Two mosaics based on these famous Marsden Hartley paintings will be installed at the new Hartley Block development on Lisbon Street this spring. (Courtesy image)

LEWISTON — A large art installation coming to the new Hartley Block development in downtown Lewiston will pay homage to the building’s namesake, the renowned artist Marsden Hartley.

Two mosaics based on these famous Marsden Hartley paintings will be installed at the new Hartley Block development on Lisbon Street this spring.

As construction crews on Lisbon Street complete the 63-unit apartment building this spring, two mosaic tile installations will take shape on the building’s facade, depicting two of Hartley’s well-known oil paintings.

The developer of the project, The Szanton Co., announced Monday it had commissioned two 9- by 9-foot mosaic tile installations, which will be created by the New York-based mosaic artists Stephen Miotto and Nancy Blum.

The pieces will be “interpretations and enlargements of details” from two Hartley paintings: Smelt Brook Falls (1937, St. Louis Art Museum) and Jotham’s Island, Georgetown, Maine (1938, Portland Museum of Art).

“We want to both honor Marsden Hartley, who had a studio on this site in his early years, and create a distinctive ‘sense of place’ for his namesake building,” said Nathan Szanton, president of The Szanton Co. “We also want to build awareness of Hartley, a native of Lewiston, and his accomplishments.”

Blum and Miotto, who operates Miotto Mosaics Art Studios, were chosen after a “directed call for participation, which included submissions by Maine, New England, national and international artists and/or mosaic installers,” according to Szanton.

Miotto is known for years of work installing mosaics in New York City subways, where he has previously worked with Blum, including on the 28th Street station in Manhattan and a commuter train station in Westchester County, New York.

“Stephen and I are really excited about this commission,” Blum said in a news release. “Usually when we work together, I design the art and Miotto Mosaics installs the work. We’ve never before been asked, as a team, to interpret the work of an artist. It will be an interesting challenge to bring Hartley’s work to life on a busy downtown street.”

Blum’s past public art has also included 50 hatch covers for the streets of Seattle and a 90-foot sculptural installation at Seattle airport; artwork and architectural components for three light-rail stations in Minneapolis-St. Paul; and a 40‐foot, freestanding sculpture in Philadelphia.

The contract with Blum and Miotto calls for the pieces to be installed by the end of May. Past estimates from Szanton have said the building is on track to be finished in March, and the company expects the building to be fully rented two to three months after.

Lewiston Mayor Shane Bouchard said Monday’s announcement is important for the city.

“This is great news,” he said. “Lisbon Street continues to evolve, and mosaic artwork on The Hartley Block will add more flavor and appeal to downtown Lewiston.”

Just in the past year, a number of public art projects have either been installed or planned for downtown Lewiston, including the Pine Street mural by Arlin Graff, and larger plans for an art trail starting with a sculpture of Muhammad Ali.

The Hartley Block development has been widely praised by officials in Lewiston for its focus on a mix of affordable and market-rate housing and ground floor commercial space. It is being constructed on the site of a fire in 2006 that destroyed four buildings, including the home of Hartley’s 1906 art studio.

Hartley was born in Lewiston in 1877 and raised here, even working in the office of Lewiston’s Knopf shoe factory. As a teenager, he moved to Cleveland and studied art and in 1899, he moved to New York City to pursue a career. Hartley would go on to be considered one of the foremost American painters of his time. Later in his career, Hartley’s work shifted back to his Maine roots, with Maine landscapes often the subject of his paintings.

The two mosaics at the Hartley Block will focus on details from two such landscapes.

“Blum’s and Miotto’s interpretations of those details play with color and form, paying homage to Hartley while also drawing attention to the potentials of mosaic,” said Natasha Goldman, an expert on public art and adjunct professor of Art History at Bowdoin College in Brunswick.

Goldman’s work with The Szanton Co. helped them find Blum and Miotto.

The Hartley Block will feature 22 market-rate and 41 income-restricted rental apartments and 4,000 square feet of commercial space. The monthly rent includes a covered parking space in the Centreville Garage (directly behind the building), wireless internet, a fitness center, a children’s playroom and heat and hot water. One-, two- and three-bedroom units are offered.

The building is expected to begin welcoming residential tenants the third week of March, and commercial tenants this summer.


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