Just the idea that an individual would intentionally destroy
a large work of art — even taking the parts and disposing of them — is
It is also troubling that there were not sufficient legal or professional resources for the artist to develop an appropriately robust response. From there, the ultimate outcome failed the artist in terms of justice.
These are very serious issues. It is upsetting to bear
witness to a criminal episode with such an unsatisfying outcome. It is positive
that Ms. Bouchard has found she can move on and relate her story so eloquently,
but it’s not enough. This should never happen again! It is concerning that Volunteer
Lawyers for the Arts has disbanded, so the Editorial Board is asking that you
email us or post here in the comments section if you know of legal resources or
attorneys who have skills in areas such as VARA (Visual Artists Rights Act of
1990), copyright, destruction of property (i.e. art), First Amendment (free
speech), or other topics relating specifically to the visual arts. If we get a
sufficient response, we will add it to the MAJ. Thank you.
This letter —a part our national dialogue— dated June 11, 2018, was signed by numerous members of the creative community and sent to our Senators and Representatives.
Dear Senators King and Collins and Representatives Pingree and Poliquin,
By now I’m no stranger to you, and you know my story. However, I’m not here today to talk about kidney disease. I’m here today to talk about one of the downstream effects of the cannibalization of the ACA and the latest assault on the protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions. I’m joined in my appeal by many of my colleagues and friends.
I am a writer and an editor. I came to Maine to raise my children and do my work because, like so many other creative people, I dreamed of having a modest life that would inspire my art. I needed to live in a place I cared deeply about; that is intensely beautiful; that has some space where one can think. In doing so, I joined a community of people that wanted the same and who have performed feats of amazing financial and artistic gymnastics to stay here. Much is being made these days of Maine’s “creative economy;” but have you stopped for a moment to think about what it takes for an artist to actually live here: the true cost of being one of those creatives in a state that offers very little in terms of grants, sponsorship, incentives, and regular work?
My definition of artists includes those of us who get up everyday to generate new and exciting ideas and projects: they are painters and poets, chefs and gardeners, writers and directors, musicians, craftspeople, actors, ceramicists, curators, publishers, designers, printmakers, playwrights, dancers, journalists, architects, and photographers We move into run-down neighborhoods (the only ones we can afford) and transform them with our ingenuity and “can-do” spirit—the same optimism that keeps us here when larger population centers offer a greater audience and more pay—and we love it, because making things is what we do. And making them in Maine is important to us. There is a long history of artistic endeavor in this state and to be a part of that continuum is an honor. As devalued as creative work often is here, especially at the emerging and mid-levels, we stay because we know what E.B. White (who suffered his whole life from Generalized
Anxiety Disorder, a pre-existing condition) says is true: “I’d rather feel bad in Maine, than feel good anywhere else.”
But staying is increasingly harder. It’s one thing to watch our project fees and book advances dwindle, to compete for fewer and fewer jobs, to watch with a stomach ache as the current administration reduces funding to the arts and letters. It’s a whole other thing to be helpless as Congress sits back and allows this current administration to gut access to affordable healthcare and challenge over and over again the protections for pre-existing conditions. Disease does not care if you are Republican or Democrat, a grandparent, parent or a child, a banker or a bread maker. It crosses all constructs and it kills. Allowing this administration to run roughshod over the people of this nation, and in particular your old, sick, opioid-addicted, depressed state, is a cynical move that will bankrupt the creative economy in Maine and its future. I, like many others with life-threatening diseases and genetic conditions, will not be able to stay. The luckier ones will take their skills and tax dollars and join the flight of our young people to states that are less punitive. The less lucky will go broke or choose to forgo treatment and suffer or die. You will end up representing a state on life-support.
Creative people rely on non-traditional career paths—the same paths that led many of us to Maine. We often do not have employer-based healthcare plans. Those of us who do have day jobs are frequently found in media and small businesses that don’t offer benefits; but more often than not, we are gig people: the freelancers, the self-employed. Maine has the highest rate of unincorporated self-employed workers in the country, at 11.2% at a median salary of $21,196 per year. And we, the gig workers, are the ones with the genius to create the spaces, the technology, the restaurants, the magazines, the festivals, the plays, the movies, the exhibits, the concerts, the books, the songs, the creative writing centers, the artisanal products, and the fine art and crafts that have historically made Maine a cultural place where people want to live and raise their families. We are what makes Maine more than lobsters and lighthouses.
ARRT! We Hardworking Mainers, 2018.
If you want us to be able to live here and do our jobs, please do yours. Oppose in every way possible, every single time, the efforts of the current administration to gut the ACA and the protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
State of the Studio What an artist does daily matters. The continuity of a steady studio practice is a place of invention and exploration, as—or more important than—putting on a show. We asked the artists in this issue to tell us “What are you doing? What are you making?” Are you staying on a course you have long ago established or have you recently started working in a new medium? Are you suddenly working very large or getting small? Have figures emerged or has your work been consumed with geometry? Have you added color, or moved into monochromes? Does the outside world affect your studio life, or is your interior life reflected in your art? And was there a reason— or was it a whim— that brought you to your current direction? Featured artist, Meghan Brady shares her experiences in studio residencies and scale. A studio visit with Ron Crusan explores his work, neighborhood and influences. John Bisbee talks about his new politically-charged art. Beth Wittenberg shares her thoughts on consumption, throw-away people, and being without a studio. Pat Wheeler writes about how we can restore ourselves in troubled times. Sarah Stites reveals how drawing is her lifeline to her work. Sondra Bogdonoff writes about how her weaving is augmented and informed by painting and drawing. Tom Flanagan tells us that drawing connects him to the world and his sensibilities. Jim Chute shares his Conversations series and foreshadows our fall theme: Dialogue. Member contributors include Sandy Olson who gets back into her studio and finds new inspiration. And Ruth Sylmor, Ken Kohl, Pamela Grumbach,Judith Allen-Efstathiou, Michelle Leier, Amy Pollien, Alanna Hernandez all share their art, thoughts and inspirations about the State of the Studio.
Janice Moore shares an account of her experience curating what became the USM-LA Censorship story, and we include with it excerpts from letters written by John Ripton and Robert Shetterly with an essay on the topic by Dan Kany, and the National Coalition Against Censorship’s statement about the incident.
Regular contributor Edgar Beem writes about artists’ studios he has known. Dan Kany describes Henry Isaacs’ studio filled with brushes and small canvas “notes”.
Jane Bianco, Farnsworth Museum curator writes about the 19th century portraitist and landscape painter, James Hope. Sarah Bouchard joins us as a guest contributor and interviews Michael Mansfield, the new executive director and chief curator of the Ogunquit Museum of American Art about his personal artistic practice.
Dietlind Vander Schaaf contributes an essay from her place of inner contemplation and asks other artists what they are working on.
Our regular Poetry Feature introduced by Betsy Sholl presents poems by Christian Barter and Dawn Potter. Other regular features include: Insight/Incite about Krisanne Baker’s water activist residency in Malawi.
Richard Kane of Maine Masters talks about how he’d like to see those films used in the schools. ARRT! makes more banners, LumenARRT! makes more projections, Portland and Lewiston UMVA chapters present reports. The issue is full of many essays and artists to meet and explore, so find a porch, a hammock, or an armchair by a fire and curl up with the Maine Arts Journal on a fine, or foggy summer day!
From the editors,
Natasha Mayers, Dan Kany, Jessica Myer, Nora Tryon, Kathy Weinberg
Our theme for the Spring 2018 Maine Arts Journal Issue is Origin Stories.
We asked you to tell us the stories you tell of yourself, to share who you are, and how you got here. The thoughtful responses have taken on those questions in varied and individual ways.
Our Feature Artists include Alice Spencer and her Katanga series, informed from the collection of patterned materials gathered from her travels, and which influence her work. Anna Mikuscova shares her black and white photographs and personal journey. Clare Morin reflects on places where she has lived and written about the arts, from England to Hong Kong and Maine. Gigi Aea starts his essay and his journey from an ancient culture and cultured family legacy. Susan Drucker’s delicate yet fully present drawings are a re-imagined family photo album, an alternate history. Included are the beautiful artbooks of Cynthia Ahlstrin, a family portrait by Juliet Karelsen, and more.
Regular contributor, Ed Beem, shares his self-portrait as an arts writer, an aesthetic journey with family and friends. Frequent contributor, and author, Carl Little writes about the extraordinary gift his Uncle William Kienbusch gave him. Contributing MAJ editor, Kathy Weinberg writes about the painter Martin Wong’s retrospective, that ties into a family history and a road trip. Dan Kany is in the Critics Corner with a story of his own vision.
In conjunction with this issue, and narrowing the lens of the topic more specifically to Immigration, Kifah Abdulla (Portland poet, artist from Iraq), Titi De Baccarat (Portland artist from Gabon) and John Ripton (writer, photographer and historian from Maine) have curated a show of the work by Portland area immigrants around the theme of “Migration Experience.”
Included also is a portfolio of images from 12 artists in the Camden Library, and Jonathan Frost Gallery Show “Migration Stories.”
Julie Poitros Santos writes about an upcoming show at ICA MECA: TRACES, TRACKS, and PATHWAYS: Making Migration Visible.
In our Members’ Showcase we welcome Maggie Muth, Lesia Sochor, and Clara Cohan who share their art and stories, and the editors share some highlights of members’ essays.
We have regular features, Insight/Incite: Jane Page-Conway on skateboards, and a poem by Craig Sipe introduced by Betsy Sholl. And a Special feature: Mirlea Saks contributes an essay on Nancy Davidson, the dynamic curator of the Maine Jewish Museum, who has helped shape the art scene in Portland.
Look to the “submit” page for our Theme and Invitation for Summer 2018: State of the Studio: Tell us what you are making and what you are doing. Follow the guidelines for submission.
And now to the issue—Enjoy!
From the editors, Dan Kany, Natasha Mayers, Jessica McCarthy, Nora Tryon, Kathy Weinberg
Wishing all of our readers a good start to this New Year and glad to have you as a part of our ever-evolving arts community in Maine.
For our Winter 2018 issue the theme InnerVisions has been interpreted in a wide variety of ways through the eyes of many artists. Meant to be an exploration of concepts ranging from Jungian insights to a general state of mental and physical/material health as translated through the vast territories of the imagination.
This issue contains Essays and visual essays from the colorful animal world of Eva Goetz, the ethereal, hyperborean map world of Alison Hildreth, and explore the mind and art of Alan Crichton. Take a voyage with Carl Little who writes on Robert Neuman’s “Ship to Paradise”, a series which depicts a ‘Ship of Fools’ on a fraught journey, as a metaphor for the human condition. Join Ethan Hayes-Chute as he goes “deep into the couch cushions, pulling out long-lost, temporarily forgotten nuggets of past ideas.”
We encounter Joseph Ascrizzi in his “Garden of Entropy,“ combining exquisite craftsmanship with a deep philosophy, Sarah Hewitt brings us her serious play with vibrant weavings, and Vic Goldsmith tries “not to think about anything” while working on his jazz-inspired improvisations. Included is an insightful essay by Dr. Nancy Coyne, the“Insight/incite” column by Portland Culture Exchange, and many of our regular features, such as ARRT!’s latest banners and poetry selected by Betsy Sholl.
The Maine Arts Journal was honored in December by a merit grant from the Rabkin Foundation for Art Writing. The grant has been partially put towards upgrading the Maine Arts Journal’s tech security structure, allowing us to reinstate our comments feature. The grant also allows us to improve and maintain the site in general. One new feature is a request to “Support MAJ!” While the subscription is still free, support is welcome.
Many artists were drawn to Maine for a more rural, small town/small city experience, space to work, and time in their studios. Those very features, while alluring, can also breed isolation and disconnection. The Union of Maine Visual Artists works to build a network and provide a forum for artists that supplements the different interests and functions of the galleries and larger institutions across the State. The Maine Arts Journal, as a key component of the Union, acts as a voice and a visual library for the Arts in Maine. Supporting the Maine Arts Journal is like giving a micro grant to a large, diverse group of artists throughout the state. Much of the work is done on a voluntary basis, or for nominal pay. Your support will help us afford the technical and material help we need to ensure that we can maintain what we have built so far and continue to develop.
And now to the Winter 2018 issue, please enjoy!
from the editors Natasha Mayers, Nora Tryon, Daniel Kany, Jessica McCarthy, Kathy Weinberg
Since I began the Events/News and Newsletter pages of the Maine Arts Journal, I have also been marking off spam. Last week I emptied the folder at 2,500 plus entries, and after a weekend off there were 250 more to catch up with! I have seen into a gyre of mind-scrambling proportions. Vast distortions of reality threaten to engulf, enmesh and hobble my time and thoughts as I delete, delete and delete.
I woke up this morning at 2am knowing I would not get back to sleep. There is a war on. A war of words that are being puked out by drunk computers from the mind’s dungeon where writers of propaganda meet and mash up with algorithms and endlessly create fictitious names and accounts, attaching toxic links. Even worse is the some times rational voice that emerges and may find a soft landing in someone’s heart or mind. Earworms, heart strings, viral memes are being bombarded at our inbox. There are ominous rants from Holocaust deniers, men who want to boycott American women and promote third world sex slaves. There are messages in many languages, pages of characters directly from the tower of Babel. Some is computer gibberish, strings of brand names, random sentences and live links. There are awkward translations, broken English, robot English, praising the content of our small Arts Journal Blog site, promising to bookmark us and return. This compliment sounds like a threat.
Yesterday I brought this report to my team and we weighed the options. We decided to terminate the comments feature and cut ourselves free from the entanglement.
At 1800 hours I received this message:
“I took a deep breath and installed the plug-in to disable all comments. It means we lost the good ones from Spring too… I hope it works ok.”
Perhaps I will sleep better now, but I can still hear the distant clicking of keys, like the mandibles of an ant army scuttling over leaf and rock, streaming into my devices. Blocked, for now, by a thin veil of technology but there and just waiting for an opportunity, the slightest slip.
Then, before dawn, this note arrived from a friend.
“Somehow I keep thinking of this lately,” they said. It was a quote from Thucydides, an Athenian historian and general who chronicled the war between Sparta and Athens in the year 411 BC.
“The regular meaning of words changed to fit the state of affairs. Insane risk was now bravery for an ally; careful forethought was cowardice; moderation was considered an excuse for being unmanly; circumspection was an unwillingness to commit; heedless attacks was termed manly behavior, and self-defense was a bland excuse for conspiracy.
The one seeking extreme action was considered trustworthy; anyone who spoke against him was suspicious. If you were a successful conspirator, you were smart; you were clever if you discovered a conspiracy. But if you made provisions against either situation, you risked dividing your party and living in fear of your opponents. It was simply the same whether you stopped someone from doing wrong or you discovered a new opportunity for wrongdoing.” Thucydides
Day is emerging now from night, the half moon setting, and Antares no longer visible. The sun will rise, and day will come. The day will come.
In many ways, that day is already here.