LATEST NEWS

Art in Maine
  • Holocaust Day of Remembrance at the Klahr Center in Augusta, Maine

    The Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine [HHRC] will host its annual Yom HaShoah: Holocaust Day of Remembrance program at the Michael Klahr Center at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 30, 2017. 

    This year's program will include a screening of the film “Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story,” the incredible true account of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a Portuguese Consul who defied the orders of his government and granted thousands of visas to “undesirables” during the Holocaust. The program will also include a Q & A with Mona Pearl Treyball, the daughter of Sousa Mendes visa recipient, Sara Tanne. 

    Aristides de Sousa Mendes do Amaral e Abranches was one of the great heroes of the Second World War. As the Portuguese consul stationed in Bordeaux, France, he found himself confronted in June of 1940 with the reality of many thousands of refugees outside the Portuguese consulate attempting to escape the Nazis.

    Though Portugal was officially neutral as a nation, Portuguese diplomats were told to deny safe haven to refugees, including Jews, Russians, and stateless individuals who could not return to their countries of origin.

    Sousa Mendes defied that order and issued thousands of visas over a 12-day period. “I would rather stand with God against Man than with Man against God,” he declared.

     This program is presented in conjunction with the HHRC’s exhibit “Heroism in Unjust Times: Rescuers During the Holocaust,” on view fromWednesday, April 24 - August 11, 2017.

    For more information about Disobedience and Sousa Mendes, visit the Sousa Mendes Foundation at http://sousamendesfoundation.org.

    The program is free to attend, though donations are gratefully accepted. Light refreshments will be provided, and all are welcome and encouraged to join the HHRC on this special day of commemoration and reflection.

    For more information on this year’s Yom HaShoah: Holocaust Day of Remembrance program or to learn about more events hosted by the HHRC, visit hhrcmaine.org, call (207) 621-3530, or email infohhrc@maine.edu.

  • Maine Passamaquoddy Jeremy Frey wins first-place honor at Heard Indian art fair

    Maine Passamaquoddy Jeremy Frey wins first-place honor at Heard Indian art fair. Courtesy photo

    By Ramona du Houx

    In March, three Native American Wabanaki basketmakers from Maine won high honors at a national Indian art fair in Phoenix, Arizona. Jeremy Frey, a Passamaquoddy, won first place in Division B baskets (natural or commercial fibers, any form). and Sarah Sockbeson, a Penobscot, won second place in the same division at the 59th annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market.

    The Heard show is among the most prestigious in the country. It draws nearly 15,000 visitors and more than 600 of the nation’s most successful American Indian artists.

    “I’m just so honored to have my work recognized on the national stage,” said Frey. “It’s more than anyone can ask for, and I am very humbled by this win. It’s recognition like this that keeps me inspired and motivated to create new works.”

    Frey specializes in ash fancy baskets, a traditional form of Wabanaki weaving. He has won Best of Show at the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market and the Sante Fe Indian Market, the largest Native American Indian arts market. His work has been featured at the Smithsonian, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, and in many other prominent museums around the country.

    Sarah Sockbeson, a Penobscot, won second place in the same division as Frey at the 59th annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market. Sockbeson incorporates many elements of traditional Wabanaki techniques in her work but uses non-traditional colors, bringing vibrance to her art.

    Geo Neptune, a Passamaquoddy, won honorable mention in Division A baskets (natural fibers and cultural forms) and a Judges Choice award in the same division.

  • Former CEO and Executive Director of The Silk Road Project will lead MECA

    The Maine College of Art’s (MECA) Board of Trustees has announced the appointment of Laura Freid, Ed.D., as the 18th president of the 135 year-old institution.

    Freid comes to MECA as a passionate and proven advocate for the arts and education, most recently serving in partnership with internationally acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, as CEO and Executive Director of The Silk Road Project, a global cultural arts organization based at Harvard University.

    Silkroad works to connect the world through the arts, presenting musical performances and learning programs, and fostering radical cultural collaboration around the world to lead to advancing global understanding.

    Her prior leadership experience includes serving as Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and University Relations at Brown University and Chief Communications Officer at Harvard University where she was publisher ofHarvard Magazine.

    Led by alumnus Brian Wilk ’95, incoming chair of MECA’s Board of Trustees, and Vice President at Hasbro Toys, MECA’s presidential search process officially started in August  2016, when a search committee composed of a diverse group of representatives from within the MECA community convened to discuss and understand the most essential attributes needed in the College’s next leader.

    In announcing the choice, Wilk remarked on the thorough and extensive nature of the selection process. “It was clear to the entire search committee that we needed someone who has the skills, experience, and appetite to continue building our mission of educating artists for life while expanding our reputation as an international destination for world-class arts education. After carefully considering our impressively deep pool of seasoned candidates from all over the world, our search committee unanimously agreed that Dr. Laura Freid was the right person to guide MECA through our next critical period of growth.”  


    Debbie Reed, chair of the MECA Board of Trustees, described Freid as “an exceptional leader who understands MECA’s mission and the importance of creativity.” According to Reed, “From the moment we met Laura, we were interested in learning more about her demonstrated track record of engaging multiple constituencies while serving in senior leadership roles at multiple institutions. The Board of Trustees looks forward to an exciting future under Laura’s leadership as we move the College forward.”

    “I am grateful for the dynamic leadership that has guided MECA to date and to the entire College community and the city of Portland for creating such an exciting American center for the arts, culture and entrepreneurship,” Freid said. “In times as rife with international, political, and economic tensions as we are experiencing today, I believe investing in the arts has never been more imperative. Art gives us meaning and identity, helping us reflect on and shape our lives; it is fundamental to our well-being. That is why I believe providing artists with the education they need to succeed is such a critical and vital mission.”

    Freid’s educational background is rooted in the philosophy of aesthetics and in the history of reputation in higher education. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Washington University, an MBA from Boston University Graduate School of Management, and an Ed.D. from University of Pennsylvania.

    Freid will take office on or before July 1st, replacing Interim President Stuart Kestenbaum, Maine’s Poet Laureate and former Director of the Haystack Mountain School of Arts. Kestenbaum stepped in to lead during a transition year after Don Tuski, Ph.D. accepted the position of President at Pacific Northwest College of the Arts in Portland, Oregon, on the heels of six years of continuous enrollment and endowment growth at MECA.

  • Entries Welcome for "Time will Tell "- A Show of Artistic Wisdom and Experience

    The Coburn Gallery announces a national juried exhibition entitled "Time will Tell "- A Show of Artistic Wisdom and Experience which will feature artists at least 50 years of age residing in the United States. This exhibition will culminate in a collection of works that embody the creativity and innovation of artists ages 50 years and older at all levels of artistic endeavor. The exhibit runs from June 30-August 13 2017. 

    Juror: Shari Wilkins. Wilkins grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and received her BA from Kent State University. She has worked in NYC and San Francisco as promotions/marketing directors at two small, independent record companies. She returned to Cleveland in the 90s and completed her second BA in community organizing at Cleveland State University's Social Work Department, and wrote her master's thesis on the American Renaissance. With a life-long appreciation for photography, it is no surprise that Wilkins would create a forum to share her affinity for the photographic image and educate others on the process of developing film in the community darkroom, education center, and gallery at the Cleveland Print Room which opened in January 2013. Her photography and mixed media work has been exhibited in the Greater Cleveland area, Columbus and elsewhere in Ohio. 

    Works in any media accepted. All work must be original art conceived and executed solely by the artist within the last two years. 

    $800.00 in AWARDS. A maximum of two digital entries for $20.00 are allowed per artist. Entries must be original works in any media (2-D or 3-D), completed within the last two years. All entries must be postmarked by April 12, 2017. See www.ashland.edu/coburngallery to download the prospectus. 
  • Scientists call on Collins

    The Penobscot is polluted with mercury - we need the EPA

    Editorial by Dianne Kopec and Aram Calhoun,

    As the name implies, the goal of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to protect our environment, and it has worked toward that goal since it was created in 1970. That start date is important to the people and the environment of the lower Penobscot River, for in late 1967, the HoltraChem chlor-alkali plant began operating in Orrington on the banks of the river. In the first four years of the plant’s operation, waste mercury was routinely discharged into the river. Much of that mercury continues to contaminate the Penobscot.

    We ask that the community, and Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King — who will soon vote on the nominee to head the agency, Scott Pruitt — consider the value of the EPA and the critical importance of appointing a director who embraces the mission of protecting our environment.

    Senator Susan Collins – (202) 224-2523 Senator Angus King – (202) 224-5344

    We are scientists. We examined the impact of the mercury discharges into the river as part of the Penobscot River Mercury Study, an independent court-ordered study of mercury contamination of the Penobscot River from the HoltraChem plant. This work gave us first-hand knowledge of the value of the EPA and of the environmental consequences when regulations are absent or not enforced.

    One of the first actions of the EPA was a thorough revision of water pollution laws and the creation of the Clean Water Act, which was passed by Congress in 1972.

    For the first time in our history, the government began regulating pollutant discharges into surface waters. It was no longer legal for the Orrington chemical plant to dump its waste mercury into the Penobscot. Instead, HoltraChem began storing the waste mercury in landfills that greatly reduced the amount of mercury entering the river. Yet, roughly 90 percent of an estimated nine tons of mercury that was ultimately released into the Penobscot River was discharged before the EPA began regulating pollutant discharges into our rivers, streams and lakes.

    Today, the evidence of those mercury discharges can be seen in the sediment of the Penobscot River. Buried 16 inches below the surface of the sediment is a layer of extreme mercury contamination, deposited during the early years of plant operation.

    The sediment deposited after EPA was created is less contaminated.

    Yet, buried contaminants do not always remain hidden. River and slough channels can change course, releasing long-buried mercury into the surface sediment that is swept up and down the river with the tide. So in some parts of the lower Penobscot the most contaminated sediment is not buried, but near the surface, where it enters our food web and accumulates in our fish, birds and lobster.

    Now 50 years later, we have mercury concentrations in waterfowl almost four times greater than the Maine action level for mercury in muscle tissue, prompting the state’s first health advisory on the consumption of breast meat from ducks. Migratory song birds arrive in marshes along the lower Penobscot with low mercury burdens, but quickly accumulate mercury concentrations in their blood that exceed levels known to cause reproductive failure. Average mercury concentrations in lobster living near the mouth of the Penobscot River are two to three times greater than the Maine action level, and individual lobster have concentrations over six times greater.

    There is now a state ban on lobster harvesting in that area. Without EPA regulations, the river would be even more contaminated. Finally, mercury concentrations in the surface sediments of the river are seven to 10 times greater than background concentrations in rivers Down East, and we estimate it will take a minimum of 60 to 400 years, depending on the area, for the Penobscot to clean itself.

    Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, has been nominated to head the EPA, despite the fact that he is a leading advocate against the agency. His history of suing the EPA over environmental regulations, the same regulations that now limit discharges to the Penobscot, should disqualify him from service as the agency’s director.

    This is only one example of the positive role the EPA plays in safeguarding public and environmental health. Environmental regulations save our country money, provide jobs, and ensure the health of all animals, plants and the humans who see clean air, water and soil as an American right. The EPA needs a leader who will defend that right.

    Dianne Kopec is an adjunct instructor in the department of wildlife, fisheries, and conservation biology at the University of Maine in Orono. Aram Calhoun is a professor of wetlands ecology at UMaine. Peter Santschi, a regents professor in the department of marine sciences at Texas A&M University in Galveston, and Ralph Turner, a mercury researcher at RT Geosciences Inc., also contributed to this piece.

  • "Unorthodox" Block Printing Workshop at the Harlow Gallery in February

    The Harlow Gallery, in Hallowell, presents a two part workshop Fast, Cheap and Easy: an Unorthodox Block Printing Primer”, lead by Scott Minzy.  The printmaking workshop is 7-9pm on Tuesdays and is split into two 4-week sessions and is hosted by Harlow Gallery, located at 160 Water Street in Hallowell.

    The first 4-week session is scheduled for February 7, 14, 21, and 28 and the second 4-week session is scheduled for March 7, 14, 21, and 28. Tuition per session is $50 for KVAA/Harlow Gallery members or $60 for non-members (paid to Harlow Gallery) plus a $25 supplies fee (paid directly to instructor on the day of the event.) Participants are welcome to sign up for one or both sessions.

    Learn the technique behind creating bold and striking prints in a class suitable for all levels of experience.

    We will explore design principles of relief images, carving techniques, inking, and printing. Participants will have the experience of working with foam, rubber, wood and linoleum blocks learning the different qualities of each material. Most importantly this class will teach participants how to print at home without a press.

    These easily printed blocks make great postcards, propaganda posters, subversive illustrations and of course, fine art prints. Scottminzy.com


    For more information visit harlowgallery.org or call 207-622-3813.
    Harlow Gallery
    Kennebec Valley Art Association

    160 Water Street
    Hallowell, ME 04347
    207-622-3813

  • Impact of the Affordable Care Act in Maine and how Dirigo Health helped

    By Ramona du Houx

    Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 thousands of Mainers have gained coverage, and hundreds of thousands more have had their coverage substantially improved.

    On January 16, 2017 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released an extensive compilation of state-level data illustrating the substantial improvements in health care for all Americans over the last six years.

    The data show that the uninsured rate in Maine has fallen by 17 percent since the ACA was enacted, translating into 22,000 Mainers gaining coverage, some transfered to the ACA from the established state program, Dirigo Health Care. 

    Photo: President Barack Obama came to Maine after the ACA was enacted and praised Governor John Baldacci for his work on the creation of the Dirigo Health Care Act. Photo by Ramona du Houx

    “As our nation debates changes to the health care system, it’s important to take stock of where we are today compared to where we were before the Affordable Care Act,” said Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “Whether Mainers get coverage through an employer, Medicaid, the individual market, or Medicare, they have better health coverage and care today as a result of the ACA. Millions of Americans with all types of coverage have a stake in the future of health reform. We need to build on our progress and continue to improve health care access, quality, and affordability, not move our system backward.”

    Photo: Governor John Baldacci with Robin Mills talking about Dirigo Choice in 2007. Photo by Ramona du Houx

    Maine was an unusual case, because the state had enacted the Dirigo Health Care Act during the Baldacci administration, and many of the ACA benefits were already apart of Dirigo. Because of Dirigo it was easier to transfer over to the ACA.

    Governor John Baldacci deserves recognition for creating a model for the ACA. Other portions of Dirigo were dismantled by Gov. Paul LePage, who succeeded Baldacci. Never-the-less Baldacci's Dirigo saved thousands of lives by giving people health insurance for the first time, by expanding preventative care, covering more young adults, by eliminating the pre-existing condition and discrimination against women in health coverage.

    Dirigo Choice, the insurance branch of Dirigo Health, insured more than 40,000 Mainers and also became a model for President Obama’s ACA. In 2010 Monique Kenyon said, "We were shocked,” when she found out her husband was suffering from cancer. “Being a middle-income family we didn’t qualify for any assistance. We couldn’t afford all the treatment without insurance, but insurance companies wouldn’t accept him because he has this preexisting condition. He’s still with us because of Dirigo Choice.”

    Signed into law in the 2003 Dirigo Health Care Reform Act was a bold step toward universal health coverage during a time when policymakers in Washington D.C. and in state houses struggled to take even small steps. A few years later Governor Romney of Massachusetts used elements of Dirigo in his health care policies.

    “In many ways, Dirigo was a pace-setter and blueprint to national reform,” said Trish Riley, former director of Maine Governor John Baldacci’s Office of Health Policy and Finance. Riley said the program saved many lives by helping thousands of uninsured gain access to medical care and enabling more than 1,000 small businesses to provide insurance for their owners and employees.

    Baldacci expanded Medicare, covering many more Mainers, but LePage has refused to accept this part of the ACA, so thousands who were on, what the state calls MaineCare were kicked off because of LePage -  too many have died.

    In 2003, Maine ranked 16th healthiest among the states; in 2010 Maine was in the top ten. In 2003, Maine ranked 19th among the states in covering the uninsured; in 2010 Maine was sixth. With Dirigo Health, Maine created an efficient public health system with eight districts that cover the entire state through Healthy Maine Partnerships. During the Baldacci administration the state reached a milestone in healthcare coverage, won awards for Dirigo and became a model for the nation. (photo below taken in 2010)

    The ACA picked up the torch and contained to save the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people in Maine.

    Highlights of theACA  data include:

    Employer Coverage: 702,000 people in Maine are covered through employer-sponsored health plans. 

    Since the ACA this group has seen:

    An end to annual and lifetime limits: Before the ACA, 431,000 Mainers with employer or individual market coverage had a lifetime limit on their insurance policy. That meant their coverage could end exactly when they needed it most. The ACA prohibits annual and lifetime limits on policies, so all Mainers with employer plans now have coverage that’s there when they need it.
    Young adults covered until age 26: An estimated 8,000 young adults in Maine have benefited from the ACA provision that allows kids to stay on their parents’ health insurance up to age 26.

    Free preventive care: Under the ACA, health plans must cover preventive services — like flu shots, cancer screenings, contraception, and mammograms – at no extra cost to consumers. This provision benefits 588,281 people in Maine, most of whom have employer coverage.

    Slower premium growth: Nationally, average family premiums for employer coverage grew 5 percent per year 2010-2016, compared with 8 percent over the previous decade. Family premiums are $3,600 lower today than if growth had matched the pre-ACA decade.


    Better value through the 80/20 rule: Because of the ACA, health insurance companies must spend at least 80 cents of each premium dollar on health care or care improvements, rather than administrative costs like salaries or marketing, or else give consumers a refund. Mainers with employer coverage have received $2,507,067 in insurance refunds since 2012.


    Medicaid: 273,160 people in Maine are covered by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, including 115,217 children and 52,077 seniors and people with disabilities covered by both Medicaid and Medicare. The ACA expanded Medicaid eligibility and strengthened the program for those already eligible.

    40,000 Mainers could gain coverage: An estimated 40,000 Mainers could have health insurance today if Maine expanded Medicaid under the ACA. Coverage improves access to care, financial security, and health; expansion would result in an estimated 5,000 more Mainers getting all needed care, 5,700 fewer Mainers struggling to pay medical bills, and 50 avoided deaths each year.
    Thousands of Mainers with a mental illness or substance use disorder could get help: Nearly 30 percent of those who could gain coverage if more states expanded Medicaid have a mental illness or substance use disorder.


    Maine could be saving millions in uncompensated care costs: Instead of spending $40 million on uncompensated care, which increases costs for everyone, Maine could be getting $430 million in federal support to provide low-income adults with much needed care.
    Children, people with disabilities, and seniors can more easily access Medicaid coverage: The ACA streamlined Medicaid eligibility processes, eliminating hurdles so that vulnerable Mainers could more easily access and maintain coverage.


    Maine is improving health care for individuals with chronic conditions, including those with severe mental illness: The ACA established a new Medicaid flexibility that allows states to create health homes, a new care delivery model to improve care coordination and lower costs for individuals with chronic conditions, such as severe mental illness, Hepatitis C, diabetes and heart disease
    Individual market: 75,240 people in Maine have coverage through the Marketplace. Individual market coverage is dramatically better compared to before the ACA:

    No discrimination based on pre-existing conditions: Up to 590,266 people in Maine have a pre-existing health condition. Before the ACA, these Mainers could have been denied coverage or charged an exorbitant price if they needed individual market coverage. Now, health insurance companies cannot refuse coverage or charge people more because of pre-existing conditions.
    Tax credits available to help pay for coverage: Before the ACA, only those with employer coverage generally got tax benefits to help pay for health insurance. Now, 63,896 moderate- and middle-income Mainers receive tax credits averaging $342 per month to help them get covered through HealthCare.gov.

    Women pay the same as men: Before the ACA, women were often charged more than men just because of their gender. That is now illegal thanks to the ACA, protecting roughly half the people of Maine.

    Greater transparency and choice: Before the ACA, it was virtually impossible for consumers to effectively compare insurance plan prices and shop for the best value. Under the ACA, Maine has received $5 million in federal funding to provide a more transparent marketplace where consumers can easily compare plans, choosing among 25 plans on average.

    Medicare: 315,160 people in Maine are covered by Medicare. The ACA strengthened the Medicare Trust Fund, extending its life by over a decade.

    Medicare enrollees have benefited from:

    Lower costs for prescription drugs: Because the ACA is closing the prescription drug donut hole, 18,970 Maine seniors are saving $19 million on drugs in 2015, an average of $986 per beneficiary.
    Free preventive services: The ACA added coverage of an annual wellness visit and eliminated cost-sharing for recommended preventive services such as cancer screenings. In 2015, 165,892 Maine seniors, or 71 percent of all Maine seniors enrolled in Medicare Part B, took advantage of at least one free preventive service.

    Fewer hospital mistakes: The ACA introduced new incentives for hospitals to avoid preventable patient harms and avoidable readmissions. Hospital readmissions for Maine Medicare beneficiaries dropped 4 percent between 2010 and 2015, which translates into 232 times Maine Medicare beneficiaries avoided an unnecessary return to the hospital in 2015. 

    More coordinated care: The ACA encouraged groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers to come together to provide coordinated high-quality care to the Medicare patients they serve. 6 Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) in Maine now offer Medicare beneficiaries the opportunity to receive higher quality, more coordinated care.

    ACA Content created by Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)

  • Exhibit by Hélène Farrar launches UMF Emery Community Arts Center’s spring schedule

    A vibrant solo exhibit by visual artist Hélène Farrar launches the UMF Emery Community Arts Center’s spring schedule. The show, “What We Carry,” runs from Jan. 17 to March 19, and features an opening reception from 5-7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 20. The exhibit is free and open to the public.


    “Balance” by Hélène Farrar

    Farrar’s exhibit, “What We Carry” shows that we are more complicated than we think we are. We are even more complicated than even the stories we tell. We can’t see that someone next to us might be carrying with them an entire room or an elephant-sized amount of trauma, an isolating living situation or viewpoint, anger, a deep (dis)connection to others, and a personal or familial history of significance.

    But revealing or attempting to engage with others about the depth of our human nature collectively and individually can place us into vulnerability. Through layers of mark, textures, patterns, humor and “stuff” these works hope to begin a conversation about our duality while also exploring larger themes including migration, human relationships, differences in perspective, political and social climate and personal search.

    This exhibit consists of twenty plus paintings in encaustic (molten beeswax paint) and sculptures of various scale, including a 3 by 6 foot carved wooden elephant. Heat is used throughout the encaustic process, from melting the beeswax and varnish to fusing the layers of wax. The medium can be used alone for its transparency or adhesive qualities or used pigmented.

    Farmington native Farrar teaches and makes her work just down the road in Manchester. Both her mother, also an artist, and her stepfather, taught at UMF. She has fond first memories as a child of Farmington and UMF’s Alumni Theater and art studios.

    “Having my first Farmington exhibit at UMF’s Emery Community Arts Center is incredibly emotional for me,” said Farrar. “It feels very much like coming home.”

    An artist and art educator, she has taught and worked in the visual arts for twenty years while actively teaching and exhibiting in commercial, nonprofit and universities in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Italy and England. Farrar was most recently featured in a summer exhibition “Vision + Verse” curated by Anne Zills at the University of New England.

    Her paintings have been accepted into curated exhibits at the Creative Arts Workshop of New Haven, the Saco Museum, the University of New England and Twiggs Gallery in New Hampshire. Farrar is represented by the Stable Gallery in Damariscotta, Archipelago Fine Arts in Rockland, the Eastport Breakwater Gallery and the Center for Maine Craft in West Gardiner.

    Farrar has a BA in Studio Art from the University of Maine and a Masters of Fine Art Degree in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College in Vermont.

    She currently owns and operates her own private art school in Maine out of her “Farmhouse” studio, where she holds varied workshops and classes.  Hélène is a great lover of people, dogs, culture, music, podcasts, and birds.  She can be often found enjoying the Maine outdoors skiing, biking, or walking her dog. She lives and works in Manchester with her ten-year-old daughter Olympia, engineer husband Stan and dog Buddy.

    This exhibit is sponsored by the UMF Emery Community Arts Center.

  • Rep. Devin combats ocean acidification, addresses conference with Gov. Jerry Brown

    Rep. Mick Devin, of Newcastle, ME, joined fellow members of the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification, including California Governor Jerry Brown, at a combat acidifacation launch event in CA. 

    Maine recognized as a national leader in fighting for healthier oceans 

    By Ramona du Houx

    In December of 2016,  U.S. and global leaders launched the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification in Coronado, CA.  Rep. Mick Devin, D-Newcastle, represented Maine at the event and was a key speaker. 

    “It was an honor to show the rest of the country how Maine is a leader when it comes to addressing the quality of the water in our oceans,” said Rep. Devin. “Scientists are working around the clock because they know how many people depend on the ocean to make a living.”

    The oceans are the primary protein source for 2.6 billion people, and support $2.5 trillion of economic activity each year. Maine's lobster industry could suffer greatly from ocean acidification. Catches like this one would only be read in history books. This lobster was put back into the ocean, as it's way beyond the size fishermen can legally catch.

    Maine is seen as the leading state on the East Coast addressing ocean acidification.  Maine was the first state to establish an Ocean Acidification Commission.  As a result of the commission the Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification Alliance, or MOCA, was established. 

    Ocean acidification occurs when carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use and other carbon sources dissolves in the water and forms carbonic acid. Other sources of acidification include fresh water from rivers and decomposing algae feeding off nutrients in runoff. Carbonic acid dissolves the shells of shellfish.

    Maine’s major inshore shellfisheries, including clams, oysters, lobsters, shrimp and sea urchins, could see major losses if ocean acidification is left unchecked.

    At the conference, Devin addressed how state leaders are using science to establish priorities in dealing with the rising acidity of the earth’s oceans. He explained how Maine used those priorities to develop a long-term action plan.  

    He stressed the importance of addressing ocean acidification by developing plans to remediate and adapt to it. Devin said that strategy is crucial for Maine to maintain its healthy marine economy, particularly the commercial fishing and aquaculture industries, which are valued well in excess of billion dollars annually. 

    Devin finished his presentation by showing a slide of a boiled lobster dinner and repeating his trademark line about one reason the marine economy matters to so many: “People do not visit the coast of Maine to eat a chicken sandwich.” 

    The Alliance includes several state governments, governments of Canadian provinces, North American tribal governments, and countries as far away as France, Chile and Nigeria. 

    While lobsters are the iconic image of Maine, many other shell fish will be effected, like musscles, and clams. Photo by Ramona du Houx

    Members have five primary goals: advancing scientific understanding of ocean acidification; taking meaningful actions to reduce causes of acidification; protect the environment and coastal communities from impacts of a changing ocean; expanding public awareness and understanding of acidification; and building sustained global support for addressing the problem.

    Devin, a marine biologist at the Darling Center in Walpole and a member of the Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee, is serving his third term in the Maine House. He represents Bremen, Bristol, Damariscotta, Newcastle, part of Nobleboro, part of South Bristol, Monhegan Plantation and the unorganized territory of Louds Island.

     

  • The 128 Legislature and how to help the state out of stagnation

     By Ramona du Houx

    Members of the 128th Legislature were sworn into the Maine House of Representatives on December 7, 2016, led by Democratic Speaker of the House Sara Gideon. There are 25 new members and 52 returning representatives in the House, including 36 women.

    “Today, we start out with a Maine economy that is lagging behind New England and the rest of the country in terms of economic growth, recovery of jobs lost during the recession and wage growth,” said Gideon, D-Freeport.  “We lead New England when it comes to the number of Maine children and seniors living in poverty. Those are the facts.  And here is another fact: We have to do better. We will always work together and come to the table in search of common ground to help the 1.3 million Mainers who expect us to rise above politics.” 

    There are issues that could grow Maine’s economy, which haven’t been addressed during the LePage administration. Instead he’s focused on cutting benefits and lowering taxes for the wealthy. in his speach today to the lawmakers he talked about changing the Minimum wage referendum that passed, not about how to grow jobs.

    In a recent interview, Former Governor John Baldacci sited a study conducted by Former Governor King, which listed the top areas in need of investment that still remain areas that need funding.

    "The two leading factors in the study were the education and training of the population and the amount of Research and Development funds invested to help businesses get the latest cutting edge technologies so they can compete successfully with other businesses anyone in the world,” said Gov. Baldacci.

    Maine has suffered under LePage by the lack of Research and Development (R&D) funds that used to spur economic activity as the research, conducted at the University of Maine and other laboratories, was regularly used by start-up Maine companies, there-by growing jobs across Maine. The people have always voted overwhelmingly for R&D bonds in Maine. But LePage doesn’t believe in bond issues and has held bond funds hostage in the past.

    "We've been doing a terrible job at putting resources in Research and Development," said Gov. Baldacci, who invested dramatically in R&D during his administration. "We also need to focus on job training. We're not doing enough to match jobs to the industries established here. Our Labor Department needs to be our Human Resource Department. There are plenty of job opportunities out there that need trained workers and plenty of workers who want the opportunity to work. Our people, families, and small businesses aren't looking for a handout, but are looking for opportunities. Our responsibility is to make sure that happens throughout all of Maine."

    Baldacci started this work with Former Labor Secretary Laura Fortman, but little has been done to progress these job opportunities under the LePage administration.

    The lack of these investments, along with other LePage policies has led to stagnation in Maine.

    “Under Republican leadership, Maine has lagged behind in the national economic recovery. We work longer hours than our neighbors in any other state in New England, yet the purchasing power of our paychecks in one of the lowest in the country. Meanwhile, our governor has turned a blind eye as five of our friends, family members and neighbors die every week from the opioid epidemic. I look forward our leadership team’s work over the next few months to create good jobs and a fair economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top." 

    Members of the House include teachers, small business owners, nonprofit leaders, a former mill electrician, prominent civil rights advocates, farmers, former law enforcement officials, and veterans. 

    “I’m proud of the bipartisan work we achieved last session, particularly to improve services for veterans, but there is more work to be done,” said veteran Marine Rep. Assistant Majority Leader Jared Golden. “In the short term, our first task is to pass a balanced budget that reflects the needs of our state, but we also have to keep an eye on the future. Maine needs to create good paying jobs by investing in the infrastructure our communities need to compete. I look forward to working with my colleagues to address these and other challenges facing our state.”

  • Democrats won a battle for greater transparency for LePage's forensic facility plan

    Photo and article by Ramona du Houx

    Maine democrats won a battle for greater transparency to build a secure forensic facility next to the Riverview Psychiatric Center on November 30, 2016. 

    Democrats said the forensic unit project needs vetting by the Legislature’s appropriations and health and human services committees for a range of reasons including the financing, operations and policy matters related to who would be housed in the facility. Gov. LePage intends for the facility to be privately run, which could jeopardize the health and wellbeing of citizens if not carefully monitored. That overseeing duty needs to be clarified by the Legislature.

    “This is a fundamental change in how Maine cares for forensic patients that demands proper legislative oversight and public input.” said Assistant House Majority Leader Sara Gideon “DHHS has never brought this proposal to the Legislature, but is essentially threatening to build the project elsewhere and at greater cost if they don't get their way. We must provide proper care to Mainers with serious mental illness, and we are committed to making this happen with the proper oversight that protects this vulnerable population.”

    The Democrats present at the Legislative Council meeting – Gideon, Speaker Mark Eves and House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe – sought to table the proposal so it could be fully vetted as soon as the 128the Legislature convenes in January.

    House Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette, however, forced a vote to simply approve the project. His motion failed by a vote of 3-3.

    “Let’s remember what got us here in the first place. Three years ago, the feds came in and found that Riverview patients were severely abused – sometimes even with pepper spray and Tasers,” said Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, House chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. “As lawmakers, we have a duty to ensure the safety and well-being of the patients in the state’s care. We can’t simply hand a blank check over to the administration.”

     

  • Equal Protection of the Laws: America’s 14th Amendment - A Maine Exhibit

    Justice?, by Ramona du Houx
     
    Maine's Equal Protection of the Laws: America’s 14th Amendment exhibit opens on Thursday, September 22nd and runs through December 22nd, 2016
     
    The exhibit will be at the Michael Klahr Center on the campus of the University of Maine at Augusta, 46 University Drive in Augusta.
    Featured are 36 works by 17 Maine artists who were inspired by the rights granted by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
    Themes depicted relate to many areas of American society covered by the amendment: including due process, liberty, gender and sexuality, race, legal protections, equality in the workplace, housing, education, law enforcement, rights of the incarcerated, tolerance, and local, state, and federal representation
    The exhibit is being hosted by the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, in conjunction with the Harlow Gallery of the Kennebec Valley Art Association, with support from the Maine Humanities Council and associated program support by the Maine Arts Commission.
     
    The Holocaust and Human Rights Center is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or weekends and evenings by appointment or when other events are being held.
    People Power, by Ramona du Houx
     

    Participating artists are listed below alphabetically by town:

    Augusta: Anthony Austin
    Bangor: Jeanne Curran
    Biddeford: Roland Salazar
    Brunswick: Mary Becker Weiss
    Camden: Claudia Noyes Griffiths
    Falmouth: Anne Strout
    Gardiner: Allison McKeen
    Hallowell: Nancy Bixler
    Lincolnville: Petrea Noyes
    Manchester: Bruce Armstrong
    Solon: Ramona du Houx
    Tenants Harbor: Otty Merrill
    Town Unknown: Julian Johnson
    Waterville: Jen Hickey
    West Rockport: Barbra Whitten
    Wilton: Rebecca Spilecki
    Winslow: Mimi McCutcheon

    There are several events planned in association with this project, including the Pride Film Festival – a series of four free films held Friday nights in October at 7 p.m. The films this year are The Boys in the Band (10/7), Fire (10/14), Paragraph 175 (10/21), and The Danish Girl (10/28).
     
    Mike Daisey’s one man play The Trump Card had sold out runs this fall in Washington and New York and is now touring throughout the country. With special permission from the playwright, HHRC Program Director and UMA adjunct professor of drama David Greenham will read the hard-hitting and hilarious monologue on Saturday, October 22nd at 7 p.m. and Sunday, October 23rd at 2 p.m.
    The Trump Card reminds all of us of the role we have played in paving the way to create one of the most divisive presidential campaigns in recent memory. Tickets for The Trump Card are $15 and proceeds benefit HHRC’s educational outreach programs.
    As the Stage Review put it, “Daisey breaks down what makes Trump tick—and in doing so illuminates the state of our American Dream and how we’ve sold it out.” 
     
    14th Amendment by Allison McKeen 
    The HHRC is also pleased to host Everyman Repertory Theater’s production of Lanford Wilson’s Talley’s Folly November 17th, 18th and 19th. The Pulitzer Prize winning play is a love story set in Missouri in 1942 and addresses issues of prejudice and the injustices that caused many to flee Europe in the years leading up to World War II.  
    The New York Times said about the play, “It is perhaps the simplest, and the most lyrical play Wilson has written—a funny, sweet, touching and marvelously written and contrived love poem for an apple and an orange.”   Tickets go on sale September 27th.
     
    Also in November, a group of UMA drama students under the direction of adjunct drama professor Jeri Pitcher will present a reading of their work in progress called Created Equal. The project, created in partnership with the HHRC, the UMA Writing Center, and UMA students will focus on the importance of the 14th amendment today. A full performance of the piece is planned for the spring of 2017.
  • ME's proceeds from Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative’s close to $82M

    Maine makes over $2,270,635in 33rd auction

    Article by Ramona du Houx

    Maine brought in $2,265,634.20 from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), 33rd auction of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances.

    RGGI is the first mandatory market-based program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. RGGI is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector. 

    The program, first started in Maine when Governor John Baldacci pushed for it’s implementation and had a bill introduced. The legislation won unanimous support in Maine’s Senate and House. To date RGGI has brought in $81,837,449.15 to the state for weatherization and alternative energy projects, for businesses and homes. 

    “RGGI is working. It is helping Mainers reduce our energy bills and reduce emissions. It is a win-win and a model for the entire nation," said Former State Representative Seth Berry, who sat on Maine’s legislative committee that approved the final RGGI rules.

    States sell nearly all emission allowances through auctions and invest proceeds in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other consumer benefit programs. These programs are spurring innovation in the clean energy economy and creating green jobs in the RGGI states.

    14,911,315 CO2 allowances were sold at the auction at a clearing price of $4.54.

    The September 7th auction was the third auction of 2016, and generated $67.7 million for reinvestment in strategic programs, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, direct bill assistance, and GHG abatement programs. Cumulative proceeds from all RGGI CO2allowance auctions exceed $2.58 billion dollars.

    “This auction demonstrates RGGI’s benefits to each participating state, helping to reduce harmful emissions while generating proceeds for reinvestment. Each RGGI state directs investments according to its individual goals, and this flexibility has been key to the program’s success across a diverse region.” said Katie Dykes, Deputy Commissioner at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Chair of the RGGI, Inc. Board of Directors. “Another key RGGI strength is our commitment to constant improvement, as exemplified in the program review process. The RGGI states are continuing to evaluate program elements and improvements as part of the 2016 Program Review, with the goal of reaching consensus on program revisions that support each state’s unique goals and priorities.

    Governor John Baldacci led the effort in Maine to join RGGI and had a comprehensive energy plan similar to Cuomo. Baldacci's clean energy plan focused on how to get Maine off fossil fuels and bring clean energy jobs to the state. His administration created grants to help new innovations like the floating offshore wind platforms and windmills developed at the University of Maine under Dr. Habib Dagher's leadership. (photo: by Ramona du Houx. Dr. Dagher talks with Gov. John Baldacci about the next steps for wind farm implementation offshore. The prototype of the floating windfarm is the firs photo on the page)

    Nine Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).        

    “Independent reports have found the reinvestment of RGGI proceeds is creating jobs, reducing consumers’ utility bills, and boosting state economies while driving down carbon emissions,” said Jared Snyder, Deputy Commissioner at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Vice Chair of the RGGI, Inc. Board of Directors. “Our reinvestment of RGGI proceeds is supporting Governor Cuomo’s transformational clean energy and energy efficiency goals to generate 50 percent of New York’s energy from renewable sources and reduce carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030, ushering in the low-carbon economy essential to the wellbeing of future generations.”

  • Maine becomes first state to officially recognize “Veterans in the Arts” day

     

    Maine becomes first state to officially recognize “Veterans in the Arts” day

    Law designating Nov. 1 as Veterans in the Arts and Humanities Day goes into effect July 29

     Maine will become the first state to recognize Nov. 1 as Veterans in the Arts and the Humanities Day when a new law designating the holiday goes into effect on Fri., July 29.

    “The United States is experiencing an epidemic of suicides among service men and women. It’s two to three times the rate of the general population,” said Rep. Bob Duchesne, D-Hudson, who sponsored and championed the measure. “Veterans’ groups are particularly recognizing art for its therapeutic value.”

    Duchesne’s bill came amidst a national movement to recognize veterans in the arts annually on Nov. 1. Several major cities have recognized Veterans in the Arts and Humanities Day, including Los Angeles.

    Jay Emerson of Hudson, who founded the American Veterans Arts and Crafts Gallery, asked Duchesne to sponsor the measure.

    “This does not involve days off or fireworks. What it does do in a quiet way is salute the men and women who have given a blank check to the United States, up to and including their lives, to defend and preserve this nation,” said Emerson, a Vietnam veteran. “I believe it is a very important step in the right direction to help veterans return to their rightful place in a free society.”

    In addition to running a website that allows veterans to sell their art and crafts online, the American Veterans Arts and Crafts Gallery organizes art shows to display veterans’ art, including one at the Maine State House this past fall.

    “They’re doing all the work themselves. All they’re asking for is some helpful recognition so they can grow their ability to help other vets,” Duchesne said of Emerson’s Maine-based organization.

    At nearly 10 percent, Maine’s percentage of military veterans within the state’s population is one of the highest in the country.

    According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA medical facilities across the country incorporate creative arts into their recreation therapy programs, recognizing the role the humanities can play in recovery from service-related challenges. The department also partners with the American Legion Auxiliary to organize the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, a celebration and art show for veterans treated in the VA national health care system.

    Both the House and the Senate voted unanimously to enact Duchesne’s measure. The text of the new law is available here.

    Duchesne is serving his fifth term in the Maine House, having previously served from 2005 to 2012. He is House chair of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee and a member of both the Government Oversight Committee and the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. He represents Alton, Argyle, Corinth, Hudson and Milford.

     

  • Ramona du Houx exhibits watercolor like images at Maine's SugarWood Gallery

    For the month of July the SugarWood Gallery, at 248 Broadway in Farmington, will feature the fine art photography of Ramona du Houx. The open house will be held on July 1st from 5pm-8pm, during Farmington’s First Friday Art Walk.

    Ramona du Houx creates fine art photography that looks like watercolor paintings evoking mystery and a sense of wonder. Some find them nostalgic and some mystical. Many have said the images have a healing nature.

    “I try to bring the beauty, magic and mystery of nature to viewers by amplifying nature’s essence,” said Ramona, a Solon resident.

    New work on display will include images of Maine’s Windjammer fleet under full sail.

    “Scientists, innovators, and inventors throughout history took the time to observe nature and her connective rhythms. But now society plugs us into the Internet, and while that can open doors, sometimes too much of being Internet-connected disconnects us from the mysteries of the natural world that are transformational. I want to help show how nature’s interconnectedness can lead us to discoveries about our world and ourselves,” said Ramona.

    Ramona uses the camera with a painter’s eye. The technique she discovered back in 1979, in New York, uses movement to create a sense of wonder through colors, textures, memories, and the seasons. Everything within the viewfinder becomes visibly interconnected when objects merge with the motion of the camera as the image, the “lightgraph,” is taken.

    The photographic watercolor technique is always a challenge. “I never know exactly what the results will be, that’s the exciting part of the creation,” said Ramona.

  • Mid-Life Achievement award from Maine film festival will go to Gabriel Byrne

    The Maine International Film Festival (MIFF) will present its annual Mid-Life Achievement Award to actor Gabriel Byrne at a special ceremony held at the Waterville Opera House on the evening of July 15. Most recently, Byrne was nominated for a 2016 Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in the Broadway production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

    “We are thrilled to honor Gabriel Byrne with the 2016 Mid-Life Achievement Award,” said MIFF programming director Ken Eisen. “Gabriel is a truly brilliant actor with a career that spans over four decades and includes over 100 film, stage, and TV credits. We can’t wait to welcome him to MIFF.”

    Byrne has appeared in over 35 feature films, including Excalibur,Miller’s CrossingThe Usual Suspects, and Stigmata. Byrne co-wrote The Last of the High Kings and has also produced several films, including the Academy Award-nominated In the Name of the Father. One of Byrne’s most identifiable roles is that of Dr. Paul Weston in the HBO drama In Treatment, for which he won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for two Emmy Awards and two Satellite Awards.

    The award presentation will be held after a screening of The Usual Suspects, a neo-noir mystery crime thriller directed by Byran Singer and written by Christopher McQuarrie, on Friday, July 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Waterville Opera House. Tickets are $14 and are now available online. The film centers on five criminals (played by Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey, Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Pollak, and Stephen Baldwin) who meet in a police lineup and decide to pull off a heist together. Byrne will be in Waterville July 14 and 15 with screenings of Miller’s CrossingJindabyne, and Louder Than Bombs. 

  • Bangor to have artists paint murals on Waterfront Concert fence

    The City of Bangor’s Cultural Commission and City Staff in conjunction with Waterfront Concerts are teaming up to create a community-based mural project to provide free walls for the community as a way to promote arts & culture along with beautification, community safety, youth empowerment and graffiti prevention in the City of Bangor.

    "Over the last 6 years Bangor has made tremendous progress in revitalizing our waterfront for the whole community. The new fence and the inclusion of an art/ mural project for young people and other community members is another positive step forward for us," said Former Bangor Mayor Joe Baldacci, who currently serves as a City Councilor.

    The eight-foot-tall cedar board fence located at the rear of the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, running 320 feet, would offer area artists “an extraordinary canvas,” said Alex Gray of Waterfront Concerts. “Beyond the benefits of safety and security, we recognize the opportunity to foster local talent and showcase the region’s creative spirit.”

    The project is in the early planning stages with the first phase focused on the pavilion’s rear interior wall. The notion is to create ‘free walls’ for artistic expression, space for artists to paint legally and to share their work with a large and diverse audience.

    Gray and his team reached out to the City of Bangor’s Cultural Commission and City Staff who upon research discovered many many other mural projects and beautification initiatives across the country in which cities have worked with businesses, community-based programs, educators, and non-profits to help provide “safe spaces” for artists and to deter vandalism.

    Outdoor murals have proven effective in combatting destructive graffiti, supporting arts and culture, and contributing to economic development and will further compliment the fan experience at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion.

    “We applaud Waterfront Concerts for its continued commitment to the City of Bangor,” said Kierie Piccinnini, chair of the City’s Commission on Cultural Development. “The Commission is eager to support this bold vision and look forward to helping flesh out the details.”

    Artists and community-based groups interested in participating in the Free Walls project are encouraged to contact elissa@waterfrontconcerts.com to learn more.

  • Colby museum gifted rare series of 100 Picasso etchings

    The Lunders’ 2013 gift of American art included nearly 500 works and was valued at $100 million.

    Peter Lunder graduated from Colby in 1956 and worked for his uncle, Harold Alfond, at Dexter Shoe Co. In a brief email Friday afternoon, Paula Lunder declined to comment about the gift.

  • Workshop for artists, writers on publishing one’s work in Bangor, ME

    Tuesday, May 10, 2016 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

    Location: University of Maine Museum of Art, 40 Harlow Street Bangor, ME 04401 , Bangor, Maine

    For more information: 207-992-4200

    The city of Bangor Commission on Cultural Development will host a free workshop for artists and writers on publishing one’s work 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 10, at the University of Maine Museum of Art, 40 Harlow St. Panelists Joshua Bodwell and Jane Karker will make short presentations and entertain questions about publishing one’s work.

    Bodwell is the executive director of Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. He is a regular contributor to Poets and Writers Magazine where his author profiles have included Ann Beattie, John Casey, Andre Dubus III, Richard Ford and Richard Russo. He is a contributing editor at the online journal Fiction Writers Review. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in magazines and quarterlies such as Ambit (London), Glimmer Train’s Writer’s Ask, Threepenny Review and Slice. His journalism has garnered awards from the Maine and New England press associations. He was awarded the 2015 Marianne Russo Award for emerging authors from the Key West Literary Seminar. His website is joshuabodwell.com.

    Karker is president of Maine Authors and Boston Writers Publishing. She teaches marketing and publicity to authors in libraries, workshops and adult education course throughout New England. She especially enjoys “myth-busting” — sharing data and real-life experience about what really happens and can happen in the often confusing world of independent publishing.

    The workshop is the third in a series that will address the professional development needs of artists in our community. Other workshops will include:

    • Sept. 20: Panel of Businesses on Partnering Within the Community.

    • Oct. 18: Grant Writing and the Application Process.

    • Nov. .15: Marketing, Representation, and Networking.

    In effort to help us estimate the number of attendees, register by calling 992-4234 or email culturalcommission@bangormaine.gov. For information, please visit the city of Bangor website section for the Commission on Cultural Development at bangormaine.gov.