Coming soon – art all around town

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A re-launch of the Art All Around public art program, which kicks off this week at the Westbrook Community Center, aims to engage the community in creating installation pieces destined for various locations in the city. 

According to Craig Collins, the executive director of the Maine Center for Creativity, which runs the program, locations will most likely include Blue Note Park downtown, a portion of Main Street sidewalk and a section of the riverwalk. 

Workshops to create the artwork, which beganWednesday, are taking place at the community center, My Place Teen Center and Cafe Inc. at the Dana Warp Mill, and will culminate in the installation in July. 

From now until then, volunteers, students and residents will work to create thousands of hand-crafted art pieces for the installation by using recycled and recycleable materials. 

Collins said more locations and partners may be added. Collins said the organization is also looking at a temporary commercial space downtown that could be open for the public to participate. 

Art All Around is the main initiative of the Maine Center for Creativity, a nonprofit organization established in 2005 as a way to galvanize communities in supporting art as an economic development tool. Its most visible project to date has been the painting of the Sprague oil tanks in South Portland. However, Art All Around programs are now temporary installations, with a more direct focus on communities. 

A central piece of the project will be installed in Blue Note Park, which has long been seen as an underutilized public space in need of upgrading. He said the piece may use the alleyway that runs between Westbrook Commons. Another location could be the former end of Bridge Street leading to the new pedestrian bridge, soon to be renamed Vallee Square. 

“We’re thinking of a path around the downtown,” he said about the locations.

Collins said he expects the Westbrook installation will be up for roughly a week. Some of the installations will be “canopies,” hanging from above. 

“It really is art all around,” he said. “When you walk in, you will really be surrounded by it.” 

As for why the organization chose Westbrook, Collins said Westbrook stood out because of the recent level of activity that has been seen in the city, especially with the work of the Downtown Westbrook Coalition and Arts & Culture Committee. 

“I found a remarkable receptivity,” he said about planning the initiative in Westbrook. “It was a slam dunk.” 

Collins said Art All Around is already planning its program for next year, speaking with communities such as Saco and Rumford. 

Volunteers and kids at My Place Teen Center set up this week for open art workshops for Art All Around, a project that will result in a weeklong art installation at downtown locations this summer. 

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