Officials with the Wintergreen Arts Center and the University of Maine at Presque Isle are collaborating to host their second annual blank canvas event—a fundraiser that will help them to establish a Cultural Center in the downtown area—and they’re pleased to announce that the event is growing. Established last year as the 10×10 Art Auction, the event returns this year as the 12×12 Art Auction with a greater number of canvases expected to go up for bid. The auction will be held Friday, May 3, from 6-9 p.m. at the Wintergreen Arts Center during the May 2013 First Friday Art Walk. Community members are encouraged to save the date for this special event.
As part of the 12×12 event, organizers are providing participating artists with blank 12-inch by 12-inch canvases to fill in any way they choose – “Any media goes.” Artists will have between late March and the end of April to complete their works, which will be put on display in the Barresi Financial Gallery at WGAC starting May 3. A silent auction and reception will be held that evening from 6-9 p.m. Each canvas will hold a reserve bid of $60. Bidding will end promptly at 8:30 p.m. and winning bids will be announced at 8:45 p.m. Artists should contact UMPI and Wintergreen no later than March 23 to learn more about getting involved.
Co-organizers Wendy Gilman-Zubrick, WGAC Executive Director, and Heather Sincavage, UMPI Assistant Professor of Fine Art and Reed Fine Art Gallery Director, said they are excited about the work artists will be producing based on these simple parameters.
“We can’t wait to see what artists are going to come up with this time around, and, in the case of returning artists, whether they’re going to build on the fine work they contributed last year or take a completely different route,” Gilman-Zubrick said. “We had such wonderful pieces during the 10×10 Art Auction last year and look forward to another successful event with more amazing art work and strong community participation and support.”
Organizers also are excited about how funds raised during this event will support Wintergreen and UMPI’s efforts to transform 149 State Street into the region’s first Cultural Campus. The two organizations are partnering on a $50,000 Maine Arts Commission Creative Communities = Economic Development grant [CCED] that will benefit students, the arts community, the downtown area, and the community at large. The grant funds will be used to develop the second and third floors of 149 State Street into an UMPI downtown art gallery and an emerging artists’ studio space, both overseen by UMPI. With Wintergreen located on the first floor of the building, this will create a new downtown cultural campus, with three floors of arts-based activities that are expected to have a significant impact on the community’s revitalization efforts. The cultural campus will create a location of excellence that attracts leaders to the local community, integrates the University into the downtown district, and becomes an avenue for student engagement and community development.
“This collaborative effort capitalizes on the momentum created by our respective organizations and is enhanced by our joint vision,” Sincavage said. “With this project garnering statewide attention through the CCED Grant award, Presque Isle is at the forefront of using the arts for community building in the state of Maine. We are positioned to define ourselves with quality programming reflective of who we are as a community, while also attracting leaders in their field to our region.”
While the second floor gallery will include room for climate controlled storage of artwork, the goal is to have a more expansive gallery space that will allow for larger art work to be displayed and larger group exhibitions to be held, and will serve as a real-world learning space for students. The downtown gallery will allow students to gain experience in the professional practices they’ll experience within the art field.
The building’s third floor will be converted into art studio space for local and emerging artists. This first-of-its-kind space for the region will provide participating artists with high quality studio space to rent and a built-in arts-centered community atmosphere in which to work. The floor will be divided into six to eight art studios with artists being encouraged to hold gatherings and classes/lessons in their spaces.
“We are getting so much closer to our Cultural Campus in Downtown Presque Isle, but we still have funds to raise in order to start construction,” Sincavage said. “We’re very excited to see how much closer the 12×12 gets us to our goal.”