Portland Artists Liven Up Downtown Street Closures
Street Barricades by Angela Adams brighten the closure on Exchange Street at Milk Street
We joined forces with the City of Portland to beautify several street closure barricades downtown. Five local artists were hired to add friendly arts messaging on the barricades, brightening the safety features and furthering the City’s COVID-19 public health messaging. The artists include Angela Adams, Pam Chévez, Ebenezer Akakpo, Tamara Jones, and Nora Tryon. “I want to thank our staff from several departments -- Planning, Economic Development, and Public Works -- for working together to coordinate the efforts of implementing these street closures in order to assist our small business community during this trying time,” said City Manager Jon Jennings. “We are in this together, and I want to thank the artists in our community for making our downtown streets brighter with their creative and vibrant designs.” Portland-based artist Angela Adams, an international leader in contemporary design, and one of the artists whose work is featured on the barricades agreed: “We’re all in this together.”
Latinx illustrator and artist Pam Chévez designed a playful ode to summer months along the Portland seashore, with a mural design of seaweed, sand pails, french fries, tacos, lobsters, and buoys.
Nora Tryon, artist & co-editor of the Maine Arts Journal and member of the Union of Maine Visual Artists and the activist arts groups LumenARRT! and the Artists Rapid Response Team! (ARRT), created a collage-inspired design of Atlantic Cod “fish-dancing” in physically distanced pods.
Local jewelry designer and MECA alumnus Ebenezer Akakpo uses his native Ghana’s Adinkra symbols in a patterned design to express “endurance.” His artwork uses traditional symbols “meant to remind us to remain open to every experience life brings us – they each have significance in who we become.”
Tamara Jones, a local painter and graphic designer who primarily works en plein air, responded to an early Creative Portland Open Call to create an art banner to reinforce safety compliance during the pandemic. After submitting a piece designed for a mural, she adapted her design to reflect free-spirited seagulls flying peacefully at sunset.
Creative Portland is adding local flavor to the City’s “Stay the Course” public health campaign, funded by a Keep Maine Healthy Grant. Over eighteen Maine artists and graphic designers have been hired by Creative Portland via open call to create images and designs that positively reinforce COVID-19 preventative safety measures.
During the pandemic, we want to remind patrons and business owners alike to wear masks, wash hands frequently, stay physically distanced and to avoid convening in large groups. Most of the selected designs are impactful without words. Designs range from whimsical images to attract children such as masked bears and superheroes, to those targeted at retail shoppers, restaurant patrons and others who want to interact safely at downtown businesses. A map of the artwork and artists can be accessed here. Also, all are welcome to join in our public art scavenger game!
“Our community is really coming together to support the City’s public health campaign. Over two dozen developers, businesses and property managers downtown have given approval to use their facades to get out the public health message to be mindful of others during the pandemic,” announced Dinah Minot, Executive Director of the Office of Creative Portland at the City of Portland.
“Throughout the Fall and Winter months, cheerful reminders by artists will be sprinkled throughout the City, high up on buildings like the Franklin Towers, the Westin Hotel and Mechanics Hall, as well as on flag banners, all along Congress Street from Monument Square to Longfellow Square. Hiring local talent and spotlighting artists during the pandemic is vital to celebrating our creative community when public-facing events are rare.The artists’ impactful designs personalize Portland’s efforts to make a positive difference during this challenging time,” she adds.
Left: Design for "MEOW" by Pat Corrigan at Coal's Bayside; Right: Spread Love Not Germs by Elsie Widing at Coffee By Design (India Street)
In addition to the Westin Hotel and Mechanics Hall, community partners include Chris Dimillo, Steve Kalisz of MHR Management, Dana Totman of Avesta, Maine Medical Center, One Longfellow Square, Maine Historical Society, Coffee by Design, Coal’s Pizza, Ed Gardner, Dunham Group, Jim Brady/Fathom, Chris Rhoades/TT Maine Venture LLC, Portland Housing Authority, Portland Water District, Nathan Szanton, Opus Consulting Group, Liquid Riot Bottling Company, University of Southern Maine, JB Brown, Gateway Garage, GP METRO and even homeowners, like Dan St. Peter. The office of Historic Preservation has approved the installation of the temporary banners at various locations throughout Portland, to be displayed during the pandemic.
Although Creative Portland has established the Portland Artist Relief Fund to help artists make ends meet, patrons are encouraged to buy local art online or commission new works. Donate to Creative Portland to allow community public art projects, such as the Creative Bus Shelter initiative, to build and grow.
“The Arts are an integral, necessary and vibrant part of Portland’s culture - a real engine for our creative economy. Art also feeds the soul. During the pandemic, artists are still creating and still available to be hired,” reinforces Minot.
Arts Messaging in this public health campaign is provided by the following selected Maine artists who responded to an open call. Artists include:
Titi De Baccarat
Cole Hurley & Lisa Ciampa-Hurley
Renu O’Connell (ARRT!)
Nora Tryon (ARRT!)
For more information on a self-guided “Bear Hunt” and family art adventure that reinforces mask-wearing behavior, see the information below flyer announcing our upcoming scavenger hunt. A map of art installation locations will be available on October 28 at creativeportland.com/bearhunt.