LEWISTON — L/A Arts celebrated its new space Saturday with, among other activities, a recycling-themed exhibit.

The organization held a grand opening for its new location at 168 Lisbon St., just a stone’s throw from its old location at 221 Lisbon St. The celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony featured live music, food and the space’s first exhibit, “REUSE • REPAIR • RECONSIDER,” by Brooks artist Lesia Sochor.

The new space will be able to host galleries and provide a performance area for a host of future programming and partnerships, according to several members of the L/A Arts board of directors. Chair James Parakilas said the old location was much loved, but 168 Lisbon St. will give more flexibility to future projects and partnerships and allow more community participation, thus, enabling the organization to better fulfill its mission as Lewiston’s and Auburn’s arts agency.

The organization was founded by Lewiston and Auburn public libraries in 1973 as LPL + APL. It quickly became known as L/A Arts and a formal move made the name official in 1988. The original mission was to bring visual and performing arts into public areas and city schools, said Parakilas. Since then, other arts organizations have cropped up in the area and around the state, so L/A Arts tries to maintain a more local focus.

“The community of local artists has mushroomed just as the performing arts and other organizations have, so we’re now an umbrella for groups and support these other organizations with the art walk and other public art projects,” said Parakilas.

L/A Arts is working with other organizations to create a cultural plan for the two cities which has yielded several public art installations and input on public art committees, said Parakilas. The new space will promote public participation through some of its programming and support for local artists in others. Some of that programming will include collaborations with social service organizations like L/A Arts next-door neighbor Maine Inside Out. The organization has also partnered with others like New Beginnings, Stanton Bird Club and Androscoggin Land Trust. One collaboration in the works will focus on mental health and art, Parakilas said.

“Things are happening all over the two cities. We want to provide opportunities to learn the arts and for people who don’t have much access to the arts, so we do exhibits in some of the residences for older people and we’re working on programs for young people. That’s the way our mission has involved.”

Vice Chair Darby Ray served for nine years on the Lewiston Public Library board through which she became involved in L/A Arts  for the last six years. She said the new space is a beacon of hope for arts in Lewiston and Auburn because it acknowledges the importance of the area’s Franco-American heritage while welcoming more recent cultural diversity.

Said Ray, “Any vibrant community is going to have a vibrant arts culture and arts scene. L/A Arts has been around for a long time, it stands on the shoulders of generations, and in this moment we’re excited for a new chapter.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.