Sculptures similar to those appearing across Down East Maine will arrive in the greater Bangor area late next summer.
The 2012 Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium will take place July 22-Aug. 31 as a partnership between the SISS and the University of Maine. According to SSIS Project Manager Tilan Langley, “we will have a working site at the Steam Plant Parking Lot on College Avenue, with that pretty [Stillwater] river behind there.”
At this site, eight well-known sculptors will create sculptures while working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily during the six-week period. The eight sculptures will be permanently displayed later this year in Bangor, Old Town, and Orono.
The first Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium took place in 2007 at the Schoodic Education and Research Center, located at Acadia National Park’s Schoodic Unit. “Our mission is to work with communi-ties to bring to them large-scale contemporary granite sculptures,” Langley said.
“We provide them with a method of obtaining these granite sculptures that would otherwise be finan-cially difficult to acquire,” she said.
During the 2007 symposium and those held in 2009 and 2011, the SISS “brought national and interna-tional [stone] artists here to work with Maine artists,” Langley said. “Granite is a special resource that we have here.
“The artists create a sculpture unique to a particular community,” she said. “As soon as they (artists) ar-rive, they begin to interact with the community so they can get a feel for it. Some artists have an idea of what they want to do” in granite, but “we like them to keep an open mind” about the sculpture’s display site “and get a feel for what should go there.”
Each symposium incrementally adds tourist stops to the Down East Sculpture Trail, described by Langley as “an outdoor exhibition of public art.” The trail currently encompasses 19 sculptures stretching from Deer Isle to Eastport, with the SISS planning to set up a sculpture in Sorrento this spring.
“Folks who are visiting Maine can obtain a tour map, and they can follow the trail to where all the sculptures have been placed,” Langley said.
Tourists may notice that not all sculptures are the same color. According to SISS Director Jesse Salisbury, “there is a variety of colors and shades from white to gray, pink to red, and gray to black. The colors can be as diverse as our geology.
“We have utilized granite from at least eight locations in the past throughout Washington, Hancock, and Waldo counties,” he said. “We work with working quarries and sometimes [utilize] abandoned quarries to get the stone.
“A local stone is often desired, if available” in towns with “a long history of local quarrying,” Salisbury said. One example was the sculpture set up at Roque Bluffs State Park late last fall; the stone was quarried locally.
Sculptors will receive sufficient granite this summer. “There is a logistical weight limit for the 2012 sym-posium of 18,000 pounds for each raw block of stone provided” to the sculptors, he said. “The stones will be transported by University of Maine Facilities Management equipment and by independent contractors using commercial trucks and trailers that can handle the weight.
“We have utilized more than 100 tons of stone to create six sculptures in the past,” Salisbury said. “The finished sculptures, often incorporating more than one stone, weigh anywhere from three tons to more than 10 tons.”
Initially the next Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium was not scheduled until 2013, “we were approached by the University of Maine. There was some interest there,” she said. “We have had some inter-est from communities near the University of Maine, so it makes sense to have it (2012 symposium) here.
“This will be our largest symposium to date,” Langley said. “This particular symposium is different in that we are working with larger organizations” rather than only with municipalities.
“We will have eight groups that are going to receive a sculpture,” she said. The eight groups are:
• City of Bangor;
• City of Old Town;
• Eastern Maine Healthcare System — Acadia Hospital;
• Husson University;
• Town of Orono;
• University of Maine Foundation;
• University of Maine (on-campus site);
• University of Maine — Nutting Hall as a Percent for Art Project.
Except for Nutting Hall, the seven other sculpture sites have not been determined.
The 2012 symposium could bring 10,000 people to see the sculptors at work in Orono. “This is a huge opportunity for the University of Maine,” said Elaine Clark, the UM executive director of facilities, real es-tate, and planning. “We’re using an art form to bring quite a bit of activity into Orono and the UMaine campus when it’s normally very quiet.
“We hope there will be an economic impact for the university and the whole area,” Clark said. “In addi-tion, our students will have the opportunity to participate through course work and apprenticeships.”
According to Langley, an intern will assist each sculptor this summer. The three UM students who in-terned during the 2011 symposium will do so again in 2012.
Fund-raising efforts are underway to fund this year’s symposium. Each participating municipality or or-ganization must raise at least $20,000; each sculpture costs approximately $40,000, according to a UM press release.
“It takes a lot,” Langley said. “One quarter comes from in-kind support. A quarter of it is fund-raised through the communities. Then a quarter is fund-raised through grants and proposals. The other quarter we raise in-house; it takes a lot.”