Captive Elements Art House in Lewiston is many things:
A place where artists gather weekly for open art sessions.
A curator to six satellite venues around Lewiston-Auburn that showcase artwork, including some unlikely locations.
A studio where classes are taught to aspiring artists.
And it’s the heart of a shared dream for art in L-A.
It all began when Lewiston brothers Kerry and Jason Landry decided to establish a close-knit network where artists could learn from one another. A year ago they started Captive Elements and have since expanded, boasting 12 house artists, the gallery, six showcase venues and shows that have featured two dozen area artists.
The Landrys were joined by Ray Fanin of Auburn shortly after they began, when he contacted Kerry Landry after seeing a story in the Sun Journal. The three men currently own the art house together.
Landry sees the art community in L-A as vast, though most artists are not currently connected to one another. That is something he hopes Creative Elements will help change.
Camaraderie and support is essential to the creative experience for these artists, he said.
“As an artist, you become inspired by surrounding yourself with other artists,” said house artist Grayling Cunningham of Lewiston.
Prior to joining the art house, Cunningham said he’d never tried to paint with anything other than a brush. Exposing himself to other artists and their methods has encouraged him to branch out and try new techniques.
Some artists approach their work with less structure, painting or creating when the mood strikes, like Fanin, who works on his paintings at home.
“Most of us are self-taught and that is one of the things we try to encourage,” said Fanin. “Even though I don’t actually paint here, hanging out and seeing other people’s artwork inspires me and there are things that I’ve tried that are different.”

New perspective
Several area businesses have willingly become showcase venues for Captive Element art, reflecting one of the gallery’s missions to expose people to art and promoting artists.
Wanting to “transcend the idea that art should only be in certain locations,” Landry said, Roopers was one of the perfect spots to do that. So many people frequent the store, it increases the likelihood that people who normally wouldn’t go to an art viewing will have a chance to see local artists’ work.
“It’s been very well received. People really enjoy it,” said Joanne Vanier, assistant manager of Roopers in Auburn.
In all of the locations, the art is a focal point of sorts and typically displayed in areas where people can spend time appreciating the work without feeling rushed.
There is no cost to the businesses, and the only requirement is that Captive Elements and the artist’s name are posted with each painting. The exhibits are changed on a monthly basis, giving a fresh look at all locations.
“If 20 more businesses wanted art up, we’d want to do it and have art anywhere and everywhere that people could view it,” said Landry.

Gather, create and enjoy
Every Wednesday evening artists gather at the art house, located at 25 Landry Road, to work on their art, talk and enjoy the creative atmosphere. The sessions start at 7 p.m. and end between 9:30 p.m and 11 p.m. depending on how many artists are there.
“Since most of us work during the day, this is our down time, our time to get together and paint,” said Landry.
A hairstylist at the showcase venue Orbitz, Cunningham said he spends four to six hours every Wednesday at the art house, painting.
“It reminds me of art class, and I always enjoyed art class thoroughly in high school,” he said. “I was fortunate to have an art teacher who taught oil painting, which is a real expensive thing for a high school to do.”
Jeanelle Demers of Auburn is another of the house artists who said she “really likes the synergy that happens between artists.” She also likes that they can all watch each other’s “body of work grow.”
“Everybody is kind of just feeding off the energy of everyone in the room,” said Landry. “The idea is to enjoy ourselves.”
Fanin, who’s been actively creating art through painting and photography — his oldest work from 1959 hangs on a wall at the gallery, said he had never before been part of an art group.
“If it wasn’t for this, there is no way that we would have all known each other,” he said.
Part of the group dynamic, Fanin said, is bringing your work into the gallery and having other artists weigh in on what works and what doesn’t. Honesty and constructive criticism help any artist grow and hone their skills.
New and seasoned artists are welcome, and Landry said they encourage anyone who is interested in showing their work and becoming part of Captive Elements to contact them.

Art and two cities
The art house tries to hold its public shows, which often include music from local musicians, on the second Saturday of each month at locations around Lewiston-Auburn, though Landry said that schedule isn’t set in stone.
A recent show at Fishbones restaurant earlier this month celebrated the one-year anniversary of the art house. The show, also a fundraiser for the University of Southern Maine’s Leadership Program, was quite successful, drawing in more than 200 people.
Landry said he’d like to see a mix of history and the present in Lewiston-Auburn, creating something unique and memorable to all who see it. Being part of moving forward and having a positive influence on the community is something Landry also feels passionate about.
“We could shoot for wealth or we could shoot for greater things, but creation is one of the strongest things that anyone can come up with in their life,” Landry said
One of the future goals for Creative Elements for Landry personally is to see it grow into an art center for painting, dance, photography, music and arts in general. And, he said, it would be great for such a center to make its home in one of the landmark buildings in Lewiston-Auburn.
In the short term, Landry said, they are just “happy to exist and provide more opportunity for art to be seen throughout L-A, while celebrating individual talents.”
• Fishbones restaurant, Canal Street, Lewiston
• Holly’s Own Deli, Center Street, Auburn
• Roopers, Minot Avenue, Auburn
• A Simple Earth Cafe, Mr. Paperback, Promenade Mall, Lewiston
• Orbitz Hair Salon, Ash Street, Lewiston
• Just Taxes, Pleasant Street, Lewiston
What: Captive Elements art show
Where: Holly’s Own Deli, 84 Court St., Auburn
When: Sunday, April 19, 5 to 8 p.m.
Featured artists:
*show in conjunction with the University of Southern Maine Leadership program fundraiser.

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