It is pretty surreal to be the President of the Union of Maine Visual Artists (UMVA), and be the one asking you to JOIN or RENEW your MEMBERSHIP on our brand new website ( mail your check for our sliding-scale membership ($25 to $45), whatever you can afford, to: UMVA, c/o Jackie Bennett, Treasurer, PO Box 51, Walpole, ME 04573. It is a big honor to be in this position—and I am proud to ask for your support for our worthy cause.

The very first time I learned about the UMVA was at a “Bring Your War Dollars Home” Draw-A-Thon event at SPACE Gallery on Veterans Day in 2010. I saw a well-designed poster for the event on the walls of a co-op in Belfast, Maine that promised to combine art and artivism— my two passions. That weekend I drove down from Unity to Portland (it was only my second ever visit to Portland). The very first person I met was UMVA board member Natasha Mayers, who greeted me with unexpected warmth, and immediately got me set up and creating art. Former UMVA president Robert Shetterly was doing amazing portraits of veterans in the corner of the gallery. Kenny Cole was there and had a politically-charged and stunning art exhibit painted onto the walls. The entire room was filling up with drawings that were being created during the event. You can actually check out photos from the event here: It was an impressive day of art and activism (just as promised—in fact, far more than promised) and before the night was over, I think I was asked to join the UMVA seven times. After meeting such talented, driven, and passionate artists at this event, I was eager to become a member and get involved. A year later I moved to Portland, Maine.

“Occupy” happened. I joined the board of the Meg Perry Peace and Justice Center. I founded the Hidden Ladder Collective with Abbeth Russell. Then I was asked to become a board member of the UMVA: my only declaration was that if I joined I would immediately need permission to restart a branch in Portland. “DONE DEAL!” they said, proving to me it was a get-it-done kind of organization. In April 2015, we launched our first “UMVA Gallery” show called YELLOW at 516 Congress Street at the Portland Media Center (then CTN), the first of many group shows to come. In the last four years, the gallery has grown and evolved. The Portland Chapter is firing on all cylinders with 25+ regular active members at each monthly meeting. Recently we solidified our entire gallery line-up for 2020 (with a record-breaking number of proposals), and even did it with very minimal yelling. We also added Janice Moore as the new Vice President of the UMVA, replacing the incredible Natasha Mayers (who has been asking to step down for years, but we just could not let her go). John Ripton, Gregg Harper, and David Estey also joined the board this year and have done an immense amount of work (before joining the board and currently as part of the board) for the UMVA.

The year was not without its bumps, as we were sad to announce the closing of the UMVA Lewiston/Auburn chapter, especially because of the incredible leadership and events that they were putting on annually.

Yet many UMVA Projects continue to thrive:

The UMVA’s Maine Arts Journal has produced one spectacular issue after another every quarter. There is no other visual or editorial art journal like it in the state—or the region—in terms of ambition or quality. And subscriptions are free!

The Artists Rapid Response Team (ARRT!), entering its eighth year, has produced hundreds of banners and posters for an enormous range of causes and events, giving those causes immediate visual identification and support. Enthusiastic UMVA members paint the banners and can always use more help.

LumenARRT! has delighted and informed thousands of passersby with their nighttime urban projections on urgent topics ranging from Climate Change to Immigration. Some of their work has become interactive so that audiences can become part of the projections. Their savvy social media presence extends their work to a national audience.

The Maine Masters Project has released four new, award-winning documentaries in the past few years on Jon Imber, Stephen Pace, Ashley Bryan and J. Fred Woell and coming soon: ROBERT SHETTERLY: An American Who Tells the Truth. They have been shown at film festivals, major museums, and theaters all over the US and in several places around the world. New Members get a free streaming code. Please, ask for it.

We are asking three things from you.

First, we want you to be a member of OUR team: JOIN US. Please RENEW or BECOME A MEMBER.  Bring your energy and ideas to these projects. We encourage all members to come to a chapter meeting, or start a branch in your area. Ask us how.

Second, we hope you will give an additional donation. The UMVA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit so your gift is tax deductible.

A couple donation suggestions:

             $100,000: Could fund the entire UMVA for a year (we had to ask-but if you add the check we won’t need to ask again til next year)

            $1,500: Could pay the UMVA Portland Gallery rent

            $1400: Could pay for producing one issue of the Maine Arts Journal

            $400: Could pay our insurance

            $200: Could pay the curator stipend for one of our monthly shows

            $144: Could pay our annual website cost for our brand new website:

            $45: Could buy a sponsored membership for an artist who wants to join but cannot afford it.

Third, and perhaps most important, please tell friends about us and the work we are doing. Maybe even buy a UMVA membership for someone you know who will love this organization. A UMVA membership makes a great gift! With every new member, the UMVA is stronger!!

The UMVA has been connecting, supporting, and inspiring Maine artists since 1975 and, with your support, will continue to for many years to come. Many talented artists and people have been and currently are members of this organization, and we hope you will join us to continue growing the creative community in Maine!

Thank you!

William Hessian

President, UMVA


JOIN NOW or RENEW your MEMBERSHIP on our new website: .

Or mail your check TODAY ($25 to $45) to: UMVA, c/o Jackie Bennett,

Treasurer, PO Box 51, Walpole, ME 04573.