PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Throughout its six years of existence, the Wintergreen Arts Center has continually looked for ways to bring additional programming to more people. At the same time, The Aroostook Medical Center has worked for 101 years to keep people healthy.
Now, the two organizations have collaborated to create a unique vehicle to help them do both together.
They recently announced a new venture that will bring art and health care related activities to communities throughout The County using a decommissioned ambulance that may be familiar to people in the area.
The Presque Isle based arts center and TAMC have developed the Wintergreen On Wheels and TAMC “In Your Town” Mobile, that will be used as an on-location art studio. The WOW/TAMC Mobile will bring wellness activities to the surrounding area while also helping both organizations with community outreach efforts.
Wendy Zubrick, executive director of the Wintergreen Arts Center, said Thursday that she was very excited about the partnership.
“This will allow us to engage more children in art and healthy activities in communities throughout our region,” she said.
The arts center is a nonprofit organization located at 149 State St. in downtown Presque Isle. The center works to encourage appreciation of the arts and stimulate creativity and innovation while also offering an artistic community space for everyone. The WAC offers art classes and exhibits, open studio time where families can come to work on projects, features a studio cafe, and sponsors a variety of other activities during the year among other things.
The concept for the WOW/TAMC Mobile came about as a result of the positive response throughout The County last year to the TAMC Birthday Buggy. The decommissioned Crown Ambulance was transformed into a celebration vehicle that traveled to many summer events and was even used as a staging vehicle for drive-up flu shot clinics and miniature health fairs during TAMC’s centennial celebration.
Dr. Jay Reynolds, TAMC chief operating officer and chief medical officer, said that the hospital used it in the community as a focal point in which to center activity and engage others in its celebration and its ongoing efforts to promote healthy living.
“When the folks at Wintergreen Arts Center approached us about partnering on something that would involve the community and help the art center expand its services, the idea of joining forces in this way was born,” he explained.
The new WOW/TAMC Mobile will be packed with art supplies so volunteers with the Wintergreen Arts Center can take it to a community for special events and offer art activities on-site. Zubrick said that both agencies are planning to try to work it so both can use it at one event at the same time. She added that the center will try to tailor its art events so that they appeal to people of all ages. At the same time, TAMC will continue to use the mobile to bring health-related activities to towns in the region. The two organizations also plan to have the vehicle appear in local parades and at festivals throughout the summer months and into the fall.
For TAMC, the partnership with Wintergreen Arts Center is the latest initiative in an ongoing commitment to look at health from a broader community perspective. Recent activities, sponsored by the TAMC Total Health Team, have been built on the health benefits of things such as pet ownership and being active in the winter months.
The first mobile art project will involve using the vehicle itself as a three-dimensional canvas. Wintergreen artists of all ages will use paint to transform the vehicle into a moving mural.
Zubrick said that the look will come together with the help of professional artist Heather Harvell of Presque Isle, as well as children who take part in programs at the center, along with any other community members who want to take part. She said that Harvell will help design a backdrop and then young artists and community members will add their own artwork. Then professional artists and Harvell will tie it all together.
“This is certainly among the most unique projects I have worked on,” said Harvell. “It will truly be a creative collaboration in that artists of all ages will have a hand in transforming this vehicle into a mobile piece of art. I am looking forward to seeing this project evolve as the many artists who have a hand in creating it will each put their special touch on this one-of-a-kind canvas.”
Prior to any paintbrushes touching the vehicle, students in the diesel hydraulics technology and automotive technology programs at Northern Maine Community College helped ready the mobile.
Students in the programs have worked on the mobile since February, providing the necessary tune up and repairing and replacing parts. An NMCC logo and wording will be placed on the vehicle, indicating that it is maintained by students and instructors at the college.
Wintergreen Arts Center also has gotten the community involved by launching a design contest to develop the two logos for Wintergreen on Wheels and TAMC “In Your Town” that will be displayed in the area directly above the vehicle’s cab. The entries must include the existing logos for both organizations. A $100 gift certificate to Morningstar Art and Framing will be awarded to the successful designers of each logo.
Over the coming weeks, a team of Wintergreen artists will complete the new artwork on the WOW/TAMC Mobile. A roll-out of Aroostook County’s newest piece of moving art will happen in late May or early June.