Our Union of Maine Visual Artists Chapter of Lewiston Auburn group has had an amazing run of almost three years with many wonderful community events and artist talks that have been inspiring and educational! It is with great regret that we are going to be dissolving our chapter. The four major organizers—myself (Grayling Cunningham), Melanie Therrien, Sheri Withers Hollenbeck, and Kate Cargile—have been doing much of the work for our chapter and at this time we just don’t have the capacity to continue as we have.
Honoring our own needs for self-care, our busy lives, our commitments to work, family, friends, and to ourselves we have come to the conclusion that this is something we cannot continue as is. It is not sustainable. As much as we love what we have accomplished as a group, we realize that the cost is beyond what we are able to continue, to make it successful and something we are proud to call ours. I especially assume some of this due to my own inability to be present and supportive of the needs of my own team; I have just not been able to offer more. We all have other facets of our lives that need our attention. Prioritizing is often so difficult and complicated. We leave folks feeling abandoned and alone when we are not able to offer our support, and then when there is nothing to offer, because our plate is empty, what do we do? This is part of our decision to end as we are. We want to do things right, we want to do things to our best ability and we are unable to in the way that we have been. We recognize this and swallow this big pill and move forward to the best of our ability.
We will be merging our Facebook page to the Downtown Lewiston Arts District page so as not to lose the memories we have created. On that note, the work we are doing will not end completely but reformat as something new. Melanie Therrien of Wicked Illustrations Studio and Gallery will be finishing up our work for the murals on Webb’s Market as part of our Healthy Neighborhoods grant. She will also be a part of continuing the creative crosswalks and painted fire hydrants, as that is part of our grant commitment. Melanie is the driving force behind this grant work and wants to see it through. We are truly grateful for her commitment and dedication to the arts in our community!
Webb’s Market mural project
Sponsored by a grant from Healthy Neighborhoods, and part of Growing our Tree Streets, our Paint Day was held on September 7th at Webb’s Market, 131 Pine Street, Lewiston. The attached image with the silhouettes is by artist Djamal Moldoum, and was our inspiration for the mural. We painted in the color blocks, and did some tracing of silhouettes of community members, and on paint day community members painted them in. On another section of Webb’s we also have a version of the Growing our Tree Streets logo with the word community inside with “unity” highlighted.
O/O Wicked Illustrations Studio and Gallery
140 Canal St.
Lewiston, ME 04240
Dedicated to the education, creation and enjoyment of art.
UMVA-LA Final Exhibit at Kimball St Studios: Chroma
Our Final UMVA-LA exhibit was Chroma, our annual exhibit at Kimball St. Studios for the August Art Walk. It was well attended and received a great response!
We appreciate the opportunity to be part of the UMVA and can’t thank you enough for all the support that you have offered. We look forward to a future relationship with the UMVA and have so much gratitude for all that together we have made happen.
Grayling Cunningham UMVA-LA Co Chair
All photos by Gary Stallsworth
Some messages from UMVA members to Lewiston-Auburn chapter:
Sorry to hear about the decision to end UMVA-LA—if I only had time to join in more, I’d love to be part of sending in the cavalry! Is there anything else UMVA can do to support continuing?
The group has come so far from that first meeting I saw! Thank you so much for all that you’ve done. UMVA-LA adds dynamic life to Lewiston/Auburn and would be missed!
We can’t let you go! Such a jewel you are. Just cut back to doing half as much. Just do what you love doing, whether it is the artist talks, or one public project, etc.
We can put out a call in the journal for HELP and RESCUE or whatever you think is best.
We love all that you have been doing and the spirit in which you have done it.
We think you are GREAT, and are so grateful for all your leadership and hard work.
Grayling, Melanie, Kate and Sheri,
The work that you have done with the UMVALA chapter has been incredible, and deserves a lot of attention and praise. UMVALA has not only been a huge impact on the LA area for artists and the community, but your group has also done a lot to inspire other UMVA members around the state. I am really sad to hear that the chapter is dissolving. I am proud of all the things that you were able to accomplish and hope that UMVA can still be part of your lives going forward at least in some capacity. I really enjoyed meeting you all and hope we can stay in touch.
We are full of artists in every nook and cranny of this big state and our membership is growing. The sense of community that UMVA gives me is vitally important. Real people gathering together in real time for art. It’s that simple and I know I’m not alone in my feelings around it. We would love to hear insights from members to have a better understanding of how to help and be supportive to those interested in forming chapters in their own communities.