Creative Portland, in partnership with the Greater Portland Metro and the Greater Portland Council of Governments, has initiated a Creative Bus Shelter program made possible by a National Endowment for the Arts "Our Town" grant award. Three artists have been selected for Phase I of the project to install their vision using the canvas of the bus shelter for public art. The project will strengthen communities by engaging local artists and arts administrators, in partnership with transit providers, and in collaboration with the Office of Economic Opportunity and the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, for positive social impact and systems change. The goals are to encourage multi-modal transportation, increase ridership, and to promote awareness and social acceptance through art installations that utilize bus shelters as the canvas for public art on the theme of celebrating diversity and inclusion.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Powder-coated Adinkra symbols in metal represent Hope & Friendship, designed by Portland artist and Ghana Native, Ebenezer Akakpo.
Artist: Ebenezer Akakpo
Title: Hope & Friendship
Bus Shelter Location: Congress Street/Mechanics Hall
Ebenezer Akakpo received his BFA from Maine College of Art (MECA ‘01), and his master's in Industrial Design from Rochester Institute of Technology. His artwork, jewelry and home goods are available at Maine Craft Portland (behind this bus shelter), PMA Store at the Portland Museum of Art, or online at www.akakpo.com.
Portland-based Justin Levesque is an interdisciplinary artist. He earned his BFA in Photography from the University of Southern Maine and has exhibited throughout the United States, and internationally in the United Kingdom and Iceland. His shelter represents the mortality rate of cod in relation to unprecedented high temperatures of ocean waters off the Maine coast. His installation was feautured by his alma mater in this article.
Rendering of "The Mainer Project"
The Portraits that compose Pigeon's design
Title: The Maine Project
Bus Shelter Location: St. Johns Street/off Congress
Pigeon, aka Orson Horchler, is a French street artist based in Portland who cares about belonging and sharing an intercultural space. Portraits from "The Mainer Project" represent Pigeon’s personal connections and friendships. Some of the subjects have resided here their entire lives, while others arrived recently from abroad-- and some have left Maine after being subjected to overwhelming xenophobic speech and actions. The artist’s hope is to incite community building by inspiring discourse on identity and by confronting the attitudes that prevent us from feeling at home in the place we live. His installation was featured in the Portland Press Herald!
American Steel & Aluminum: Devoted to quality and integrity, this national company has Portland roots. As the only metals distributor in the state of Maine, the in-kind sponsor is supplying materials and high-tech laser cutting services for artist Ebenezer Akakpo’s powder-coated steel design.
ASA’s Portland, Maine facility is located directly off the Maine Turnpike (I-95), where American Steel & Aluminum began 200 years ago, just up the road on Portland’s Long Wharf. Today, their 80,000 square feet of space has full processing capabilities that carry on a two-century tradition of
quality and service.
Designtex: Operating out of a state-of-the-art, 26,000 square foot facility in Portland, Maine, DesignTex Surface Imaging Division is composed of an expert team of artists, technologists and craftspeople working together to create beautiful, engaging and one-of-a-kind environments. They are providing in-kind vinyl printing services to Creative Portland for the shelters by Justin Levesque and Pigeon.
Portland Industrial Coating: Is a team of powder coat specialists that can take on single item custom creations, or tackle high scale industrial contracts. P.I.C. is powder-coating artist Ebenezer Akakpo’s lasercut steel sheets.
Rock Row (Waterstone Properties): is contributing support for the Creative Bus Shelter Initiative. Centered around a 400-foot wide, 300-foot deep rock quarry, the 110-acre Rock Row development will attract more than 6 million guests a year from across the state, region and country— brimming
with life and excitement 365-days a year with destination retail, chef-driven dining, inviting workspaces, modern residences, hip hotels, diverse entertainment and more. All in a fun, comfortable, immersive experience that fully embraces nature and green space.
Creative Portland invited Greater Portland artists to submit proposals for the Portland Creative Bus Shelter Initiative. Funded partially by a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town Creative Placemaking grants program, matched by corporate sponsors and project partners Greater Portland METRO, GPCOG and Waterstone Properties, who also sit on the curatorial team for Phase 1 that will fund four (4) separate bus shelters with add-on designs to existing code-compliant shelters. Pamela Moulton, project coordinator, will supervise installation of the jury’s chosen designs.
CRITERIA FOR SELECTION
Artist(s) will be considered based on:
- An interest in public arts messaging under the theme of celebrating our City’s diversity
- A practice of inclusive community bonding & cultural acceptance
- Demonstration of quality work & artistic excellence
- Previous art installation experience
- An ability to create renderings or drawings of a notable and impactful creative design
- Precision designs for add-on installations of Metro’s bus shelters
- Experience using exterior weather-resistant materials for large scale public art
- Proven experience in time management and delivery on budget
Projects will be selected based on artistic excellence of the proposed designs within the budget, experience in public art installations, use of weather-resistant materials for longevity, and an inclusive message of belonging and acceptance in a racially, socially, and economically diverse city that honors artistic talent and pays tribute to cultural distinctions. Bus shelter locations to be determined following artist selection.
The curatorial team responsible for choosing the artists will include representatives from higher education institutions, arts organizations, and corporate sponsors, who also have a connection to understanding and working with under-served populations and diverse communities.