Artist Andy Rosen’s installation “Ledgers” will place a series of fox sculptures in the canal next to Baxter Brewing Co. in Lewiston. Submitted image

LEWISTON — Next summer, a public art installation will add to the strange juxtaposition of new and old outside Baxter Brewing Co. and Bates Mill No. 5.

The installation, dubbed “Ledgers” by artist Andy Rosen, will place a series of foxes at the foot of the small waterfall separating the two buildings at the connection of the upper and lower canals.

The project, approved Tuesday, is the culmination of a lengthy grant process that will bring separate public art pieces to Lewiston and Auburn. Officials behind the effort are hoping it will fulfill the grant’s goal of creating economic development by enhancing the image of Lewiston-Auburn, and attracting residents, tourism and new investment.

In Auburn, a sculpture by Hugh Lassen will be located at a downtown gateway. Officials have yet to approve the final details.

“Research shows communities with widespread public art see a multiplier effect on the local economy,” said Shanna Cox, president of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. “Public art gets people out and will continue to draw people into the LA region. We are excited to be part of this effort which directly aligns with our mission to be part of an engine for economic vitality.”

In early 2019, the Maine Arts Commission awarded a $75,000 grant to the chamber and L/A Arts to implement a “cultural plan” for Lewiston-Auburn. In January, the public art working group tasked with overseeing the grant put out a call for submissions from artists and received 11 entries.

Those involved in the selection process said the recommended pieces are by artists who already have a following in Maine, and whose work might attract outside interest to Lewiston and Auburn.

Rosen, an Auburn native, is known nationally for his previous work, which has included two similar installations in Portland. The first, called “Unpack,” features seven wolf-like dogs perched on old pilings of the Grand Trunk Pier. Next was “Tread,” which featured a pair of deer emerging from the rising sea near Ocean Gateway.

Upon unveiling, both of Rosen’s Portland works drew spectators and were highly photographed. Members of the working group are hoping Lewiston-Auburn will see that same level of interest.

“Being a site for Andy’s work is important to our community,” said Beckie Conrad, the former chamber president and co-chair of the public art working group. “Not only is he an Edward Little graduate who has gone on to become a respected artist, his work is also gaining national recognition and, as a result, will attract a wide audience, further supporting the intention of the grant.”

Mayor Mark Cayer said Tuesday, “The economic contributions public art makes to local economies is vast.”

“Since public art is a magnet known to bring people to a community, we are excited to have Mr. Rosen’s work here in Lewiston as a continued example of our city’s vibrancy and positive vision for the future,” he said.

The Lewiston City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the project.

“Ledgers” is slated to be installed in the summer of 2021.

Rosen said Tuesday that the piece was partly inspired by growing up around the mills and canals.

“After a recent visit near Baxter Brewing, I noticed a spot in the canal that was overgrown to the point of looking like an island oasis,” he said. “I love the idea that the boundary between man-made and the natural is more permeable than we often realize.”

Rosen said the foxes will be made of the same material of the nearby mills: brick and clay.

For Lewiston, the project is a continuation of a recent focus on public art, from both public and private channels, that has brought works like Arlin Graff’s zebra mural on the Centreville Garage, and most recently, Charlie Hewitt’s “Hopeful” sign on the Main Street side of Bates Mill No. 5.

Tom Platz, principal at Platz Associates and redeveloper of the Bates Mill campus, has been behind numerous public art projects already. On Tuesday, he said the pieces coming to Auburn and Lewiston “are a tremendous opportunity for the Twin Cities.”

“Time and again art has proven to be an economic driver for communities,” he said. “Businesses and individuals looking to relocate see strength and vision in cities that embrace and nurture the arts. I believe this is just the beginning of building a strong presence of public art in these two communities. I know that we will be looking at ways to incorporate more art in the continuing development of the Bates Mill campus.”

Platz said an effort to bring a large sculpture of Muhammad Ali to the Bates Mill campus is “still in process.”

“Bud Form,” a sculpture by artist Hugh Lassen, will be installed in Auburn. A location has not been set.

In Auburn, officials discussed the recommended project during a workshop session last week, and were originally scheduled to vote on the project details Monday.

However, according to Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque, the council is considering a different location for Lassen’s work than was originally proposed.

Levesque said Monday that the City Council will be discussing whether to move the selected piece to a new gateway location within the downtown “in order to provide aesthetic balance, and geographically define our downtown resurgence.”

“This approach illustrates the correlation between art and economic development,” he said.

The original proposal would have placed Lassen’s work, “Bud Form,” near Anniversary Park in New Auburn, the future site of a redeveloped park and bell tower for the historic St. Louis bells.

Lassen, of Cherryfield, has large stone sculptures at the University of Maine at Orono and in Westbrook, which is the centerpiece to the Warren Memorial Sculpture Garden.

During the initial workshop in Auburn, Conrad told the council that Lassen’s work would likely bring people into the community.

“We don’t see a piece like this in our community right now,” she said.


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