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CMCA’s ArtLab for All Ages to be held March 6

The Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) invites artists of all ages to take part in an ArtLab for All Ages workshop on Saturday, from 2 to 4 p.m. March 6 on Facebook Live. 

Led by ArtLab educator Alexis Iammarino, participants will create a series of colorful painted collages. Taking creative lead from from Biennial artists Meg Hahn and Jenny McGee Dougherty, draw inspiration from the most familiar of spaces and objects by exploring new ways to survey your surroundings.

In response to CDC recommendations, the workshop will stream live on facebook.com/cmcanow. For those tuning in locally, complimentary ArtKits are available for pick-up from March 3 to 5 from noon to 5 p.m. and March 6 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at CMCA. Participants are encouraged to explore the galleries via virtual tour at cmcanow.org/virtual-tours in advance of the workshop. For more information, email Alexis Iammarino at aiammarino@cmcanow.org.

How to plan for business growth during slow e-commerce times



In this issue of Commercial Currents, we’re sharing a guest piece by Anca Gooje, an e-commerce web developer based in Scarborough, Maine, who helps businesses sell easier online. Whether your business sells a product or service, Anca offers some simple ways you can use this time to increase your brand visibility and grow your audience online.Anca Gooje

By Anca Gooje

Now that the busy holiday season is over and you have filed your sales tax, it is time to take some time to focus on long-term growth for your business. How should you do that?

The beginning of the year is the ideal time for taking a deep breath and setting goals and intentions—but often there is a gap between these large goals and actually taking the action to make them happen. Consistent, meaningful steps need to be taken to move in the right direction. As business owners, we often find it easier to work IN the business (doing client work and creating products which generate immediate results) rather than working ON the business (strategy, implementing systems, and marketing which contribute to long-term growth).

Here are four simple ways to increase your brand visibility and grow your audience online:

1. Create an online marketing strategy

A marketing strategy will help you map out the steps you need to take in order to reach your marketing goals. Your approach will vary depending on what stage of the customer journey you are focusing on. You should start leveraging your organic reach as much as possible, and you can further expand your reach with some ads on Facebook for a very targeted approach. Once your marketing strategy is clear, create a content calendar that includes how many times per week you will post, on what platforms, and what type of content you will use. A monthly content calendar can be repeated with similar themes and different content.

2. Batch create posts or videos and captions

Using your content calendar, prepare your posts in batches to save time and increase consistency. Take several photos that can be used for different purposes (or use your product/brand photos), create graphics, write relevant captions, gather a hashtag list to bring your content in front of new audiences on Instagram.

3. Schedule social media posts

Once you have prepared your content, take some time to schedule your posts a month or more at a time. This will ensure you have a consistent presence on social media, and you will save a lot of time and the mind space needed to remember that you have to post something. You can even schedule stories in advance—and the best part is that it is free to do so. You can still login to Instagram or Facebook once in a while to respond to comments, interact with some of your ideal clients, and so on, but it is a huge relief when your posts are actually lined up and ready to be posted automatically at the perfect time.

4. Analyze the results and tweak for best results

After the first month, go back and check your Analytics for Instagram and Facebook. See what type of posts had the most engagements, resulted in more followers or messages and more. Keep in mind that you need to have a varied approach to your outreach. You should not just aim for getting the maximum number of likes, but try to generate reactions, comments, actions taken in response to your post.

Anca Gooje is an e-commerce web developer who works with established women entrepreneurs to help them sell easier online by creating effective e-commerce websites that look and work great. Her signature process combines front end web development, digital marketing, and soft skills that allow her to capture the essence of a business’s brand and transform it into a high-quality user experience. Learn more at www.ancagooje.com.

MCA Essay Series: What Maine Craft Means to Me

Emmanuel Sogunle

By Emmanuel Sogunle

I didn’t really notice that my world was filled with craft until recently. Thanks to the Lunder Institute for American Art, I was able to work on a project called the Makers Map. The Makers Map is an interactive map that identifies and locates makers and craftspeople to provide an online network through which both visiting and local artists can find Maine-based material experts, builders and workshops that could present useful in the production and development of artistic projects.

Working on this project enhanced my views of the world. From the ordinary wooden desk in my dorm to the clay mug in my cabinet to the small glass-blown object I bought when I was abroad, craft is everywhere. But not only is it prevalent, the art of craft is also beautiful in how it fills the world. Thinking about this allowed me to reflect more on the role of craft in my life.

I was born in Nigeria, and looking back, I was surrounded by many talented craftspeople. My aunt was a seamstress, and she was especially gifted in making Aso Oke. Aso Oke, which translates to “cloth from the top,” is a handwoven fabric that represents status in Yoruba culture. It does so because of the intricacies woven into the cloth. Due to the complex floral motifs and geometric shapes embedded in the design, Aso Oke has been popularized in Nigeria and is flexible in its use. It is commonly used for traditional wedding attire but can also be made into hats, bags or shoes. Through generations, the techniques used in making Aso Oke have been passed down. Stemming from the desire of women to clothe their families, Aso Oke has been able to cultivate the perfect blend of creative craft and domestic needs.

I find it most fascinating that craft is not always taught through formal structures but through knowledge and experience passed down through generations. Craft is historic in nature, but that history can also be easy to ignore.

Recently I stumbled onto a post by the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive (@blackcraftspeopleda), and they shared a post about the enslaved craftspeople who built the White House and the U.S. Capitol. In creating these American monuments, enslaved and free Black craftsmen were key players in their constructions. Black carpenters, blacksmiths, shoemakers, tailors, painters and many more helped build the America we live in today but are rarely recognized.

These craftsmen most likely weren’t taught craft in a conventional setting but still learned to create a life for themselves, and not only for themselves. Through apprenticeships, they were also able to pass down their material knowledge to generations after them. When I think of craft, I think of not only what it meant to the maker but to all the craftspeople before and after them. Craft benefits so many people, myself included, and makes me so grateful of the talents that came before me in making objects, places and building that enhance our lives.

Emmanuel Sogunle is from Denver, Colorado. He is a senior majoring in economics and education at Colby College in Waterville. He is the president of the Colby African Society and acts as the parliamentarian of the Student Government Association. He has been working with the Lunder Institute for American Art for over a year and is assisting the Lunder Institute Director of Artist Programs Daisy Desrosiers in the creation, development and digital support of the Maine Makers’ Map, an interactive tool to facilitate networking between visiting artists and highly skilled craftspeople in Maine.

Courthouse Gallery Fine Art shows ‘New Beginnings’


Philip Frey, “Interlude.”

Ellsworth Courthouse Gallery Fine Art presents “New Beginnings,” a mid-winter online show highlighting new work by 12 artists. The show is a precursor to the gallery’s upcoming summer exhibitions.

A range of media is highlighted, including collage on canvas, digital montage, oil on canvas, sculptures from stainless steel or reclaimed wood and found objects, and cyanotype—a historic 19th-century photographic process where watercolor canvas is coated with a light-sensitive emulsion (layered with plants in this case) and exposed to the sun for 12 hours or more.

Courthouse Gallery is at 6 Court St., Ellsworth. Winter hours are by chance or appointment. For more information, call 667-6611, or visit www.courthousegallery.com.

New issue of MMPA Antidote now available online

Johanna Moore, “Billy Shore.”

In response to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and local closings, the Maine Museum of Photographic Arts in Portland began creating the online series MMPA Antidote, which includes photographic artwork, audio interviews, and artist statements and reflections from Maine artists, aimed to serve as inspiration during times of isolation.

Published bi-weekly, Antidote features contemporary photographers and interviews with industry experts.

The most recent issue features pinhole photography by Johanna Moore.

Visit www.mainemuseumofphotographicarts.org to view the most recent issue.

Investigate the links, share the images, and send some of your own to contact.mmpa@gmail.com.

Wrapping Up 2020: A word from Craig Olson of the Island Institute

A Year.

I’ll leave it at that. It’s been “A Year.” You can read whatever you want into it. 

Claire Donnelly and I recently sat down to wrap up our current Commercial Currents podcast series, Business in Uncertain Times. It’s really a review of our impressions of 2020 for businesses in Maine, successes and failures, and the lessons we’ve learned moving forward.

 

At the beginning of what we are now calling a marathon, we had no idea how things were going to shake out when the economy began to shut down, especially when we began to realize that it was going to be more than two to three weeks. What struck us most about this year was the word we keep repeating, resiliency — not in a climate sense, which you hear from us a lot at the Island Institute, but in a “bouncing back from the brink” sense.

Here is what we saw: business owners quickly shifted their businesses in order to deliver products and services in new ways. Curbside delivery became a big thing, as did home delivery. In-person interaction with clients quickly shifted to Zoom and other online meeting platforms, and people fell into the routine pretty quickly. Business owners looked at parts of their business and made hard choices that allowed them to stay in business, although often on a limited basis.

Something we were pushing business owners on constantly prior to the pandemic was the need for keeping good records. Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) funding and other grant programs shined a bright spotlight on that need and clean business records made applications much easier. Many of those with somewhat blurry financials have now sharpened things up considerably. Hand-in-hand with good business records, we always advise business owners to have their business set up as a separate legal entity. Applying for grants and loans at the state and federal levels was a big wakeup call for many that they needed to separate personal from business. We subsequently made it a focus of webinars and our Business Resilience Grant (BRG) funding, helping business owners get information on how their entity should be established and helping to pay for the support to do it.  If the pandemic results in you losing your business, you shouldn’t be worried about creditors coming after your home or retirement funds. 

The one thing that bothered us both were the businesses who came to us for grant funding that we couldn’t help. Whether they were out of our funding jurisdiction, or if their business wasn’t shifting enough to be viable during the pandemic, it simply broke our hearts to have to say “no.”

But there is a light in all of this. What we have clung to through the last nine months is the amazing positive attitude we have found in the businesses we work with. Most are looking at the glass as half full, using adversity as an opportunity to learn, and making well considered decisions about their businesses. 

Head over to the podcast link for a bit more depth on our annual review, which podcasts we enjoyed the most, and our other thoughts about the past year and the businesses we have the honor to work with along Maine’s coast. Oh, and there’s a bonus at the end of the episode: we play a rousing round of “overrated/underrated,” featuring our conflicting opinions about what it means to live on an island in Maine!

From the whole Small Business Team at the Island Institute — Claire Donnelly, Lisa Mossel Vietze, Lisa Millette and myself — we wish you and yours all the best for a vibrant 2021.

Craig Olson is senior community development officer at the Island Institute

Artemis Gallery holiday show

Artemis Gallery was open Nov. 27 and 28 for a holiday show. A portion of sales was donated to the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

“While the physical gallery is closed for the colder months, all artwork can still be viewed online at artemisgalleryme.com

For more information call 207-276-3001, or email info@artemisgalleryme.com.

Three exhibits are on view at Caldbeck Gallery

“June Rain,” by Nancy Wissemann-Widrig

Through Oct. 10, in an exhibit titled “A Place on the Water: Paintings from Maine 1968-1975,” the Caldbeck Gallery celebrates the early Maine paintings of Nancy Wissemann-Widrig.

Also on exhibit at the gallery is “Do Not Fear,” a body of work of small paintings in oil on panel by Janice Kasper.

“Weskeag March: Low Winter Tide I,” by David Dewey.

The “Evolving Group Show” features, at this time, work by artists Alan Bray, David Dewey, Marsha Donahue, Jeff Epstein, New York, Nancy Glassman, Frederic Kellogg, Jeanne Goodman, K. Min, Barbara Sullivan and Elizabeth Osborne.

Early in the summer of 1968, Wissemann-Widrig moved into the Cushing cottage depicted in the 15 paintings in this show.  She and her husband, the painter John Wissemann, soon spent every summer there, painting and, along with their three children, submersing themselves in the community along the St. George River. The artist found a delight in painting the old-world charm of the cottage’s well-loved rooms, which were occupied by rocking chairs, farm tables, original plumbing and the collection of memorabilia left there by several generations of the families that preceded them. It was the late 1960s. The artist found solace in the cottage. The release from the nation’s political upheaval is captured in the quiet, familiar homeyness of these paintings.

In Maine, Wissemann-Widrig’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Farnsworth Art Museum and in the Portland Museum of Art, while in New York, galleries included Tibor de Nagy Gallery and the Tatischeff Gallery. She has shown with the Caldbeck since 1985 and, with her husband, still summers in the cottage, where her work continues to evolve with the times.

“Do Not Fear: Coyote,” by Janice Kasper

Janice Kasper’s solo show is about wildlife, a topic that has been her passion from the beginning. She explains that the paintings in this exhibit are “a series of portraits of animals that people tend to fear or dislike. Although some may pose a danger to humans, we need to understand the importance of their essential role in the cycles of life on our shared planet.”

Various fur-bearing predators, which throughout history have mostly been painted in brutal hunting scenes, are carefully rendered, as if portraying the faces of loved ones. Insects and snakes and leeches are beautifully painted as if they were treasures, which to the artist, they are.

Kasper first showed with the gallery in 1985. Numerous solo shows followed, and her work is in the collections of the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Portland Museum of Art, the University of Maine at Presque Isle and the University of Connecticut Archives.

Caldbeck Gallery is at 12 Elm St., Rockland. Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and by appointment. For more information, email caldbeck@midcoast.com, go to www.caldbeck.com, or call 207-594-5935.

MCA Essay Series: ‘What Maine Craft Means to Me’ by John Baldacci

John E. Baldacci

Artists tell us who we are as a people. They reflect our spirit and define our soul. Maine is very unique, we are not like anywhere else. As governor, I identified and supported our creative economy, which linked this talent to our economic engine. Maine has world-renowned writers, photographers, painters, poets, builders, basket makers and many, many more. We have a storied history, amazing present-day craft artists and an unfolding future of people coming to Maine to create.

Personally, we try to seek out and support our Maine artists. We celebrate holidays, anniversaries, birthdays and sometimes simply support what inspires us.

Our family holiday card comes to mind. The holidays have always been a time for us to share a family photo, taken by professional Maine photographers, to connect with family and friends. It was a way to follow us — especially Jack, as he grew up throughout the years.

In our Blaine House years, in addition to the annual photo, we added original holiday commemoratives made by Mainers to celebrate the season. These included many different designs, creations, artwork and unique gifts. We showcased Maine artists and craftsmen at our two Inaugurals, many trade missions, meetings, retreats and Maine Day at The Big E Agricultural Fair.

I encourage everyone to shop locally. Invest in Maine artists and craftsmen.

Governor John E. Baldacci served two terms as the governor of the State of Maine from 2003 to 2011. Prior public service included serving as U.S. Representative for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District from 1995-2003. Governor Baldacci joined Pierce Atwood in 2012, following an appointment as the Director of the Department of Defense’s Military Health Care Reform Initiative, working for the former Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Clifford L. Stanley, where he was tasked with a full-scale review and evaluation of military health care and wellness.

What Maine Craft Means to Me Essay Series invites you to explore the many intersections and layers of craft, people and time in Maine through the words of those with deep connections to our state and our field. Each week, a new essay will be shared.

MCA Essay Series: ‘What Maine Craft Means to Me’ by Theresa Secord

I weave ash and sweetgrass baskets in the traditional Penobscot tribal style. I admire the resilience of my ancestor basket makers, especially my great-grandmother, who actively practiced economic self-sufficiency as an Indigenous woman entrepreneur.

I was always very interested in basketry and my native culture, especially when I visited the Indian Island home of my grandparents while growing up in southern Maine. In the history books of my 1960s-1970s school days, I was dismayed to rarely find mention of my tribe and the remarkable basketry that I would see my relatives producing and selling on Indian Island. It was confusing and non-quantifiable.

After earning an MS in geology, I became the staff geologist for my tribe, the Penobscot Nation, soon after the 1980 Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement when the tribe regained a significant land base. There on Indian Island, I worked with the great, late basket maker and Penobscot speaker Madeline Tomer Shay for five years. I came into my own as an artist in 1988.

Ours is a community art form, in that the mentoring and the economy surrounding the traditional materials access takes place within the Wabanaki community. In my advocacy work at the head of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (1993-2014), I helped organize mentor basketmakers who then helped bring forward a new generation of basketmakers in the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Maliseet and Micmac Tribes.

A great moment for our art form happened last year, when the Wiwenikan, the beauty we carry, exhibition opened at Colby Art Museum where I serve on the Museum’s Board of Governors. This was the first standalone Wabanaki art exhibition in an art museum ever. Previously, exhibitions with baskets had been installed in ethnographic museums and/or a few artists were included in art museum exhibitions.

I have been recognized a number of times for my advocacy and for my own art with awards. The MCA honoring with the Maine Craft Artist award, the Maine Arts Fellowship and the Community Spirit Award (from First Peoples Fund) were especially meaningful, having been bestowed by my peers and my community.

Interestingly, for my entire career as an advocate and leader at MIBA, we worked hard to shift the terminology from the word “craft” to the word “art,” because previously, both basketry and native art suffered from stigmas and stereotypes long associated with the term “craft.”

My basketry and my advocacy work in craft totally changed my career trajectory. I left my full-time job as a geologist in 1998 to work as an artist and become the full-time director of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance.

Recently I’ve been teaching my son Caleb Hoffman (age 28) to weave again. We were mentioned in the arts and leisure section of the New York Times this summer, in a piece related to native artists in pandemic time. At age 62, the pandemic has caused me to rethink my priorities. Both he and I are working to ensure he becomes proficient in all aspects of the craft. I have a number of antique wooden forms and tools that he will inherit to carry on the family art form.

I’m taking Passamaquoddy language classes again (Zoom lessons twice weekly) and looking forward to an upcoming special segment on basketry terminology. Many of the basket makers who helped found the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance spoke their language and used it in basketry workshops, public events, and so on. We also hosted special classes with basketry and language. I am weaving new art pieces for upcoming online native art markets/juried craft shows This spring I was weaving “light” in the time of pandemic, making woven night lights for friends. The 99th Santa Fe Indian market is being held online, and I am presenting my work digitally throughout August, and in association, I’m also building a new e-commerce website.

The resilience of my ancestors to withstand pandemics and all kinds of adversity as they wove baskets and kept our culture alive inspires me. I’m also proud to be a member of a strong craft community in Maine.

What Maine Craft Means to Me Essay Series invites you to explore the many intersections and layers of craft, people and time in Maine through the words of those with deep connections to our state and our field. Each week, a new essay will be shared. This is the first essay in the series, authored by basketmaker Theresa Secord.