April 24, 2018
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KahBang Arts kicks off summer series with a mixer

By Danielle Walczak, Special to the BDN

BANGOR, Maine — This Saturday, KahBang Arts will kick off its second gallery show from its new location at 89 Central St. in Bangor 7-9 p.m. Saturday, June 7. The mixer event, Malice + Whimsy, will feature independent artist and illustrator Wylie Beckert.

KBA, a nonprofit sister group of KahBang Music, Arts and Film Festival, began in 2011 with the mission of encouraging the discovery, development and support of independent artists.

In a year, KBA will not only control the art and film but the music portion of the festival under its nonprofit name.

“We were never in it to make money anyway,” Megan Shorette, KahBang Art’s executive director, said. “We want KahBang to just keep getting better, and we were never in it for anything else.”

KBA sponsors pop-up events throughout Bangor, converting vacant spaces into art galleries, music venues and film screenings. The content of these events is what Shorette believes keeps their demographic around ages 16 to 45.

“They want the type of art they find to be art recognized,” said Shorette, who cites tattoos and street art as examples of art that interests their demographic.

“I think a lot of young people get flack for being disinterested and not involved,” Shorette said. “You just need to find what’s interesting to them.”

Formerly a pawn shop, which sat vacant for five years, the Central Street gallery opened in May after a renovation funded by the City of Bangor.

Shorette thinks the location gives people a place to associate KBA.

“We have more of an identity,” Shorette said. “People can stop in and put a face to the answers they’re getting from us on Facebook.”

However, social media is a tool Shorette and the 10 other KahBang organizers have been using to gain a consistent fan base throughout the six years since its start in 2011. Shorette said she receives about 100 emails a month from artists looking for a venue for their work.

Although KBA focuses on Maine-based artists, social media helped them connect to artists in Portugal and California which the gallery will have shows of in the next year.

Saturday’s gallery will feature Maine-based artist Wylie Beckert, who works in digital and traditional mediums incorporating pencil linework, oils and transparent layers of digital color into her paintings.

“The simultaneously grim and playful images I create are distinguished by vivid characters and an emphasis on narrative, offering a window into a world that is both sinister and inviting,” Beckert said in her artist’s statement for the show. “My work has most recently found itself in books, card games, magazines and animation, but is at home anywhere there is a story to be told.”

KBA celebrates their exhibitions by opening with mixer events the first Saturday of each month, hosting 12 artists a year, each lasting three weeks.

This summer KBA will host a long list of artists, musicians and films. Their Stripped-Down Sessions series will feature an acoustic performance by The 220’s June 26.

KBA will host the opening party for its festival Aug. 7. A time to celebrate the nonprofit serving young people’s interests in Bangor.

“I don’t know if I’d be able to stay here if it wasn’t for KahBang,” said Shorette, who thinks Bangor was ready for a festival like KahBang. “I think we were looking for something to make Bangor our own.”

Shorette encourages young people to “try new things” in Bangor. “You’ll be successful, and this town will support you,” she said.

For event information, visit kahbangarts.org.

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