The members’ Open Show in June was a significant success. It had a few hundred visitors, as did most of UMVA Gallery’s online shows. Amy Bellezza organized and curated the exhibition. The July show, organized and curated by David Estey and Greg Burns, exhibited work by artists from Mid-Coast Maine. It was a beautiful show of diverse media and was the first wholly in-gallery exhibition since February 2019.

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Visitors at the UMVA Gallery show, Art Matters in July.

The Kneeling Art Photography Project was a very engaging August show. More than 80 images and 10 photographers participated in the project. The images represented various Maine communities, from community activists and immigrant groups to long-time Maine residents and the business community. The images were accompanied by statements of the reasons individual participants kneeled.

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Young girl taking a knee during the show at the UMVA Gallery.

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Titi De Baccarrat, with others involved in the Kneeling Art Photography Project.

The September–October show is Freedom & Captivity: Maine Voices Beyond Prison Walls. The work in this show is by inmates of Maine State Prison, now in Warren. Some of the work comes from women and youth in other state correctional facilities. The dramatic eagle taking flight and a “butterfly barrel” are in the front window of the Gallery and have already attracted much attention. More than 50 works are in the show, including fiber art, acrylic paintings, wood sculpture, and furniture. The exhibition is part of the statewide campaign Freedom & Captivity to inform and elevate the public dialogue about systemic racism and incarceration. Here is a link to learn more about the campaign. Jan Collins of the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Project and intern Olivia Hochstadt are the principal curators of the show, assisted by John Ripton.


CBS Morning News Sunday camera crew setting up for host Nancy Giles to interview co-curators Jan Collins and Olivia Hochstadt about the Sept.-Oct. exhibition Freedom and Captivity: Maine Voices Beyond Prison Walls.


Anonymous art at the Freedom and Captivity exhibit.

Amy Bellezza volunteered to assume the responsibilities of action gallery manager. (UMVA Portland is seeking a person who would support themselves in managing the gallery through grants.)

After being the gallery manager through the first year and several months of the COVID pandemic, Arthur Nichols stepped down. Members expressed their appreciation of Arthur’s work during this critical year and a half.

The UMVA Portland group added all UMVA members to its mailing list. Many announcements and opportunities for showing at the UMVA Gallery @ PMC are some of the services that this emailing list provides to all members.

With the help of Joyce Ellen Weinstein and others, Jen Joaquin led the effort to edit and streamline the curator/exhibitor packet. This packet provides exhibitors with press contacts, press release models, and much more, enabling any curator or exhibitor to position and effectively promote a show.

The Portland UMVA group continues to expand its use of social media, especially Facebook promotion of shows. Jen Joaquin manages the posting of show announcements to Facebook.

At the July meeting, John Ripton reminded the group that his tenure as convener of the Portland UMVA group will end in March. Members are encouraged to consider assuming the convener office. Though John will have served three terms in March, the expectation is that a convener’s term is a single year.

The August meeting was a Zoom meeting. We had considered holding it outside in Portland’s Freedom Plaza, but it was thought too risky at the time. The September meeting is also a Zoom meeting. It will be 6–7:30 pm on 20 September, the third Monday of the month.


Image at top: Eagle by an anonymous artist, displayed in the window at the UMVA Gallery in Portland.