The UMVA Board of Directors held a second management retreat on 28 October at the Caldbeck Gallery in Rockland for an aggressive, day-long discussion of a detailed strategic plan for 2024. With forward momentum, the board approved:
- Belfast painter David Estey as president and Harpswell painter Joanne Tarlin as vice-president to lead an exciting new direction.
- By-law updates setting board and officer terms at a renewable three years.
- A simplified Mission Statement: “The UMVA advocates for Maine art and artists to promote the common good.”
- A new slogan: “UMVA: Artists Helping Artists”
- A limited production of T-shirts with the UMVA logo
In other board changes, outgoing president, William Hessian, and outgoing vice-president, Janice L. Moore, have remained on the board as directors. Joanne Tarlin has relinquished her role as convener of the Portland chapter to co-conveners Christine Sullivan (board member) and Kelly A. Maines. Daniel Sipe has reluctantly resigned from the board because of the accelerating demands of his Lights Out Gallery project in Norway. Marci Spier had joined the board as treasurer but determined that the required duties were not a good fit for her and decided to step down. John Patrick Mullen*, retired Belfast entrepreneur, has agreed to serve as treasurer for a year.
The primary purpose of the October board retreat was to approve and personally commit to a strategic plan with seven pillar initiatives: Camaraderie, Exhibitions, Advocacy, Communications, Outreach, Management and Funding. Under each initiative are enabling objectives and specific actions to accomplish them.
This is the first and foremost impetus of the revitalized organization—to place a new emphasis on the slogan, “Artists Helping Artists”. The goal is to encourage artists to gather in mutual support around the state. It calls for meet-and-greet demos, artist talks, critiques, discussion salons, and studio visits with admired peers.
The UMVA Gallery in the Portland Media Center has been vacated since part of the goal is to establish and grow quality permanent and temporary exhibition opportunities for UMVA members statewide. Last fall, a special committee led by Secretary Richard Kane evaluated the Portland gallery and looked at viable exhibit alternatives. He reported the committee findings and recommendations at the October retreat. Because of limited hours and conditions, a near doubling of the rent, and a cost/benefit ratio of six to one at the Gallery, the board decided to close the Gallery after the curated November members’ exhibit Water, and seek alternative exhibit opportunities. Richard met with the PMC director in order to leave on good terms, and UMVA will encourage individual artists/groups to negotiate exhibiting there on their own. UMVA has established a permanent committee to revise and improve guidance and procedures to insure quality exhibition opportunities, and it has already held a December “Winter Holiday Art Fair” adjacent to the Portland Museum of Art. It featured the work of seventeen members and was organized by Joanne Tarlin and Judy Greene-Janse.** The Mid-Coast and Portland Chapters also have continued a number of exhibit opportunities. In this issue, MAJ is publishing the first of four instructive articles on exhibiting, How to Show Your Work. With closure of the UMVA Gallery at PMC, the role of dedicated volunteer gallery manager Amy Bellezza*** remains to be seen.
The goal is to maintain effective management, funding and growth of Artists’ Rapid Response Team! (ARRT!), LumenARRT!, Maine Arts Journal and Maine Masters series, as the projects that lead UMVA advocacy. Detailed plans for ARRT! and LumenARRT! call for expansion, outreach to diverse and disadvantaged groups, partnerships with other entities, sustainability, continued professionalism, promotion of Maine artists, promotional help to nonprofits working for the common good, and support for UMVA.
The Journal will continue to present the concerns, dreams, and work of artists in their own words; reflect the extraordinary breadth and depth of Maine arts; and acknowledge the professionalism and importance of all artists in our society. The Maine Masters project will continue screenings of the Truth Tellers to more than a hundred schools, libraries and museums already, and PBS distribution to all US affiliates through 2025. It will promote to schools and colleges the new film on UMVA founder “Carlo (Pittore) . . . and his Merry Band of Artists,” already accepted in two European film festivals. It will complete a film on recently—deceased Maine/New York artist Yvonne Jacquette, and offer free, monthly screenings of twenty Maine Master films with discussion by artists and filmmakers.
The UMVA advocacy projects are led by Natasha Mayers, Anita Clearfield, Nora Tryon, and Richard Kane, who was introduced in the fall issue.
The goal is to establish effective, interactive, statewide communications with UMVA members, other Maine visual artists, arts supporters, and the general public. This includes consistent, effective communications, branding with a family of promotional products, taking full advantage of social media, and a series of short video endorsements as our 50th anniversary approaches. For a small monthly stipend, Greg Burns, our recently departed webmaster, has agreed to continue managing the website while exploring an updated, alternative system. Additional issues of the online newsletter have been developed and emailed directly to members. A UMVA calling card has been developed for the leadership, and a half-page UMVA ad with a similar look including the logo, slogan and member benefits has been negotiated with Maine Gallery + Studio Guide for next year’s edition, along with reduced-cost, companion ads for twenty members over three pages.
The goal is to reach out to untapped, potential members Statewide and establish and grow partnerships with art institutions, art schools, nonprofit art organizations, community groups and businesses throughout Maine for mutual benefit and support. It will start with a welcome message from the president and personal phone calls from board member Christine Sullivan to all new members, following late fall appeals from the president to the membership and MAJ subscribers. The messages reflect the board decision to keep the fee at a low, sliding scale of $25 – $45 to encourage membership, and an offer of free membership to full-time art students for help with exhibitions. There are plans to engage established, well-known artists and partner with art centers and nonprofits, art schools and galleries. The president has held productive talks with the Maine Arts Commission, Waterfall Arts, groups of artists, and a chapter interest in Presque Isle to explore areas of coordination and mutual support.
The goal is to lead and grow an effective, efficient, and sustainable nonprofit organization dedicated to Maine art and artists. A dozen specific actions seek to assure adherence to by-laws, fiscal responsibility, procedural controls, member communications, and transparency. An annual membership meeting is tentatively planned for early spring next year and a 50th anniversary jubilee for 2025. Criteria for evaluating all projects and initiatives has been developed and implemented, and periodic progress reports will keep the membership and the public informed. A plan to establish a paid executive-director position was postponed until the organization is in a better position to justify and fund it.
The goal is to become financially self-sufficient through increased memberships, donations, commissions, exhibit sales, fundraisers, and ongoing/reliable grants from community-minded entities. UMVA already benefits greatly from grants supporting special projects. It needs to be more cost/benefit conscious with all initiatives and more aggressively creative in exploring these other revenue sources, including support from the business community. The president has applied for a $7500 operations grant from the Maine Arts Commission to help with exhibit alternatives and website improvements. Recipients are to be announced in late January.
After a full scholarship at Colby College, new treasurer Pat Mullen worked in the Boston insurance industry before returning to Belfast to open Mullen’s General Store and begin a fifty-year career as owner/operator of several businesses and rental properties in Bar Harbor, Ellsworth and Belfast. Including The Barn ice cream shop/restaurant/bar, two Christmas shops, and Belfast Bay Brewery. He will bring experienced business acumen and successful marketing ideas to the board. Instead of the customary $3,000 a year stipend as payment for UMVA bookkeeping, Pat has requested payment in member art of his choice—up to that amount. If the work he selects costs more, he would pay the difference. UMVA would buy the piece(s), gift the art to Pat and pay the artist(s) the commercial price minus the usual UMVA 25% commission. That way, everybody wins.
“Friday the sale was jammed with art lovers and neighbors excited to see artists in the neighborhood. Saturday a steady stream of shoppers and art enthusiasts who read articles about the event came by. Many groups of pedestrians looked in the windows and came in. Purchases were steady. Younger artists came to find out about UMVA and were eager to learn how artists can get their work into the public’s view.” (Joanne Tarlin)
Recent UMVA Gallery manager Amy Bellezza is a Portland fine-art photographer who managed the former exhibit space for the past three and a half years. She enjoyed meeting “so many of the great and talented artists from all over the state,” answering their questions, instructing them on procedures, evaluating exhibit proposals, seeing the variety of their work and planning the Biennial members exhibit. She studied photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York, also at the Maine Media Workshops and was privately mentored by Ralph Hassenpflug. She worked for the Image Bank, Ltd., the Stock Market Photo Agency, Inc. and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, where she was a paralegal. The board recognizes and appreciates the long hours and hard work she has already contributed.
Image at top: crowd gathers by the paintings of member Nancy Grice at the UMVA Holiday Sale.