WESTBROOK, Maine (August 5, 2016)— Westbrook and state officials gathered today for the unveiling of Art All Around, a ten-day, community-conceived and created public art installation in Westbrook’s Blue Note Park. Comprised of thousands of hand-crafted art pieces, the installation is the culmination of three months of citizen art-making by Westbrook residents, which re-launches Maine Center for Creativity’s signature project as a statewide community building initiative.
“I am thrilled to see the coming together of the many diverse groups in Westbrook to create the wonderful artistic display in our park, and I thank Maine Center for Creativity for making this possible,” said Mayor Colleen Hilton in her opening remarks. Hilton addressed Westbrook residents and artists, sponsors, city councilors, state legislators, and the contributing artists themselves.
Hand-crafted artifacts made by over 200 volunteer artists of all ages and artistic ability, including works from a number of rising and established local artists such as Jane Herbert, Sara Webber, and Michael Shaughnessy, make up the River-themed installation. Components range from simple painted plastic bottle fish and papier mache turtles to a “river” canopy woven of plastic bags to a complex of PVC river reeds.
“Westbrook is poised to become an art and culture center in Southern Maine,” commented Judy Trepal, Creative Director and Founding Partner of Ethos | VONT, the leading sponsor for this year’s Art All Around project. “As a creative business based in Westbrook, we’re excited that Maine Center for Creativity chose our city to launch such a promising, dynamic initiative.”
Art All Around was undertaken as a way to engage communities, bring visibility and foot traffic to Maine downtowns and spark economic development. City stakeholders point out that it also fills a vacuum with children where school arts programming have been cut in so many Maine communities.
“What’s great about this partnership is that there’s already a huge existing arts community in Westbrook and this project hits on all four points of the Main Street approach,” said Abigail Cioffi, Coordinator of the Downtown Westbrook Coalition. “There’s mutual excitement to generate this kind of activity here and to serve as a model.”
While many remember Art All Around as the design competition to paint the Sprague Energy tanks in South Portland, this year’s project is a pilot for a more sweeping initiative. Art All Around has become a catalyst for community engagement, artistic creation and economic activity in downtown Westbrook, sparking plans to bring the program to three more Maine communities in 2017 and continue to grow the program.
“This year’s partnership has yielded amazing work and an incredible piece of art,” commented Maine Center for Creativity Executive Director, Craig Collins. “It was important to MCC as I came on board to create programming that uses art and creativity to make a direct impact in Maine’s communities, statewide. Westbrook will serve as a wonderful model for the program in years to come and we’re thrilled by the interest we’re already receiving for 2017.”
“Art All Around is about re-imagining community interaction – when you look to revitalize a community, you do that by revitalizing the people,” commented Donna Dwyer, President & CEO of My Place Teen Center, one of the partnering organizations. “It’s not every day that our students have the chance to contribute on such a grand scale. As a kid, you get to bring beauty to your community and be a part of something much bigger than yourself.”
Art All Around was made possible with the participation of: sponsors Ethos | VONT, Frog & Turtle Gastro Pub, Portland Pie Co., Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution, Westbrook/Gorham Chamber of Commerce, and Broadreach Public Relations; partners CAFE, Inc., Congin School/PTO, Downtown Westbrook Coalition, Fiber Arts, My Place Teen Center, Que Sera Sera Recycled Art, University of Southern Maine, Walker Memorial Library, Westbrook Community Center/Westbrook LEARNS, Westbrook Historical Society, Westbrook Middle School, Woodfords Family Services and the City of Westbrook.
Art All Around will remain in Blue Note Park until Sunday August 14, 2016. Requests to become an Art All Around community in 2017 can be made by contacting Maine Center for Creativity.