Local artists flourish in our community

By Rich Livingston
Freelance Writer

It’s been some 13 years since Lewiston-Auburn was first designated as one of The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America (©1996, John Villani). Since then, the local arts scene has only grown to be lots more energetic and exciting, with more venues, opportunities and artists than there were a decade ago. Every imaginable medium is displayed in this community, everyday, including sculpture; wood carving; paintings in oil, watercolor, acrylic; drawings in pen and ink, pastels, charcoal; photography; fabric; furniture; mosaics; jewelry. When that book was first published, the only permanent exhibition spaces in the community were the Museum of Art at Bates and the Atrium Gallery at L-A College. The list now also includes L-A Arts’ Gallery 5, Arts and Ale at Gritty McDuff’s, Arts and Java at Willy Beans, Guthries, Androscoggin Bank, Central Maine Medical Center, St. Mary’s hospital, Holly’s Deli, Auburn City Hall, and Captive Elements Art House in Lewiston. Even with so many new venues, competition for space is fierce, with the number of artists practicing professionally in this community having grown even more quickly.
Captive Elements Art House (www.captiveelementsarthouse.com), 25 Landry Rd. in Lewiston, is a kind of cooperative effort that provides exhibit space for works in a variety of media and offers instruction and mentoring for newly professional artists. One of its members is Jeanelle Demers, from Auburn (www.jeanelledemers.blogspot.com). She is a 2008 graduate of the University of Vermont, where she majored in studio art and minored in art history.  Demers currently works at Willy Beans and Guthries.  She is also overseeing a plan to open an art center in South Portland and will be curating the winter exhibit at L/A Arts Gallery 5.
Her primary medium is acrylic paint.  Currently on display at Willy Beans is an exhibit of acrylic renditions of computer chips and circuit boards, and the artist strives to create something new from photographic technological imagery.  In addition to all of that, Jeanelle is in the process of paiting 200 custom portraits, each priced at $150, in order to pay off her college loans. She began, she said, “by painting my friends and family, but other people wanted one, attracted by my exhibits or the social networking I do, so now I’m trying to accommodate everyone.”


Dan Marquis (www.danmarquisphotography.com) is the proprietor of Marquis Signs in Lewiston, and although he has been interested in both the great outdoors of Maine and in photography in particular for “many years,” he has been exhibiting professionally for just the past “couple of years.” “I guess I spent six or eight years perfecting my work to the point where I was ready to show,” he says. His work includes both whimsical and emotional images of the natural world, and he says that people searching the Internet for images of the Maine coast, for example, are often pointed to his Website. “Taking pictures helps me see better. The things I photograph are always there, but we often overlook them. Photography helps me focus, and I hope that others can see what I see, as well.” Marquis has shown his work at Gallery 5 and St. Mary’s, and he will have an exhibit going up shortly at CMMC. He plans to show at the WCSH Sidewalk Art Festival in Portland this year, as well.    
Michael Ranucci (www.michaelranucci.com) is in some respects a more “traditional” artist. He refined his abilities by carefully copying the work of Old Masters such as Rembrandt and Raphael, and applies those techniques to his contemporary subject matter – landscapes (some of which would be very familiar to L-A residents), still life, portraits. He works in oil, acrylic, charcoal. Of his attitude toward his art, he has said “I look for compositions where I can represent how light reveals what we see.   Often, I see everyday objects made beautiful just in the way light washes over them.  I find this aesthetic interesting – sometimes subtle, sometimes not – a gift from nature, not affected by pop-culture or the innumerable images around us, simply based in the natural world.”  He shows throughout New York and New England, but the Atrium at L-A Arts must be considered his “home” venue.
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SIDEBAR

FineArtAmerica.com is a social network and e-commerce marketplace for photographers, visual artists, art galleries, and fine art collectors. Logging on from a local area computer will connect visitors to an extensive list of western Maine artists, venues and event.  Visitors can choose from over 200,000 pieces of original artwork www.fineartamerica.com
L-A Arts (782-7228; www.laarts.org) is the gateway to several important exhibit venues, including:
Gallery 5, 49 Lisbon St., Lewiston; www.laarts.org/visual/gallery-5.htm
Art & Ale at Gritty McDuff’s, corner of Main and Court Streets, Auburn; www.laarts.org/visual/art-ale.htm
Art & Java at Willy Beans, Bates Mill #6, Lincoln St., Lewiston; www.laarts.org/visual/art-ale.htm
…as well as Auburn City Hall.

Other consistent venues include:
Atrium at L-A College; www.usm.maine.edu/lac/art/
She Doesn’t Like Guthries, 115 Middle St., Lewiston; www.myspace.com/guthriesplace
Bates College Art Museum, www.bates.edu/museum.xml
Captive Elements Art House, 25 Landry Rd., Lewiston; 786-3606; www.captiveelementsarthouse.vpweb.com/

Local art venues

FineArtAmerica.com is a social network and e-commerce marketplace for photographers, visual artists, art galleries, and fine art collectors. Logging on from a local area computer will connect visitors to an extensive list of western Maine artists, venues and event. Visitors can choose from over 200,000 pieces of original artwork www.fineartamerica.com
L-A Arts (782-7228; www.laarts.org) is the gateway to several important exhibit venues, including:
Gallery 5, 49 Lisbon St., Lewiston; www.laarts.org/visual/gallery-5.htm
Art & Ale at Gritty McDuff’s, corner of Main and Court Streets, Auburn; www.laarts.org/visual/art-ale.htm
Art & Java at Willy Beans, Bates Mill #6, Lincoln St., Lewiston; www.laarts.org/visual/art-ale.htm
…as well as Auburn City Hall.

Other consistent venues include:
Atrium at L-A College; www.usm.maine.edu/lac/art/
She Doesn’t Like Guthries, 115 Middle St., Lewiston; www.myspace.com/guthriesplace
Bates College Art Museum, www.bates.edu/museum.xml
Captive Elements Art House, 25 Landry Rd., Lewiston; 786-3606; www.captiveelementsarthouse.vpweb.com/


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