BANGOR, Maine — Icy sidewalks are thawing just in time for the first Downtown Bangor Artwalk of the season. More than 50 artists will showcase their sculptures, paintings, drawings and music 5-9 p.m. Friday, March 18, at shops and studios throughout downtown.
New businesses Blue Heron and Maine Jewelry and Art will participate in the event, along with The Handmade Life, which will celebrate their grand opening the same evening.
“[Owners of] Maine Jewelry and Art said they opened in downtown because they wanted to take part in the art walk, which is exciting and heartwarming to us,” said Liz Grandmaison, chairwoman of Downtown Bangor Arts Collaborative, which organizes the event. “It’s not just an entertainment event, it’s also of economic benefit [to shops in downtown].”
DBAC organized the first Downtown Bangor Artwalk in March 2008. The event was held in one building and attracted 300-400 people. The collaborative usually schedules four art walks a year and takes a break during the winter. But this year, it plans to hold five art walks. The “bonus art walk” on Oct. 28 will feature spooky Halloween-themed artwork.
“The last art walk [in November 2010] was probably our largest one ever,” said Grandmaison. “Since it’s not ticketed, it’s hard to say, but I know the downtown was just packed. Probably in excess of 600 or 700 people went to that one, and I might be underestimating that.”
The walk is self-guided, and maps can be picked up at businesses throughout downtown Bangor or downloaded at the Downtown Bangor Arts Collaborative website, www.downtownartscollaborative.org.
Several downtown shops and about 40 artist studios will be open on Friday. Walkers may talk with the artists in addition to viewing — and perhaps purchasing — artwork in a variety of mediums.
Wood and metal sculptures by Randy Colbath and paintings by Linda Packard will be shown at WBRC Architects-Engineers at 44 Central St. And not far away, the Central Street Studios artists invite people to experience contemporary painting, fiber arts and fine art photography at 9 Central St. Bangor Art Society artists will be showing their works in photography, painting, glass mosaic, pastels and mixed media at American Home Bank at 21 Main St.
Families can learn about woodcarving at the Maine Discovery Museum from artists Abram and Torianne Barrett of Soul of Wood. The Barretts are the first two artists in what is expected to be a series of artist residencies at the Maine Discovery Museum.
Across the street, Maine Street Music Studios will offer live poetry and prose readings and music. Studio proprietor and audio engineer Andrew Clifford will record the event live at the studio, and Transient Vanity Press plans to release the recording as an audio edition of their magazine, The Accompanist.
“I’d like to see more music, and I know we have some dance people in the community,” Grandmaison said. “I’m looking at actively pursuing and broadening the program.”
Along with the University of Maine Museum of Art’s rotating exhibitions of accomplished artists and themed exhibits from the museum collection, the museum will be host to local printmaker Kris Sader and pastel painter Marcie Bishop and displays they constructed this year for the art walk.
The opening reception of “Art in the Heart,” an exhibit of the artwork of art educators, will be held at the Bangor Public Library at 145 Harlow St. Not far away, youth artists will display their artwork and engage in activities at Eastern Maine Development Corp. at 40 Harlow St.
Though the spring art walk is usually smaller in terms of artists participating than ones held later in the summer, Grandmaison suspects that people are itching to get out of the house and walk the streets of Bangor after a long, snowy winter.
“[DBAC] board member Jodi Clayton was recently at the New England Products Trade Show, and she actually heard people talking about Bangor as a place where cultural stuff was happening and talking about the art walk,” said Grandmaison. “It just gave the general vibe of increased awareness of people all over the state that new and exciting stuff was going on in Bangor.”
Artwalk maps listing participating venues and features artists can be found at the University of Maine Museum of Art, Metropolitan Soul, Blue Heron, the Maine Discovery Museum and One Lupine Fiber Arts. Downloadable versions of the map and information can be found at www.downtownartscollaborative.org and on DBAC’s Facebook page.