Posts Tagged ‘ME’

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Who Are They? Oxford Hills Region Part 5

March 29, 2018

Oxford Hills Music and Performing Arts Association (OHMPAA)

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.

Dan and Shirli Allen founded OHMPAA in 1985 because they saw a need for a local venue for music, dance and theater in the Oxford Hills. At that time, the primary outlet for the performing arts was for students at the local high school. Except for Ragtag in Bethel, adults had no real performance opportunities. “Back then, we were bare bones and used the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School stage and any other place we could find,” says Jeff Orwig, member (and institutional memory) of the advisory board since the early 1990s. The early group performed works in the public domain and musical reviews because the royalty fees were minimal.

In early days, ticket sales covered all expenses: costumes, musicians, sets, props, and publicity. It has always been important to the group to produce shows that are affordable to the community. Early audiences of 50-75 enjoyed shows at a variety of locations. A local appliance store saved boxes for the sets and OHMPAA was able to produce at least one performance each year. When the high school stage was not available, OHMPAA performed in their then home at Paris Hill Academy.

In 2002, OHMPAA started doing shows in the Norway Grange #45, located at 15 Whitman Street in Norway, ME.  Jeff says “We felt like a moving company because we were doing winter shows at the Grange and summer shows at the Academy.” They eventually made an agreement with the Grange that it could become their home. Finally able to settle into a permanent space, OHMPAA upgraded the electrical service, built an extension onto the stage, and made numerous improvements. Today, OHMPAA cherishes this fine historic building and cares for it as if it was its own.

One pivotal display of community support was when local bookseller Erica Jed from Books N Things in Norway became a ticket agent as a courtesy to OHMPAA. She sold tickets for the past 12 years until recently when she sold the store. Thankfully, the new bookseller, Adrienne Cote, is opening The Tribune, and will honor this tradition. According to Jeff Orwig, this community gift has helped to expand ticket sales to the current capacity of 100 seats.

Jenny Adams, President of the Advisory Board, states the mission of the organization: OHMPAA is dedicated to the presentation of quality entertainment on a regular basis featuring the talents of local residents. On January 1, 2009, OHMPAA became a program of Norway Maine Opera House Corporation which is a 501(c)(3) organization. Today, the advisory board numbers 15 and represents a blend of performers, business and community leaders and audience advocates. Regulations have become more complex and members need to be able to navigate a wide array of complex issues however in the early days, board members were a group of artists who did everything. The board still chooses all of the programming and runs this non-profit organization as a break-even business.

Programming usually consists of two full length main stage shows — most often a play in June and a musical in November — 8 performances each. They also produce “extras” which are training workshops like Audition Workshop and Theater 101, which draw from a panel of local experts: Sally Jones of Norway (former teacher at OHCHS), Ethan Wright of Buckfield (teaches Music at Buckfield HS), Jamie Swenson of Portland and Kristen Short of Norway.

The program below is set for the 2018 season. Tickets sell from $8 to $12 per show and can also be purchased at the door or at The Tribune bookstore. OHMPAA accepts proposals from new directors for full length shows, one acts and children’s theater. The selection process takes place in the summer and two shows, plus extras, are chosen for the subsequent season.  TO LEARN MORE. For GENERAL INFORMATION or MORE INFORMATION. Or email OHMPAA@gmail.com.

  • June 14-24              Noises Off  A farce by Michael Frayne
  • July 28                     This is what Happened; Backstage Stories compiled by Sally Jones
  • November 8-18       Little Shop of Horrors by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman
  • December 6-9         The Gift of the Magi  and The Happy Prince in four area churches NO CHARGE
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Who Are They? Oxford Hills Region Part 1

March 1, 2018

Folk Art Studio at Fiber and Vine

This blog post is part one 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 serves 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.

The Folk Art Studio is housed in the downstairs space of Fiber & Vine at 402 Main Street in Norway. The studio offers a place for artists, craftspeople and makers of all mediums to gather, learn, share information, techniques, traditional crafts and art. Workshops are scheduled on a regular basis, usually on weekends, and have included Nuno Felting, Paper Making by Hand, Paint Brush Making with scavenged materials, Bookbinding, Doll Making from Scraps, Embroidery, Beading, Basketry, Printmaking, Wood Carving and more.

The studio was founded on the basis of Folk Art & Craft being for the people, by the people, and of the people.  Without ceremony, the folk arts have evolved by necessity over time and in every reach of the globe.  Clothing, toys and everyday objects were created within the community from materials that were readily gathered, harvested and processed, and with tools and implements that were rudimentary and easily fashioned. Historically, there were no textbooks or learning manuals, but rather information and techniques were handed down orally from grandmothers and elders to the younger ones. Technologies became tried and true and more sophisticated through time and progress. Today we live in a high speed digital world where information is easily accessed on our devices within seconds. The Folk Art Studio is a way to revisit the joy of creating in a relaxed collaborative atmosphere of learning and making, and revisit our inherit resourcefulness.

With the help of a Maine Arts Commission grant, the first year of programming was made possible and the Folk Art Studio was launched. Kimberly Hamlin, Manager and co-owner of the retail store Fiber & Vine (a yarn and wine shop) offers classes in knitting, embroidery, crochet, felting and the fiber arts and was a likely partner. Fiber & Vine offered space to help launch the folk art and craft center’s first workshops by lending a large wooden community table located at the back of the store (a work of art in and of itself). The Folk Art Studio enabled a handful of participants the chance to sit down in an inspiring environment, and make something beautiful and useful. Two years later, The Folk Art Studio accommodates as many as ten participants in a workshop setting in the downstairs of the store.

The Folk Art Studio engages local art educators, artists and artisans to offer one-day workshops at an affordable cost. It makes the studio available to artists who want to create their own programming to serve their established group of students. And, all participants are encouraged to request specific workshops that can be accommodated in the space. Recently, Fiber and Vine and The Folk Art Studio hosted an open house “Upstairs/Downstairs” where artists and artisans were invited to bring a current project to work on, enjoy lunch, snacks and beverages, and a controlled wine tasting in the store. So far, the line up of accomplished teaching artists include Don Best, Sarah Shepley, Kimberly Hamlin, Kristin Roy, Rebecca May Verrill, Becky Cheston, Patt Pasteur, Kate Castelli and Diana Arcadipone.

Although the workshops have primarily served adult learners, Fiber and Vine hosts a “Kids Craft Club” and plans to offer kids studio classes through The Folk Art Studio, gearing up for this summer. Continuing Education Certificates are available to teachers. SPRING WORKSHOP PROGRAM or on Facebook: Folk Art Studio at Fiber & Vine.

Saturday Workshops Scheduled this Spring

  • March 10: Wild Crafted Basketry with Rebecca Verrill
  • April 14: Woodworking with Don Best
  • April 28: Letterpress Postcards with Kate Castelli
  • May 5: Bead Loom Bracelets with Becky Cheston
  • June 16: Coiled Fabric Basketry with Patt Pasteur

Interested in learning more about the Folk Art Studio? Email Diana Arcadipone at arcadipone@gmail.com.

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In Today’s News

May 25, 2017

Monson

A dozen properties in the town of Monson, ME were purchased by the Libra Foundation for $750,000. They plan to put about $10 million into revitalizing the community. Their plans include converting houses into artist residences and the community center into studio space.

Read about it in today’s Bangor Daily News by CLICKING HERE.

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Making Art with Teens at the Portland Library

March 10, 2012

I met Justin Hoenke, the Teen Librarian at the Portland Public Library almost a year ago while visiting the library. At that time I wrote a blog post that included our meeting. The post below called Making Art With Teens (part 1), written by Justin with his permission is being reposted from his blog called Justin the Librarian blog.

In late 2010, it donned on me that the walls in my teen library were quite bare.  My teen library, which reopened in April 2010 after a $7.3 million dollar renovation, had all the wonderful elements of a new building: study rooms, lots of seating, a lot of windows, light and energy, and more.  But the walls were empty, boring, and stale.  Those are the things that a teen library does not want to be.  After some thinking, reading, learning about the community, and talking to others at my library, an idea became clearer to me.  What if it were the teens in our community that covered the walls with some amazing art?

I knew that in order to make this program happen we had to have a collaborator.  It’s one thing to be a teen librarian with an idea, but another to actually execute it.  The Maine College of Art, which is located just a few short blocks from my library, was the obvious choice for a partner.  I’ve always enjoyed seeing the work of the students at the college.  From that, I could tell that they were a solid organization to partner with on the project.  Along with my director and our programming coordinator,  we met with a few instructors from MECA and pitched our idea.  Our first step was to create a position description which MECA students could apply to (written by myself and our programming coordinator Rachael Weyand):

The Portland Public Library seeks students interested in or majoring in Art Education to collaborate with the Teen Center to create unique and original art with teenagers. Teens will have varying experience with art and will look to interns to help guide them through the process or creating art. These works will remain in the library’s permanent collection, will be displayed in the library and will be available to be checked out through circulation.

Interns will work closely with the Teen Librarian to define how collaborations will work before partnering with individual teenagers on projects. Work will take place either at the library or at MECA, depending on the discipline. This pilot project will rely on flexibility and creativity of interns in helping to create this program.

Once the position was posted, students could apply for the position.  MECA then selected a student for the position (I’m not sure how this was done, as it was all through the school).  We started working with our MECA intern Peter Hyde in mid January 2012.  Our first plan was for all of us to get on the same page and make sure we had the same goals in mind.  We mapped out a program that we would all feel comfortable with, which ended up looking like this:

  • The Library and the MECA intern will interview and select four teens ages 12-18 who will then work one-on-one with the MECA intern for two months in developing a piece (or pieces) of art which will then be housed in the Teen Library.
  • MECA will provide the studio space for the intern to work with the teens, and the Teen Library will provide the budget for the materials needed by those participating.

To get teens interested, we put the word out via social media (Facebook, Tumblr, library blogs), advertised the program heavily on the digital signage within the library, and also directly contacted local schools about the project. Our message to the schools was simple:

Hello, and I hope you are well. Thanks for taking the time out to read this email. I am looking for teens ages 12-19 who may be interested in creating art at the Portland Public Library. We at the library are proud to announce an art collaboration project with the Maine College of Art (MECA). For the next few months, selected teens from the Portland Public Library will be working with MECA student on an art education internship. The goal is for the MECA student (who applied for the position and was selected by the school) to work with teens to produce art created by teens with the assistance of the MECA intern that will be displayed in the teen library and possibly can be checked out by patrons. The medium which teens will work in will be depending on what the teen would like to work with. A majority of the artwork will be created at MECA with the intern supervising the teens.

I am emailing you to ask you if you wouldn’t mind passing this information along to any teens that you feel may be interested. They can contact mem Teen Librarian Justin Hoenke at 207-871-1700 ext 772 or visit me any Monday-Friday at the Library.

Once the word was out that the program was happening, teens that were interested started asking about the program and how they could get involved.  To gauge teen interest, Peter and I sat down with the teens who wished to be part of the program.  We talked to them about art, about the general idea of the program, and why they would want to be involved in the project. All of the teens we spoke with responded with great enthusiasm towards the project. Our final step was to select the four students that would work with Peter over the next two months.

And that’s where we leave off for now. I will be following up this blog post over the next two months with program updates, photos, and more. Thanks for listening.

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