I’m Alan Crichton, one of the founders of Waterfall Arts, and I want to tell you how we began sixteen years ago and why we are called Waterfall Arts. As sometimes happens with beginnings, a lucky combination of people, place, need and opportunity just seem to connect at the right time, and a new community energy is born.

For Waterfall Arts, this phenomenon happened in 2000, when a small group of local artists gathered to share their affection for the two converging streams, ponds and waterfalls of the Kingdom neighborhood of Montville. The Kingdom‘s history includes a million year old natural falls as well as two man-made falls at the breast of two ponds. The falls have been a source of many kinds of creative energy for ages. The steady energy of flowing water constantly calls people to contemplation and renewal, invention and industry, and, finally, the power of the arts in a community. This connection of natural and human history is at the heart of the Waterfall Arts’ story, purpose and mission: To create community in harmony with nature through the transformative power of the arts.

Our founding group shared goals for the future: to create aesthetic experiences that enhance and inspire people’s creative abilities and transform their lives. An equally important goal was to reach people who had not had such opportunities before.

In 2006, Waterfall Arts moved to Belfast’s iconic, 80-year- old Gov. Anderson School where we are now celebrating our first decade as “Waldo County’s year-round community arts center with a global appeal.”

Waterfall Arts, Belfast

Over sixteen years, the founders, board and staff have developed hundreds of activities for thousands of visitors and participants: arts exhibits, music and dance concerts, education in all creative media, exciting events that support and nurture artists, farmers, life-long learners and the economy; all with the intention to increase ability, expand awareness, and strengthen community.

What does the future bring? Through innovative architecture and engineering, a Capital Campaign, called Waterfall Rising, is beginning. Its purpose is to ready both our building and Waterfall Arts for our next 80 years by conserving and producing as much energy as we consume, as well as by expanding our capacity for exhibition, performance, education, new media and economic vitality. Our historic building will become a landmark environmental destination as well as a contemporary source for area arts, education and culture. This Waterfall has flowed fast and true for ten years in Belfast. Watch now as it begins to rise!

Alan Crichton is a sculptor, draftsman and writer living in Liberty. Educated at the University of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Goddard College and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, he has taught at Unity College, Colby College, the MFA program at Vermont College and the Farnsworth Museum and has exhibited throughout Maine and New England for over 30 years. He is the co-founder of Waterfall Arts and can be reached at alan@waterfallarts.org.

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Belfast Mural

December 17, 2016

Fantastic sea creatures

Children paired with artists create fantastic sea creatures in downtown Belfast, Maine. The mural project was funded by an anonymous donor through the Maine Community Foundation’s Waldo County Fund.

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Pride of RSU 20

May 15, 2013

RSU20 Student Artshow poster 2013

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Troy Howard Middle School

March 30, 2013

“I say Tomato ,You Say Tomato”

DSCN2203 The students and staff of Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast has used their collaborative creative energy to combine two facets of the school’s program to form a fascinating art exhibit at the Belfast Co-op.  The title of the show, “I say Tomato ,You Say Tomato” reflects the ecology department as well as the art department. Each year the two departments coordinate using a theme to represent Troy Howard Middle School’s philosophy. This includes Ecology as one of it’s three Academies and the Art Department as an essential piece to all criteria of Education.
The show is comprised of 12 Tomato projects. Mediums include clay, paper mache, paint, pencil, ink, and a full sized farmer!  Pieces are for sale and six have been sold!  The show runs until the end of the month-don’t miss it!

Thank you to art teacher Lynnette Sproch for sending the information and photographs for this blog post. 

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Artwork Bigger Than Life!

February 1, 2013

Troy Howard Middle School

DSCN1986I recently received an email from art teacher Lynnette Sproch describing exciting description of the artwork  just completed with 13 students who are involved in “art enrichment”. The students meet with Lynnette during a time that is set aside for homework and some also meet during their scheduled art time to go beyond the planned curriculum.

Students pondered and determined that they wanted to collaborate using papier mache to create large sculptures. They created tightly wound newspaper armatures that are held together with masking tape and covered with strips of paper dipped in papier mache solution. One is a man that was hanging in the art room during the time of covering. The student who created it then took home clay and molded a face which was attached. His problem solving skills were enriched while working on the leg angles, so that once hanging against the ceiling there would be no gaps and he would appear to be bursting through the ceiling.

DSCN2155Lynnette had to use a ladder with a “bucket” to get high enough to install the artwork in the foyer 15-20 feet from the ceiling. She said that the goose and the guitars were fairly easy to hang and added brilliant color. The blimp is hanging down the art hallway and no one has touched it (low enough to jump and hit).

She took the students on an in-house field trip to the foyer and on arrival they looked up in amazement. One student wrote a huge sign that says LOOK UP! It took about three months to complete the sculptures. To celebrate the completion of the sculptures they took an out of school field trip to the Farnsworth Museum. Before their departure from Belfast to head south on route 1 to the Farnsworth they had a yankee swap and breakfast at McDonalds first. (does this sound like middle school?!)

Lynnette said: “What a lovely treat to work with this most excellent group of kids.”

You might remember the Mt. Rushmore that Lynnette’s students created last year https://meartsed.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/mt-rushmore-in-belfast/.

Thank you to Lynnette for sending me the information and pictures of the artwork. Perhaps you have an idea that you’ve been working on that you’d like to share. Please email me the information.

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