‘Pop-up’ art walk due for downtown

A one-day “pop-up” art walk is coming to downtown Westbrook, and organizers are hoping the foot traffic can bring attention to both the city’s art scene and its new creative businesses.

The event, on Saturday, May 14, will showcase multiple pieces from 13 artists working in southern Maine, with the work hanging at seven downtown locations, most of which are relatively new businesses. “Paper City Pop-Up” is sponsored by Westbrook Arts & Culture, an organization devoted to celebrating the arts in Westbrook.

Andy Curran, a Westbrook artist and president of Westbrook Arts & Culture, said this week that the event is designed to put a spotlight on both local artists and creative downtown businesses.

“We thought we’d take this art walk concept to not only bring attention to the businesses, but also to all the art that’s going on in the area,” he said.

Curran said new businesses have seemed to be clustering downtown in the past year or so, including Black Dinah Chocolatiers and Mast Landing Brewing Co., both of which are particpating in the art walk.

Other locations include Forte Hair Salon, which recently moved to 816 Main St., Catbird Creamery, Continuum for Creativity, Swallowtail Music and the Walker Memorial Library.

Curran said many residents may not be aware of some of the creative businesses downtown.

“We want to give people another reason to go in and see them, and explore them,” he said.

While a number of the artists displaying work May 15 are from Westbrook, there are also many from other Greater Portland communities such as Portland, South Portland, Gorham, Scarborough and Saco. Curran, who used to run the Saccarappa Art Collective on Main Street, curated the show. He asked each artist to submit six to eight pieces for the show.

The pop-up art walk will run from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday. Continuum for Creativity, which sits next to the former Saccarappa Art Collective spot, will host a reception for the artists, shop owners and public from 4-7 p.m., overlapping with the artwalk, to provide information for those roaming downtown.

At Continuum, the art will showcase the artists that teach at the business. According to Curran, classes at Continuum have routinely been full.

Mary Brooking, who owns Continuum and is also the vice president of Westbrook Arts & Culture, said Tuesday that her classes have been growing. When it opened last year, Brooking, who teaches acrylic landscape, was the only teacher working in the space. Now, she said, artists Jacob Aguiar and Michael Torlen are teaching courses in pastel and color theory.

“The three of us will be exhibiting together at Continuum for the pop-op, along with Adria Moynihan Rusk, whose still-life workshop is coming up on May 21, and Caren-Marie Michel,” she said.
Michel, a Westbrook artist, is also the former president of the organization.

For Curran, who also used to own and operate Aterra, a gift store at what is now Continuum, downtown Westbrook is continuing to progress.

“My businesses were part of the progression of the neighborhood,” he said. “They couldn’t make it at the time, but I think they were building blocks for the creative neighborhood.”

Westbrook Arts & Culture was revived in late 2014 after fizzling out a few years earlier. Curran said that, depending on the event’s popularity, it could be a test run for Westbrook Arts & Culture for the future possibility of launching a monthly art walk.

“Backside, Monhegan,” a watercolor on gouache by artist Michael Torlen will be one of dozens of paintings on display next week during “Paper City Pop-Up,” a one-time art walk set for downtown Westbrook.