Gritty’s Art and Ale Window

Last month’s window featured works from the Annual Student Show at Wicked Illustrations Studio and Gallery with artists from local area schools and studios.

Picture1Best in Show by Charlotte Woodson, Grade 7, “Simple Song,” acrylic and ink on panel.

Picture2 The June exhibit in Gritty’s Art and Ale window features Artist Jelisa Hamilton of Moxie Origami Designs.

Healthy Neighborhoods Grant

UMVA-LA applied for our first grant.  Melanie Therrien worked serious overtime to make it all happen.  We ended up receiving $2400 (of our original request for $3000) for 6 creative crosswalks, 5 painted fire hydrants and a mural on Webb’s Market.  This grant was specific for the Tree Street neighborhood.  Some of the guidelines include working with under-represented members of our communities, working within the boundaries of the Tree Street neighborhood, making a positive impact that represents the members of the community who live in that area. Our Healthy Neighborhoods grant obligations are moving forward.  Creative crosswalks ideas were submitted at the Trash Amnesty Event and by having simple applications available at Webb’s Market and other locations.  We are also working with Take Two, a support system for youth in the area that offers woodworking skills and training for at risk youth.  These amazing people are cutting some of our crosswalk stencils.  Many of them should be ready for Public Works to pick up in the next couple of weeks. We are working with folks from Maine Community Integration assisting them with our knowledge of installing creative crosswalks, ensuring their success in their grant proposal for the Healthy Neighborhoods Grant. This grant intentionally works to offer a space for collaboration between local entities.  We are excited to collaborate with Take Two and Maine Community Integration to support the work they do as we make more public art part of our community.

Mural At Webb’s Market

The mural work is in the works.  We will most likely start with a community event so people can come out and give their thoughts about the content. We are planning to use the inspiration from a piece of artwork done by a Tree St Youth member: silhouettes of community members on a colorful background representing our diverse community. One Idea is to invite members to stand in front of a spotlight to trace their silhouettes, and we will plan other events around the creation of this public art.

Creative Crosswalks “Hotdogs” outside of a Lewiston Landmark, Simone’s Hotdogs, and “Sea Turtles” outside of Mr. Drew and his animals, too!

Picture5Chroma, our annual UMVA LA exhibit is coming up in August at Kimball Street Studios.

The 3rd annual Body Show Fundraiser to help an area artist who is struggling with health issues will be showcased during June Art walk at The Curio.


picture7We are also working on the mural being redone behind Mother India.

Art walk Lewiston Auburn is held on the last Friday of the month from May until October. L/A Arts continues to welcome artists to participate in the art walk – they can register on the art walk page of the website or can reach out to LA Arts: or 207-782-7228.

UMVA-LA, in collaboration with L/A Arts, continues to seek artists for the LA Community Galleries Project, This program aims to expand community access to visual arts to promote wellness. We are piloting the program at the Center for Wisdom’s Women in Lewiston and Chapman House in Auburn, and are in talks with a couple of other organizations to expand in July or October. In addition to exhibitions of their work in these spaces, selected artists interact with clients, residents, staff and visitors at artist receptions, gallery talks, and related art making sessions. Mary Callahan of Kimball St Studios and Melanie Therrien of Wicked Illustrations Studio and Gallery (and Co-Chair UMVA-LA), are both curating this project and can be contacted. Interested artists can also reach out to Alison Gibbs Of LA Arts at Jelisa Hamilton, the Chapman House artist, had a reception on June 2 for residents and staff. Melanie Therrien is doing a meditation and mandala workshop at Center for Wisdom’s Women sometime in June, to complement Julia Muzika’s work. Both artists will be up till the end of June.

UMVA-LA member and owner of The Curio, Sheri Withers Hollenbach, representing UMVA-LA on the Arts and Culture Lewiston Auburn Committee, is working with L/A Arts on the Maine Arts Commission grant for public art in L-A. The public art working group has met twice to discuss 1) how to establish an ongoing process for the two cities to regularly consider and add public artworks to enhance, unite and strengthen the community, 2) successful examples of public art around the country and what might work in L-A, 3) how to engage the community in this work. Public engagement projects are under consideration for art walks this season. Next working group meeting was June 4.

Art Happenings in L/A

National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant, LA Arts, and LA Metro Chamber hosted an event at the Hartley Block on May 18 to invite area artists to consider the first floor retail space of the building at 155 Lisbon St. for a possible artists’ cooperative for art making/exhibiting/selling. A variety of visual artists and community members joined the discussion, toured neighboring Lisbon St. arts-related businesses, and enjoyed networking at Bear Bones Beer. The Hartley Block developer Szanton Co. was encouraged by the turnout and is continuing to explore the idea. Interested artists can reach out to Amy Cullen, VP Szanton Co: or 207-871-1661.

Youth and Community Open Mic Nights

LA Arts is in talks with the 21st Century program of Lewiston Public Schools to continue the Youth and Community Open Mic Nights on the third Friday of every month. The first, on May 17, featured poets Kafari and Maya Williams and was well attended.

Call To Artists

Kimball Street Studios has a Call for Art for our second biennial Infinite Canvas Comic and Fantasy Illustration show, which opens on September Art Walk (9/27.) FMI Email

 UMVA-LA Reality Check

We are seriously understaffed and are having a hard time getting the work done that we would like to do with the limited time that the four of us (who organize most everything) have.  Thinking outside of the box, we are considering utilizing folks who have been previously incarcerated who have a passion for art and need volunteer hours.  This could be done through a screening process set up between probation and parole officers and UMVA-LA members.

We have also considered reformatting the way we run things and adding youth officers to our board in a way to create future leadership in the arts community and offer a way for youth voices to be heard.

We would like to evaluate the Bylaws of the UMVA parent group to see how they are formatted and if there is room for these types of additions.  Philadelphia has a wonderful social justice murals project that works with formerly incarcerated adults.  This could be a life changing experience for someone in this position.


Grayling Cunningham

UMVA-LA Co-Chair

image at top: We painted all the sandwich boards for LA Arts used for promoting art walks and other arts events!