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Maine Development Foundation


Friday night art exhibits, jazz promoted by Waterville Creates!

The new group and other organizations hope to establish regular art walks in the city.


February 5th, 2015

Waterville Main Street
Ankeney Weitz, professor of art at Colby College, prepares for an exhibit, “SomewHERE: Visions from Chinese and Taiwanese Artists in Maine,” opening at the Common Street Gallery in Waterville on Friday. Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

WATERVILLE — The opening of three downtown art exhibits and an evening of jazz Friday are being promoted by the group Waterville Creates! as one of the organization’s first visible efforts to coordinate downtown arts groups and promote the city as an arts destination.

The Friday night event wasn’t organized by the group, which replaced the Waterville Regional Arts and Community Center in December, but it is an example of the type of programming the group would like to have in the future, said Executive Director Nate Rudy. All events are free and open to the public.

“I think it creates the synergy and a draw for folks to experience several different types of art in one evening, and the added attraction of live jazz later in the evening gives people an added reason to stick around,” Rudy said. “Really it just highlights and exemplifies all the different venues and partners the city has in art downtown and gives them all an opportunity to welcome the public. We figured these things are all happening, and we wanted to make sure everyone knew about it.”

The openings of the exhibits fall on the same day in part because of the need to work around multiple recent snowstorms that forced rescheduling, but the groups involved soon started talking about how they could work together. Waterville Creates! has been helping to promote the exhibits through Facebook and social media.

“It was a happy part accident, part planning,” said Lisa Wheeler, program manager for Common Street Arts. “But I think Waterville Creates! would be at the helm of something like this, a multi-venue art opening.”

She said there is an advantage to scheduling arts events on the same evening.

From 5 to 7 p.m., Common Street Arts and Colby College will host the opening of “SomewHERE: Visions from Chinese and Taiwanese Artists in Maine,” an exhibit curated by students at Colby College who were on campus during winter break. The show features artwork of artists from China and Taiwan living in Maine or with a connection to Maine.

Also from 5 to 7 p.m., the Waterville Public Library will host a reception for Abbott Meader, a local artist and painter, and will have on display a collection of his work inspired by his children and grandchildren. The reception was originally scheduled for Jan. 29, but was rescheduled because of snow.

The Framemakers on downtown Main Street will also be hosting a February artists’ reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Since owners Amy Cyrway and Brian Vigue took over the store in January 2014, they have hosted bi-monthly artists’ receptions and have tried to coordinate many of them with Common Street Arts, Cyrway said.

“We’re trying to encourage people to come downtown for a destination and try new things they’re not normally exposed to. It creates more of a sense of community,” she said.

About a year ago, Framemakers had an opening that fell on the same night as Common Street Arts, and both events were surprisingly well-attended, Wheeler said.

“When that happened again, we said, ‘That’s great, let’s help promote each other,'” Wheeler said. “And then the library’s opening was shifted because of a storm, and it just became yet another wonderful event happening. It’s turned into a big buzz.”

Rudy pointed out that the close proximity between the venues gives people a good opportunity to park in one place and explore downtown, including restaurants and shops.

“I think if somebody was coming to go to Framemakers, they’re already here. I think that what’s nice about it is they’re already here and we’re just a block away. I think it’s all positive,” Wheeler said.

Both Waterville Creates! and the arts groups involved in the events scheduled for Friday acknowledged that while the schedule fell in place in part by chance, the idea of an art walk is something they would consider working on in the future.

“It’s not an official art walk, but hopefully this will be the first of many,” said Cyrway. “I’m hoping we can get together with other businesses that have galleries and performing areas and start communicating about let’s do this on this particular night, all together, and promote the arts in Waterville.”

Wheeler said people are likely familiar with art walks in Portland, Brunswick and Bangor, and Waterville hopes to build those as well.

“We don’t want to imply a more formal pattern and plan, because right now we don’t have that,” Wheeler said. “It’s just sort of the perfect storm, but I think we would definitely be interested in talking with everybody that would be interested in doing that.”

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