‘My School’ drawing by Mikayla Russell, showing her friends and family, with permission of Lights Out Art Consulting Submitted

BETHEL — Two of the three winners of the community art contest called #MaineReunited were based in Bethel and shed light on hopeful times and how pandemic united everyone. The contest was held by Lights Out Art Consulting.

Out of the 64 submissions received from Oxford County artists of all ages, it was Bethel’s own Rachael Goldberg who won the Adult Award with her collage, “Pizza Night,” and Mikayla Russell won the Youth Award for her drawing entitled, “My School.”

The winners each will receive $1,000 and their piece (in the form of prints) will be mailed across Oxford County to over 21,000 households. Come Thursday, December 16 at The Gem Theater, the winning designs as well as runners up and honorable mentions will be displayed from 4-7 p.m.

Inspiration came to Rachael Goldberg when she heard the prompts which state, “What does reunion look like? How does a common experience like a pandemic unite us? Who is in your community and how do you care for them?”

“My response to these questions was to make a piece capturing a community pizza night,” explains Goldberg. “For the past couple of summers we’ve hosted a community wood fired pizza night… We call ourselves Farmstand Flatbreads because we source as many of the pizza toppings as we can from our own gardens, from local farms, or foraged in the woods.

“I wanted to capture some of the energy and joy that I get to witness every Thursday night from inside of the food truck. There was this one night where there was a family blueberry picking in the back field for the first time ever, Fleur de Lis was playing music, people were dancing, and locals had a place to gather outside after a year where we were mostly isolated because of COVID. I believe that food has the ability to bring us together and that togetherness is what we need to create the world we dream of.”

Goldberg says she’s inspired by Maine, and sees many of the things she hopes to live in happening on a small scale in Bethel.

“I’m so inspired by the way that people show up for each other and the resourcefulness,” says Goldberg. “I find these small moments really beautiful and it makes me want to reflect something beautiful back.”

“I like to draw because it is nice and calming. It makes me happy!” exclaims Mikayla, age 8, who won the Youth Award for her drawing ‘My School’. “I like to draw lots of different things. I draw a lot of rainbows and unicorns. I also like to draw people. Sometimes I just draw lots of different shapes and colors.”

Regarding the people in her piece, reflecting her community, Mikayla says, “Yes, the other people are my friends. One is the Librarian, Mrs. Morgan, one is me, the boy is my brother, Gabriel, and the last girl is my best friend, Ahleighya… I thought of drawing about my school because it’s where my friends and I can be together.”

A mix of both the art as well as a vaccination clinic, vaccines, boosters, as well as flu shots will be available for walk-ins at the Gem Theater.

Pizza Night by Rachael Goldberg of Bethel.

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