With help from Warhol, new grants available for Maine artists

Posted Aug. 29, 2014, at 6 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — On Friday, Portland’s nonprofit arts venue SPACE Gallery announced it will grant Maine artists up to $5,000 to create innovative public projects under The Kindling Fund.

Part of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts’ regional regranting program, the new, statewide initiative opens the door for fresh ideas from artists. It will award a total of $50,000 in grants to eligible visual artists this year.

“This is a great opportunity for us to be proud about the artists who work in Maine, and we want Mainers to be proud of what’s happening in their community,” said SPACE Gallery executive director Nat May, who first heard about the national program three years ago.

Portland joins Chicago, Miami, Portland, Oregon, Kansas City, San Francisco and Houston as recipients in this olive branch to nontraditional art practices.

“There is plenty of opportunity for people to dream a bit,” said May. “It’s an aspirational grant opportunity for anyone who has said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to do da, da, da.’” He hopes people will propose “inventive projects that are bold and new.”

SPACE will create an independent jury to review applications, and the fund will support between 15 and 20 projects. Though administered through the Congress Street gallery, the grants are “not a mechanism for funding programming at SPACE,” May stressed, but a way to showcase artists “doing their own work independently, not at museums or schools.” The resulting collaborations won’t likely be touted in the New York Times or Artforum, but may nurture the creative ground from which exciting new work springs.

Ideally the money will launch “websites that deal with what’s happening in Maine, or a publication focusing on visual arts … it’s up to the artists to manifest ideas. The key is these are artist-organized projects,” not concepts dreamed up by well-endowed institutions or academia, said May.

With revenue for the arts drying up nationwide, art leaders applaud the initiative.

“This is tremendously exciting news for Maine,” said Jennifer Hutchins, executive director of Creative Portland. “It validates on a national level the visionary leadership of SPACE and the quality of our state’s arts community. More resources for artists is just where we want to be headed as a community.”

Applications will be online at www.kindlingfund.org in the next few weeks. The deadline for applying is Nov. 15.

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