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MECA Alum Designs Kinetic Rooftop Sculpture for Coffee By Design

Posted: 2014-12-17

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On December 15th Coffee By Design on 1 Diamond Street installed and unveiled their large kinetic rooftop sculpture. Jac Ouellette who earned her BFA with honors at Maine College of Art in 2002 designed the sculpture, which was fashioned out of aluminum and steel. The sculpture weighs in at 1000 pounds and was lifted onto the roof of the building with help of a construction crew.

Coffee by Design owners Mary Allen Lindemann and Alan Spear worked closely with Ouellette to collaborate on ideas for the piece. Ouellette would put together mockups on a small scale to test the kinetic nature of the piece, and after many rounds of designs a final one was chosen. Spears spoke about the process coming together, “It’s incredible to finally see the sculpture where it was designed to stand… This project was a true collaboration between so many people who turned our dream into a reality.” Lindermann also commented on the sense of community the sculpture brings to their newest location,  “Everything we do is about our love for coffee, our coffee farmers and their families, local artists and organizations and most of all, our customers. Jac’s sculpture is the next step for Coffee By Design.”

Graphic Design Students Design A Limited Edition T-Shirt For Maine Red Claws

Posted: 2014-12-10

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Autumn Frantz, Junior in Graphic Design with Dajuan Eubanks, President of the Maine Red Claws. Photo by Michael McSweeney 

On Friday, November 21, students in Design Workshop attended the Maine Red Claws home opener. The class, taught by Professor Samantha Haedrich, spent part of the fall semester designing a t-shirt for the NBA D-League team to commemorate fans as they enter their sixth season. 

 
The group of nine junior and senior design majors met with Red Claws president Dajuan Eubanks and his marketing team throughout the process. Eubanks decided to approach the College because, “We wanted to engage the students at MECA in some real life experience to help design our opening night t-shirt that we give out. Needless to say, we were very excited about the result. The students came up with terrific and creative ideas, and responded well to our critique and input.” 
 
Each student had the opportunity to present two design concepts that embodied the idea of the fan’s representing the team's “sixth man.” The final t-shirt, designed by junior Autumn Frantz, was given away to the first 1000 fans who attended Friday’s game. It featured typography in the shape of the state of Maine, with the largest text reading: You are the Reason. Autumn said of the experience, "It was wonderful working with an organization that greatly cares about Portland's community, plus it was a valuable opportunity to work with a real client to gain experience. The icing on the cake was seeing my design on t-shirts the fans received at the game we attended.”

MECA Gets Snaps from Sharon Butler's TWO COATS OF PAINT Blog

Posted: 2014-11-24

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>> Read Sharon Butler's Full Blog on Two Coats of Paint


Snaps: A visit to Maine College of Art

 

Readers may have noticed that posting slowed down a little last week. I spent a few days up at the Maine College of Art (known as MECA) in Portland, where I gave a  presentation about my work and enjoyed visiting studios of talented graduate and undergraduate students. Business Insider recently named Portland one of the top places to travel, calling it a "funky low-key destination that prizes quality food and cutting-edge art," and I sampled both on my short trip. Amid presenting, dining, drinking, and talking with students about their projects, I managed to wedge in some visits to faculty studios. 

[Image at top: Snap of work-in-progress in Prof. Gail Spaien's campus studio. ]

 Gail Spaien, Still Life #7, 2014, acrylic on linen, 38 x 40 inches. 

Chair of the Painting Program, Spaien paints delicate, finely detailed images of flowers in vases. I'm looking forward to her March 2015 exhibition at the Anthony Giordano Gallery at Dowling College on Long Island. 


In one of the undergrad studios, I was delighted to find images of Sarah Faux's paintings tacked to the wall.
 

Each morning on my way to much-loved Marcy's Diner where a single order of bacon consists of a heaping plateful and a pancake is larger than a Frisbee, I passed this chunky Anthony Caro sculpture displayed on the lawn at the Portland Museum of Art. 

Leslie Murray, Clover Explosion, 2014, 36 x 42 inches.
 
My first faculty studio visit was with Leslie Murray, who earned her undergraduate degree from MECA in 2008, then moved to NYC where she got her Masters at NYU. Now she's back at MECA as a part-time faculty member and painting facilities manager. Her sunny studio is on the top floor of a nearby office building where space costs a mere $295 per month. She recently had a solo show at Schoolhouse Gallery in Provincetown, Massachusetts.


Murray makes objects like these black sparkly rock-like forms, which she then uses as subjects for her  paintings.

 Leslie Murray, work in progress.

I gave my presentation on Thursday afternoon to a full auditorium (thanks everyone for coming!), and was pleased to see some familiar faces. Naturally we took a few selfies. To the left is Martin Mugar, the artist and blogger who coined the term "Zombie Formalism." To the right: Mark Wethli, an old Facebook friend, also stopped by. He's on sabbatic leave from his teaching position at Bowdoin College this semester.



Here is Prof. Honour Mack's spacious studio in the renovated attic of an old Victorian house. She, too, is on sabbatical, and has just started wrestling with a new series of abstract paintings that engage the circle inside the square. Some of her older work on paper is on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Portland through December 22.


Working horizontally on a tabletop, she pours fluid paint and lets it pool and blend in unexpected ways.


Maine is a good place to buy warm boots. Plenty of styles are on view at Reny's, a discount department store that specializes in hunting and adventure gear, right next door to MECA. If you need Carhartt or camouflage, this is the place. MECA's spacious, elegant building, on the main street in downtown Portland, was once a department store.


I visited grad student Tessa O'Brien at a building that used to house a restaurant. She paints murals on the outside and uses the inside to mix her paints and prepare her spray gun. The restaurant owner used to have copies of his favorite paintings made in China. Here's a Frida Kahlo portrait (above) that still hangs in the restroom.

 One iteration of Tessa's building.


Professor Philip Brou works in a well-organized basement studio located very near Winslow Homer's studio at Prouts Neck. Brou (pronounced "brew") has been working on a series of paintings that depict actors who play extras in movies and on TV shows. He contacts talent agencies in NYC, chooses the actors and actresses from head shots, then sets up photo shoots in the city. The photographs become the basis for his remarkable paintings.


Brou's solitary figures surrounded by a rich black paint remind me of NYC painter Matthew Miller's self-portraits, although Miller's work seems more rooted in American colonial painting while Brou's recall the flat existentialism of late1960s photorealism.


Another MECA faculty member who is working on interesting projects is art historian, curator, and Fluxer Chris Stiegler. His two main projects are Town Hall Meeting and The Institute for American Art, a curatorial project that he maintains in his Portland living room. Currently Stiegler has an installation by Sebastian Black on view (pictured above).


When I visited the Portland Museum of Art, I was greeted by large-scale Katherine Bradford, Alex Katz, and Chris Martin paintings in the lobby. Further inside,  I found other gems, including Storm, a juicy 1996-97 painting by Sir Howard Hodgkin in the "Treasures of British Art" exhibition.


In the Early American wing, which had recently been rehung, I found many sublime landscape paintings by Fitz Henry Lane, Frederick Edwin Church, and their talented cohort, as well as this little charmer, The Letter, an 1837 painting by Amasa Hewins. Doesn't it look like a colonial rendition of a Vermeer?

The Business Insider is correct about both the art scene and Portland's fantastic culinary culture. The MECA crew took me to Empire Chinese Kitchen, which specializes in Dim Sum, and Caiola's Restaurant, which features inventive cooking with locally grown ingredients. I highly recommend both.

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Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. For permission to use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

Faculty Spotlight on Art Education (MAT) Chair, Fern Tavalin

Posted: 2014-11-24

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Faculty Profile

Fern Tavalin, Professor of Art Education

 

How did you get from a B.A. degree in Economics from Franklin & Marshall to being a professor in the field of Art Education at MECA?

F&M is a liberal arts college. So, while my major was economics, I took several fine arts, language arts and foreign language classes. I especially enjoyed the sculpture studio and metal sculpting in particular. Also, I lived in Belgium and attended a Flemish high school for one year, with a heavy emphasis on aesthetics. The year after I graduated my college built a state-of-the-art photo lab and extended its use to alumni. There, I found a life-long love for photography and subsequently video.

 

What is the most challenging teaching experience you have had? What did you learn from it?

The toughest challenge I had as a teacher was analyzing student performance in social studies and realizing that my methods did not work. It was with that awareness that I turned to integrated arts and hands-on learning. I still required essay exams, so the tests did not change, but my method of teaching and learning shifted radically. As a result, student learning and engagement improved dramatically. From this experience I became an active proponent of arts integration and project-based learning.

 

Much of your professional life has been dedicated to the use of technology. Studio art classes, currently, are tactile experiences. Do you see any change in this facet of art education in the future? Are campuses becoming irrelevant?

Your question begins with a common, mistaken assumption. My approach to technology is to use tactile processes alongside virtual experiences. For instance, when I designed technology-based summer institutes, they included workshops in book arts so that there was literal copying and pasting alongside the virtual. I stressed stop-motion animation so that students could still learn about the properties of clay and other materials along with the subtlety of movement that stop-motion requires. Artists worked with teachers to build plaster body casts to project words from found poetry, generated from personal narratives. These skills and processes, when used in tandem with planning items such as sketching and storyboarding, foster the type of critical thinking and problem solving that embody new standards for student learning. Are campuses irrelevant? It depends upon how they are used. Our MAT candidates need on-site mentoring for the first semester. Student teaching is another matter, though. This year, we sent three people out of state, one as far away as San Francisco.  Given the current state of telecommunication, distance supervision works, and having classroom experiences in other locations enhances seminar discussions.

>>Learn More About Our MAT Program

Chloe Beaven and Caitlin Ervin Public Engagement Fellows for 2014-2015

Posted: 2014-10-23

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Senior Chloe Beaven and junior Caitlin Ervin are the Public Engagement Fellows for 2014-2015. Sophomore Hannah Howard is the Project Assistant. They will receive a financial scholarship and academic credit to design and lead projects and initiatives that focus on building relationships between campus and community. The fellowship is supported with a grant from the Helen and George Ladd Foundation.

Chloe Beaven, a senior in the New Media program, will be partnering with MECA, Seeds of Peace, and Waynflete School in order to increase understanding and support of diversity (especially issues involving race), elevate and further contemplative dialog, and broaden student civic responsibility at MECA. Her projects will include implementing the Big Think Series, monthly dialogs hosted by an artist or academic within the field of socially engaged art or social justice; revitalizing the MECA C.A.R.E diversity group; inviting high school students to work on the Other Side of Shade workshops with the Seeds of Peace students, and develop an annual student exhibit focusing on issues of race; establishing the VIP Vote, an annual early Vote Day at MECA; and increasing programming around MLK day and the attendance at the MLK Breakfast.

Caitlin Ervin, a junior in the Sculpture program, will be partnering with Environment Maine and the MECA Trash Talkers group to focus on environmental projects and sustainability within MECA and the Portland community. Her projects will include assisting with community partner logistics and taking on leadership for Envisioning a Sustainable Society with Professor Dana Sawyer; partnering with and assisting with group projects in Paul Gebhardt's FY-IN class; and co-leading and coordinating environmental programs in MECA's residence halls.

Hannah Howard, an undeclared Sophomore, is also partnering with Environment Maine to work on environmental projects and sustainability within MECA and the Portland community. She will be assisting with all of Caitlin Ervin's projects, in addition to continuing her role as a Resident Assistant in MECA's residence halls.

The Public Engagement program has several community partners, including: Portland Trails, The Island Institute, Bicycle Coalition of Maine, Environment Maine, Camp Susan Curtis, Portland Brick, Avesta Housing, King Middle School, and Seeds of Peace. There are also three Senior Capstone Project Partners, including Planned Parenthood, Waynflete School's Racial Awareness student group, and Portland Brick. Jon Rubin will also be a visiting artist for Public Engagement.

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