BANGOR – A capacity crowd at the Bangor Opera House got to see where Maine Arts Commission money goes on Nov. 21 at the 20th Maine Artist Fellowship Showcase.
Attendees enjoyed presentations and performances by Maine Arts Commission Fellows Alison Chase of Brooksville, performing arts; Randy Regier of Portland, visual arts; Don Roy of Gorham, traditional arts; and Penelope Schwartz Robinson of Cape Elizabeth, literary arts. Each will receive a $13,000 award.
And worth every penny.
Also on the program were Traditional Arts Master Indhra Rajashekar of Scarborough, Traditional Arts Master and Penobscot Indian basket maker Theresa Secord, Waterville; Traditional Arts Masters Greg Boardman, Auburn; Normand Gagnon, Rumford; Cindy Larock, Lewiston; and David Surette, South Berwick.
Artist Regier, with a background in automobile painting, opened with his presentation detailing the creation of “ToyGantic,” a metal, 8-foot-long red and white ocean liner he fashioned mostly from found materials, including a piece of an old outboard motor.
Using slides, he showed his art process, including a narrative of the made-up history of the ocean liner and its adventures – sinking in Silly Pond in Rockland, for example, and being fished out a year later, transforming the piece into a rusted, paint-chipped hulk with patina evoking the corrosive aspects of the passage of time.
Regier’s narrative, filled with wry humor, kept the audience laughing with admiration for the breadth and depth of his imagination. He also will give a presentation as part of the Intermedia Visiting Artist Program 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 9, at 100 Lord Hall, University of Maine. To learn more about Regier and his work, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos.regierart/.
Robinson read from “Slippery Men,” her collection of essays and the winner of the Stonecoast Book Prize. The story involved a meeting with a Maine man who liked to walk around in the swamps of Florida. Her descriptions of what it was like to walk thigh-deep in the muck had listeners enthralled. As a reader, her voice is compelling and as a writer, her skill immediately catches the listeners up in the story.
Dancers Kent and Darling performed a dance choreographed by Alison Chase, founding artistic director of Pilobolus Dance Theater.
The curtain rose and the audience saw Kent, wearing pajamas, seemingly asleep on the stage. Darling, clad in a silky seafoam green dress with gorgeous draping, tiptoed toward Kent, stepped onto his chest and peered curiously into his face. From there, it was all artful steps, poses and motion, with Darling standing on Kent’s hip and shoulder, and lifts that had Kent swinging Darling around with abandon.
Theresa Secord was unable to attend, but a slide presentation showed that her work fuses the utilitarian aspects of a hand-woven container with artistic sensibility embodied in hues of hand-dyed strips and lovely textural surfaces. She founded the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance in the 1990s and is credited with helping preserve the art of basket-making of Maine’s Indians, the Penobscots, Micmacs, Maliseets and Passmaquoddy.
When fiddler Don Roy and arts masters Greg Boardman on fiddle, Normand Gagnon on accordion, David Surette on guitar and step-dancer Cindy Larock, along with her apprentice, 10-year-old Gabriel Jacques, appeared on stage, audience members began to tap their toes and clap their hands to the rollicking rhythm of French Canadian folk music.
The audience also enjoyed a charming and delightful scene with cast members singing “It’s Spring” from the upcoming Penobscot Theatre production of “A Year with Frog and Toad,” running Dec. 10-23. Those of all ages will want to put “Frog and Toad” on their list of must-do holiday outings.
It was the sort of evening no one wanted to end. The caliber of art presented was astounding and great fun to witness.