Creative Portland, the official arts agency for the City of Portland is adding local flavor to the City’s “Stay the Course” public health campaign, funded by a Keep Maine Healthy Grant. Over eighteen Maine artists and graphic designers have been hired by Creative Portland via an open call to create images and designs that positively reinforce COVID-19 preventative safety measures.

During the pandemic, we want to remind patrons and business owners alike to wear masks, wash hands frequently, stay physically distanced and to avoid convening in large groups.

Most of the selected designs are impactful without words. Designs range from whimsical images to attract children such as masked bears and superheroes, to those targeted at retail shoppers, restaurant patrons and others who want to interact safely at downtown businesses.

To complement the City’s public health campaign, Stay the Course, created by Portland Design Co, Creative Portland adds local flavor and style with diverse artistic designs reproduced on large scale banners and signs that are applied to storefronts, building facades, flag pole banners, bus shelters and buses throughout downtown. In addition, painted murals including “MEOW,” by local favorite artist Pat Corrigan, also a co-owner of The Aphodian music venue in the Bayside, is painted on the exterior wall of Coal’s Pizza, 118 Preble, on the corner of Alder & Lancaster. Artist Elsie Widing’s “Spread Love, Not Germs” mural can now be viewed at Coffee By Design at 67 India St. Additional banners of her design will be hung next week on other locations around town, including the Spring Street municipal garage and a private property on State Street.

Once everything is up, Creative Portland will post a list of the art and locations on its website. In addition, CP will launch a scavenger hunt game to inspire kids and families to wear masks.

“Our community is really coming together to support the City’s public health campaign. Over two dozen developers, businesses and property managers downtown have given approval to use their facades to get out the public health message to be mindful of others during the pandemic,” announced Dinah Minot, Executive Director of the Office of Creative Portland at the City of Portland. “Throughout the Fall and Winter months, cheerful reminders by artists will be sprinkled throughout the City, high up on buildings like the Franklin Towers, the Westin Hotel and Mechanics Hall, as well as on flag banners, all along Congress Street from Monument Square to Longfellow Square. Hiring local talent and spotlighting artists during the pandemic is vital to celebrating our creative community when public-facing events are rare.The artists’ impactful designs personalize Portland’s efforts to make a positive difference during this challenging time,” she adds.

In addition to the Westin Hotel and Mechanics Hall, community partners include Chris Dimillo, Steve Kalisz of MHR Management, Dana Totman of Avesta, Maine Medical Center, One Longfellow Square, Maine Historical Society, Coffee by Design, Coal’s Pizza, Ed Gardner, Dunham Group, Jim Brady/Fathom, Chris Rhoades/TT Maine Venture LLC, Portland Housing Authority, Portland Water District, Nathan Szanton, Opus Consulting Group, University of Southern Maine, JB Brown, GP METRO and even homeowners, like Dan St. Peter.

The office of Historic Preservation has approved the installation of the temporary banners at various locations throughout Portland, to be displayed during the pandemic.

Although Creative Portland has established the Portland Artist Relief Fund to help artists make ends meet, patrons are encouraged to buy local art online or commission new works. Donate to Creative Portland to allow community public art projects, such as the Creative Bus Shelter initiative, to build and grow.

“The Arts are an integral, necessary and vibrant part of Portland’s culture – a real engine for our creative economy. Art also feeds the soul. During the pandemic, artists are still creating and still available to be hired,” reinforces Minot.

For more information on a self-guided “Bear Hunt” and family art adventure that reinforces mask-wearing behavior, see the attached information flyer announcing our upcoming scavenger hunt. A map of art installation locations is available at creativeportland.com/bearhunt.

Arts Messaging in this public health campaign is provided by the following selected Maine artists who responded to an open call: Kifah Abdulla, Ebenezer Akakpo, Alexander Barrett, Pam Chévez, Diamond Duryea, MMH Studios, Cole Hurley & Lisa Ciampa-Hurley, Oakley Jackson, Tamara Jones, Olga Merrill, Susan Minot, Renu O’Connell (ARRT!), Hannah Rosengren, Abigail Swartz, Nora Tryon (ARRT!), Elsie Widing, Jaime Wing.

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