Posts Tagged ‘Dottie Hutchins’

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Who Are They? Wintergreen Arts Center – Part 6

September 17, 2017

Under the Willow Tree, a Creative Preschool

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

SNOW Sensory Table

On September 6, 2016, Wintergreen launched its creative preschool, Under the Willow Tree. The preschool was born from a very real need in the community—quality programming for preschool aged children. Our roster filled, even overflowed, and we currently have waiting lists for multiple years out. The need for creative choices in early childhood development is great and parent feedback keeps our program moving in the right direction.

Under the Willow Tree is an educational program for children ages three to five years old. It is open to an ideal class size of 14 students and meets Monday through Thursday mornings. The preschool implements a child-centered approach using small-group and hands-on activities to provide students with a diverse learning environment. The program teachers give instruction and guidance to children in ways that foster imagination, creativity, and critical thinking. The creative preschool program uses a variety of teaching tools and resources that engage all the senses and give students the opportunity to learn at their own pace.

Officer Kris and his Junior Wintergreen Officers

Presque Isle Police Officer Kris Beck was the first to visit Under the Willow Tree.

One item on the curriculum engages the students with individual community helpers. From police officers to firefighters, librarians and architects, the children fully embraced the idea of learning more about people who help our community.

“Inviting people like Officer Beck into the classroom is important for early career education and exploration,” said Mrs. Jillian Harris, Wintergreen preschool teacher. “It also introduces children to people who help to make our communities safe and successful.”

Officer Beck talked with the children about his job to protect and serve the community. He also allowed them to sit inside his patrol vehicle and ask questions about his uniform and the equipment he carries to perform his duties throughout the day.

In preparation for Officer Beck’s visit, the children worked all week making their own uniforms out of paper grocery sacks. They painted their uniforms blue and also made badges, hats, and stop signs to carry. The entire class was excited to meet Officer Beck and show off their uniforms.

2017_04_26_Mia Brewer visits PreschoolCommunity helpers who visit with Wintergreen’s preschool students are not always adults. Last April, 10-year-old autism self-advocate Mia Brewer visited Under the Willow Tree where she read a story, played with, and talked to the children.

Mia has autism and she also has a sister with autism whose needs and challenges are very different than her own.

“Mia doesn’t want to be or wish to be different, she likes being Mia,” said Lisa Brewer, Mia’s mother and Wintergreen preschool teacher. “We think our students agree that Mia is perfect just the way she is.”

In June 2017, Wintergreen celebrated their very first graduating class of creative preschoolers from Under the Willow Tree.  These children will forever hold a special place in our hearts.

On September 5, 2017, Co-Teachers Lisa Brewer and Katie Greenlaw welcomed a brand new class and look forward to another year of creative learning and exploration. The relationships and memories these children are making will last a lifetime.

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Who Are They? Wintergreen Arts Center – Part 5

September 16, 2017

CHAIR-ity and other creative fundraisers

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

CHAIRityOn November 3, 2017, the Wintergreen Arts Center will kick-off its third Annual CHAIR-ity event with an Opening Reception from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm during the First Friday Downtown Art Walk.  The show is free and open to the public.

Refreshments will be served and music provided by the very talented Brian & Doug from Common Crossing.

The third annual CHAIR-ity show will open and be on display at Wintergreen for the entire month of November. Opening bids begin during the November 3rd reception. The show will later go “on the road” with the 70th Annual Presque Isle Rotary Auction.

First, chairs are displayed in the Rotary Auction Showroom at the Aroostook Centre Mall beginning November 18; and, are eventually sold during the Rotary Auction on December 16.

“Last year local artists did an amazing job painting and decorating new wooden mini chairs,” said Dottie Hutchins, Wintergreen’s executive director. “This year, we are returning to our original concept of repurposing, recreating, and redesigning a wide variety of both large and small chairs, benches, stools, and unique seats of many ages, makes and models.”

Joyce picks the winner of Kelly Mathes GB house

Here you see Preschool Teacher Lisa Brewer helping Preschooler Joyce Hankins pick the winning raffle ticket for a Gingerbread House lovingly created by Kelly Mathes of Confectionately Yours, a bakery located in Presque Isle, to be auctioned off at the Family Gingerbread Festival.

This year’s event also offers a friendly challenge for not only individual artists, but for local businesses and organizations who seek a little bit of competitive fun for a good, charitable cause. The Presque Isle Police Department was the first organization to step up to recreate a chair for this year’s CHAIR-ity event and invited other teams to join them.

Holiday signature events also rank high on the list of Wintergreen’s creative fundraisers. From the Artful Egg, to Halloween Spooktacular, the Family Gingerbread Festival, and POLAR EXPRESS, Wintergreen opens its doors for family-friendly fun.

All of the gingerbread that more than 60 families use to construct their own gingerbread houses is artfully made and donated by the Culinary Arts students from Loring Job Corps of Limestone, Maine.

2016_Polar Express

It really does take a village to put on a Wintergreen signature event!

Wintergreen’s POLAR EXPRESS Event remains its most popular holiday fundraiser of all. Last year over 800 tickets were sold online in less than 10 minutes.

With the purchase of a $10 roundtrip golden ticket, each passenger climbs aboard the Presque Isle Historical Society’s Molly the Trolley who magically transforms herself into the POLAR EXPRESS. As the conductor punches tickets, riders enjoy a special holiday trip to the North Pole (Wintergreen) where Santa’s Elves serve hot cocoa and sing songs. Everyone gets to decorate sugar cookies, visit with Santa, and take home a jingle bell souvenir. After visiting the North Pole, holiday passengers are delivered safely back to their point of origination on the campus of the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI).

The success of Wintergreen’s fundraising events is due in large part to our community partners. Without UMPI, our POLAR EXPRESS would not “leave the station.” Without the Loring Job Corps’ Culinary Students, our Family Gingerbread Festival would have no bread. And, so it goes for all of our events. We cherish these partnerships and are grateful for their continued support over the years.

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Who Are They? Wintergreen Arts Center – Part 4

September 15, 2017

Thinking outside the Center, taking art to the people

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

ART with HeartDuring the summer of 2017, the Wintergreen Arts Center taught art classes at five locations in Presque Isle. Classes were held at the Presque Isle Housing Authority on Birch Street, the new Adult Daycare Center on Davis Street, Presque Isle Rehab and  Nursing Center on Academy Street, Leisure Village Retirement Center on Dewberry Drive, and of course, the Wintergreen Arts Center on State Street.

“We’re thinking outside the Center,” said Dottie Hutchins, Wintergreen’s executive director. “And, as part of our plan, we taught art classes in neighborhoods and senior care facilities throughout Presque Isle last summer. This is a big step in Wintergreen’s goal to take art directly to people who may not otherwise be able to get to our Center.”

It is also the result of community partnerships Wintergreen has been building with several organizations in the Star City. Partnerships created with the sole purpose of bringing neighborhoods and opportunities together.

PI Nursing Home

Wintergreen is also reaching out to enrich the lives of local senior citizens through art as well.

“The Aroostook Medical Center first invited us to participate in a partnership-building meeting at the Presque Isle Housing Authority about a year ago,” said Hutchins. “And the results have been quite amazing.  Probably a dozen organizations are now working together to bring a variety of quality programs to the Birch Street Neighborhood.”

Wintergreen Art Teacher Shaye McHatten taught ART-with-heart and photography at the Presque Isle Housing Authority. The goal of the ART-with-heart program was to create connections through art by incorporating teenage volunteers as mentors to work with the children on a wide range of art projects.

“Shaye taught arts and crafts at the Agency on Aging’s new Adult Daycare Center, and the Presque Isle Rehab and Nursing Center in July,” said Hutchins. “And, in August, we led a family history / genealogy group at Leisure Village.”

Pet PortraitsWintergreen also offered classes at its 149 State Street location. In July, Wintergreen Art Teacher Kara Addington taught Pet Portraits, a community arts project to help homeless animals find forever homes.  Students painted portraits of animals living in local shelters to be displayed at area businesses in hopes of inspiring people to adopt a pet.

In August, Shaye McHatten also taught photography at the Center.

“We feel our summer programming was a huge success at all locations,” said Hutchins.  “The feedback from surveys confirmed that we are on the right track to successfully bring art directly to people throughout our community; especially to those who may be challenged with transportation or other barriers. Our goal is to expand this outreach on a year-around basis.”

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Who Are They? Wintergreen Arts Center – Part 3

September 14, 2017

From nursing homes to pizza parties, creating relationships with paint

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

Mars Hill_Group ShotThe Wintergreen Arts Center brought the Sip & Paint craze to Aroostook County during February of 2015.  At first, it was a fun fundraising event, but later it turned into more—much more.

Just over a year later, Wintergreen received a call from Vicki Jackson, activities specialist at the Aroostook Health Center in Mars Hill, a 72-bed facility owned by The Aroostook Medical Center (TAMC) which provides long-term care and rehabilitation services. She heard about Wintergreen’s guided-painting events and thought it would be a great activity to offer her residents—right in their own facility. Then the idea of opening it up to the community took shape and Wintergreen was invited to take their Sip & Paint event on the road.

On April 13, 2016, a team from Wintergreen, which included three board members, their executive director and head teacher, had an experience they’ll treasure for a lifetime. Twenty-four artists joined them in the Aroostook Health Center’s dining room and picked up their brushes. From the ages of nine to 92, residents accompanied by members of their families, staff and the community, came together for an evening of comradery and creativity.

“What an excellent way to spend an evening with some of my favorite Wintergreen Arts Center people and the residents, family members and staff of the Aroostook Health Center,” said, Co-Chair Kim Guerrette Michaud. “My heart is full!” Kim’s sentiments were echoed by the entire Wintergreen team. Seeing residents in wheel chairs straighten up in their seats and paint side-by-side with their loved ones, neighbors and care givers, opened everyone’s hearts. Their paint brushes even allowed some, who may not verbalize their thoughts out loud anymore, to communicate with paint—in a complete and meaningful way.
Mars Hill_3

Vicki Jackson (photo, center, in flowered blouse) takes great joy in bringing new, fun and fulfilling experiences to the Mars Hill healthcare facility that brighten her residents’ daily lives.

“The residents and staff are still asking ‘when can we paint again’,” said Vicki.  “I would like to express my sincere thank you to Wintergreen for bringing Sip & Paint to our residents. It was a special night for them and we will always be grateful.”

Energized by their experience at the Aroostook Health Center, members of Wintergreen’s team set a goal to create more significant relationships with other age groups—teens and tweens. Historically the center’s programming and signature events draw participants of all ages but its core group of enthusiasts are children from the ages of toddlers through elementary school students. Drawing teens and tweens to the center on a regular basis meant attracting them with age-appropriate themes. So, Wintergreen gave their guided-painting event a twist and their new monthly Pizza ‘n Paint for Teens & Tweens became an instant hit for those just entering their double-digit through teen years.

RETRO_20160624_Group ShotWintergreen’s first Pizza ‘n Paint for Teens & Tweens night was held on May 27, 2016, attracting 21 young artists including eight from the Boys & Girls Club of Presque Isle. Wintergreen Artist / Instructor Caitlin Sanipass encouraged her aspiring artists to express themselves with a birch tree scene on canvas.

“Pizza n’ Paint was a success for the Boys & Girls Club of Presque Isle, along with other youth from the community,” said Fenton Jones, program director. “Thank you Wintergreen Arts Center for sharing this fun and learning-filled event with us!”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a national organization of local chapters which provide after-school programs for youth. The Boys & Girls Club of Presque Isle was established in 1995 by the Aroostook Band of Micmacs. The club accepts all students from ages five to 18, native and non-native; and, their mission is “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.”  Visit www.pi-bgc.org for more information.

With the help of a lead sponsorship from State Farm Agent John Harvell, and a sponsorship from Katahdin Trust Company, Wintergreen was able to cut the cost to area youths for their monthly Pizza ‘n Paint for Teens & Tweens; and, on June 24, 2016, the venue sold out for Wintergreen Teacher Corey’s RETRO ART:  Painting on vinyl records. With the encouragement of Wintergreen Event Planner Amy Joy Berube, others came forward to support the evening of creative activity; drinks were provided by Pepsi; pizza by Circle K; and the young artists enjoyed a special cookie intermission provided by Kelly Mathes of Confectionately Yours. A truly fun, filling night for teens and tweens in Aroostook County!

Another invitation from TAMC enabled the Wintergreen Arts Center to once again bring its guided-painting event on the road; this time in partnership with the Presque Isle Housing Authority.

Wintergreen+IMGThe mission of the Presque Isle Housing Authority is to assist low and moderate-income families with safe, decent and affordable housing opportunities as they strive to achieve self-sufficiency and/or to improve the quality of their lives. TAMC saw an opportunity to support the Housing Authority’s mission by offering fun, relevant, and accessible healthy living activities to their residents, and invited Wintergreen to participate.

At the request of members of the Housing Authority’s staff, Wintergreen took their Pizza ‘n Paint event directly to the Authority’s neighborhood community center. Three guided-painting events were organized: One for adults in July and another for teens and tweens in August, and one for families in November. All events were successful—especially the family event—in terms of bringing art into the Authority’s neighborhood; getting adults and children engaged in the creative process; and, building long-term relationships in the community.

Our entire Wintergreen team embraces these wonderful invitations to encourage creativity and the arts in Aroostook County.

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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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Who Are They? Wintergreen Arts Center – Part 1

September 12, 2017

Ten years of creativity and still inspiring

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

In 2006, Lara Cannon’s vision for a creative arts center in Aroostook County took shape when the Wintergreen Arts Center first opened its doors at the Aroostook Centre Mall in Presque Isle.  As a founding member, president and executive director, the young mother of three poured her artistic soul into leading Wintergreen’s countless volunteers to create an outstanding regional attraction for the arts. The center quickly drew hundreds of people of all ages—children, teens and adults—through its offerings of art classes, performances, and popular seasonal events.

Lara’s labor of love grew wings and landed in the middle of Presque Isle’s downtown revitalization efforts in 2008, when two Wintergreen supporters, Tony Burgess and Glenn Capp, purchased the historic Wight Furniture Building and offered Wintergreen a 10-year lease. Through amazing community support and a successful capital campaign, renovation soon began and the Wintergreen Arts Center opened its doors at 149 State Street in early 2010. A year later, Lara was recognized for her efforts and dedication by being named “Citizen of the Year” by her adopted Presque Isle’s Chamber of Commerce shortly before she and her family moved to the Portland, Oregon area where she became a graduate student in art therapy at Marylhurst University.

Under the Sea, AudienceSince 2010, Wintergreen has evolved and expanded its programming for students of all ages including a creative endeavor developed in partnership with the Presque Isle Parks and Recreation Department to provide accessible, high quality and affordable after school and summer art programs for students from grades one through eight. Other Wintergreen programs include our new creative preschool Under the Willow Tree, which meets four mornings a week and Mini Open Studio on Friday mornings for children up to 5-years-old. We also offer monthly Homeschoolers’ Classes for multiple age groups, and much more.

Wintergreen’s programming and other efforts over the years have been supported by grants from the Maine Arts Commission, the Quimby Family and Davis Family Foundations, as well as the City of Presque Isle, and others. Wintergreen also depends on both the financial and volunteer support of community members throughout Aroostook County. It is this kind of commitment that has seen the Wintergreen Arts Center though the ups and downs of being a nonprofit art center in a rural community. And, please believe us, the ups are definitely more fun than the downs, but like life, we don’t always get a choice.

Sip and Paint_May 2016In 2014, Wintergreen depended solely on its volunteer board to help keep the arts center going. Without an executive director, Co-Board Chairs Heather Harvell and Kim Guerrette Michaud rolled up their sleeves and took on the many daily tasks of keeping the art center’s doors open. Although Wintergreen was long on heart and soul, it was very short on cash. So, one of the first orders of business was immediate fundraising—the old fashioned way—and that involved jumping onto trending ideas such as Sip & Paint events and expanding seasonal favorites such as the popular Polar Express event. These types of fundraising efforts, among others, and some very well-timed donations from faithful supporters literally kept the doors open for the center’s board of directors to take a collective breath and once again put the Wintergreen Arts Center in a position for it to flourish.

Today, Wintergreen is still enjoying the one thing that is always constant, and that is change. With strong support from its board of directors including original members Cathy Beaulieu and Sue Nickerson and the their unyielding commitment to preserving the center’s mission—to provide meaningful experiences that encourage an appreciation of the arts, stimulate creativity and innovation, and offer an artistic community space where all are welcome—the Wintergreen Arts Center is again approaching change; another possible location. In early 2017, with less than two years remaining on the center’s 10-year lease at its current location, the board is exploring all its options. Wintergreen’s team sees this as a glass half-full and looks forward to a world of opportunities and its next 10 years of encouraging creativity and the arts in Aroostook County!

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In Today’s News

June 14, 2016

Wintergreen Arts Center

YAHOOO! The Bangor Daily News features the Wintergreen Arts Center at http://bangordailynews.com/2016/06/14/living/wintergreen-arts-center-looks-to-next-10-years/?goal=0_715eed3192-1caace1553-82612601.

I had a wonderful visit to the center in Presque Isle in May and wrote about it at https://meartsed.wordpress.com/2016/05/16/trip-to-the-county/. Dottie Hutchins and the folks at Wintergreen are working on a series of blog posts about the center so you’ll have a chance to learn more. Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 7.28.39 AM

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