Officials with the Wintergreen Arts Center and the University of Maine at Presque Isle are making final preparations for their second annual blank canvas event, the 12×12 Art Auction, which will feature original works by more than 50 artists from throughout Aroostook County, the nation, and Canada. 12×12—a fundraiser that will help officials to establish a Cultural Center in the downtown area—will be held Friday, May 3, from 6-9 p.m. at the Wintergreen Arts Center during the May 2013 First Friday Art Walk. The community is invited to attend this free event. Light refreshments will be served.
As with the 10×10 art auction last year, organizers for the expanded 12×12 auction have provided participating artists with blank 12-inch by 12-inch canvases to fill in any way they choose – “Any media goes.” Artists 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. Cash, check and credit cards will be accepted.
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 are producing based on these simple parameters.
“We are incredibly pleased to have so many fine artists returning this year to take part in 12×12 and to welcome several new artists to this show. We are delighted by some of the pieces we’ve seen already,” Gilman-Zubrick said. “If their work is any indication, the 12×12 art auction is going to be even bigger and better than last year!”
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.
“With the statewide attention this project is receiving through the CCED Grant award, we’re pleased to see Presque Isle at the forefront of leveraging The Arts for community building in the State of Maine,” Sincavage said. “This project is allowing us to define ourselves with quality programming reflective of who we are as a community, while also attracting leaders in their field to our region. We are proud of our community, and having a keystone building dedicated to The Arts allows our artists a higher profile throughout the state.”
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 hoping to begin the first phase of construction for our Cultural Campus in Downtown Presque Isle this summer,” Sincavage said. “It’s pretty exciting to see a collective dream begin to become a reality, and to see how 12×12 will be able to help it happen.”