Wiscasset’s Maine Art Gallery opened for the season May 7 with a reception days after selectmen passed the gallery’s 20-year lease of the former Wiscasset Academy. There was an air of celebration for the lease, which is helping the gallery seek grants.
Wendy Ross, president of MAG’s board, said, “It has been a long conversation with the town and gallery on details.” She said grantors want proof of long-term plans for the building; MAG has already received three grants in the past few months due to the lease negotiations.
Other board members were equally excited about the lease. Celia Ludwig, educational coordinator and secretary, said there are really great supporters backing the five educational programs. “You can’t get that kind of backing without the lease,” she said.
David Pope, chair of the building maintenance committee, said one of the latest grants went toward fixing the foundation. The next big thing will be to add handicap access, he said.
Some selectmen attended the reception. Selectman Kim Andersson said the reception was a real celebration. “I’m so grateful that the process came to a close. As far as I can tell, everyone in town supports this place 100%. Some of the people in town went to school here,” she said.
Selectman Terry Heller said MAG has been doing a “wonderful job for the past 60 years, and they will do a wonderful job for the next 60 years. This is the kind of magic you want to see in any community.”
The reception showcased “Time Shift,” an exhibit by Spindleworks, a program of Independence Association. Artists Sophie Jacobs and Nancy Scott curated the exhibit and other artists showcased their work.
Samantha Davison said a lot of her art is inspired by imagination and eagles. “I like watching them fly,” she added. Artist Barbara Carter said one of her pieces sold in the first few hours. She said this was her first show in Wiscasset. When asked about what media she creates with, she said, “I work with whatever I can find.”
Artist Barbara Welborn said, “It feels good to have some art here. I’ve been doing this since I was 3. I told my parents that I wanted to be an artist, and look at me now!”
One of the guests, Brett Bulmer, works for Independence Association and has worked with Spindleworks in the past. “A lot of people have emotional reactions to the art, but it is more so when you know the people (doing) the work. I’m really excited (about the show),” he said.
The reception was well attended, with guests spilling out onto Warren Street. The town recently gave the art gallery permission to close a section of the street for the reception. During her opening remarks, Ross said she was “so grateful to the town of Wiscasset for allowing us to close Warren Street.” Guests were entertained with live music and refreshments outside.
Artist Mentor Deirdre Barton said there were 40 artists showcased in the exhibit representing over 15 media. At 2 p.m. May 14, she will host an exhibit talk at the gallery with two Wiscasset artists, Anna MacDugal and Samantha Davison.