BANGOR, Maine — Artists will set up their easels at various sites throughout Bangor on Saturday in support of the ongoing restoration of the Orono Bog Boardwalk.
Paint Bangor Day, an annual event organized by the Bangor Art Society, is split into two parts. From 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., artists will paint scenes throughout the Bangor area; then at 5:30 p.m., a silent and live auction of the artwork will be held at Husson University’s Gracie Theater.
At least 25 percent of the funds raised at the auction will go to the Orono Bog Boardwalk restoration project, an effort to replace the deteriorating mile-long boardwalk that starts in Bangor and snakes out into the Orono Bog. Since it opened in 2003, the boardwalk has been visited by nearly 300,000 people.
“We want to help them out by the sale of beautiful paintings,” said Michael Vermette, vice president of the Bangor Art Society.
Artists of all ages are invited to participate. Artists should arrive outside the Gracie Theater between 6 and 10 a.m. on Saturday for their canvases to be stamped. Then they are free to find a spot in the greater Bangor area to complete their painting outdoors.
By 3 p.m., artists must bring their finished artwork back to the theater, where they’ll be juried and placed in either the silent auction, which will begin at 5:30 p.m., or the live auction, which will begin around 7 p.m., emceed by local meteorologist Steve McKay.
About 15 restaurants from Bangor, Orono and Old Town will be providing food platters at the auction, which is free and open to the public.
“There are so many wonderful people, artists and volunteers, who really believe in this whole process,” said Kay Carter of Hampden, a member of the Bangor Art Society who has been heavily involved in the organization of this particular event because of her history volunteering for the boardwalk.
Of the remaining funds raised at the auction, 25 percent will go to the Bangor Art Society’s future programs and 50 percent will go to the artists, who may elect to donate some or all to the boardwalk project.
Each year, the art society chooses a different local cause to fundraise for, Vermette said. For example, last year, funds raised from Bangor Art Day went to a campaign to replace the Bangor Public Library roof.
In past years, artists participating in the event have stuck to the downtown area, but this year, the art society is encouraging artists to spread out. While some artists will stick to Bangor’s city scene, others will embrace a more natural theme in light of this year’s cause.
“We want to keep it open to naturalists who are interested in painting the landscape,” said Vermette, who plans to paint below a cliff known as Lover’s Leap on Kenduskeag Stream.
Vermette teaches art at Indian Island School and is the coordinator of Plein Air Connection, a group of local painters who get together multiple times a week to paint outdoors, a practice known as “plein air.”
Because Vermette and Carter will be busy coordinating the event Saturday, they plan to complete their paintings early on Friday.
Carter will carry her canvas to the boardwalk, where she plans to paint a scene that combines the carnivorous pitcher plants of the peat bog and the structure of the boardwalk.
“The boardwalk itself isn’t about necessarily just a boardwalk,” Carter said. “It’s really about access to the plants and flora and fauna that are out there, and so my thinking was I really wanted to develop a composition that celebrated what’s out there and connect it to the boardwalk. So that’s the plan. Who knows how well it’s going to come out.”
The Orono Bog Boardwalk, typically open May 1 through late November, is accessed by the 680-acre Rolland F. Perry City Forest (also known as the Bangor City Forest) Tripp Drive entrance.
This year, the boardwalk opened late due to Phase I of the reconstruction project — the replacement of the first 105 boardwalk sections with composite decking, cladded aluminum siding and stainless steel footings. Phase I cost about $223,000.
The boardwalk management team is now in Phase II of a campaign to raise approximately
$298,000 to replace sections 106 to 250, plus two interpretative stations and three wheelchair turn-outs.
“Hopefully we’ll start replacing more sections by the end of the year,” said Orono Bog Boardwalk Director Jim Bird.
For information about the Bangor Art Society, visit bangorartsociety.com; the Orono Bog Boardwalk, oronobogwalk.org.