Series goal: SPArCing a love of art

STANDISH – In an attempt to broaden arts and cultural offerings in the Lakes Region, Saint Joseph’s College in Standish is continuing the newly instituted SPArC Lecture Series this semester with three distinct offerings from southern Maine artists.

“SPArC” stands for speakers, performers, artists and culture, said organizer Chris Sullivan, assistant professor of fine arts at the college. The series hosted two speakers associated with the Portland Museum of Art last semester and has three artists set for the coming months.

The artists will show off their art, discuss the medium and conduct a question-and-answer session afterward.

Sullivan said the new lineup, which begins Wednesday evening, Jan. 30, expands the focus of SPArC to include the five senses, with multimedia artist Jeff Badger set to discuss his artwork. Singer-songwriter Samuel James leads a second lecture Feb. 13 and brewmaster Ben Alexander, owner of Maine Mead Works, completes the spring cycle March 13.

Sullivan said the college is hoping to expand its role of being a beacon of arts and culture in the Lakes Region. He said the lecture series invites not only students and faculty to attend but residents from the Lakes Region. Sullivan said a third of the audience at an event last fall in which the director of the Portland Museum of Art spoke about a Homer Winslow exhibit were residents of Standish and surrounding towns.

“I know that there’s a kind of divide between people who are willing to drive into the city and those who aren’t,” Sullivan said regarding the reasons for founding the arts and culture lecture series. “And I also know when people think of arts and culture, they think of Portland, but there are a bunch of people out in this area who would love to access some of this stuff but just are a little intimidated about going into the city.”

The involvement of the wider public in events at Saint Joseph’s is something college President Dr. James Dlugos has promoted, Sullivan said.

Dlugos said his reasons for encouraging community-wide participation reflects a shift in thinking on the part of colleges nationwide.

“The ivory tower model is the old model for universities. We were places that were walled off from the outside world. But it’s been obvious for quite a long time that that model has tremendous shortcomings,” Dlugos said. “A hallmark of 21st Century education is recognition that we’re not taking students away to learn things in isolation, we’re really helping them prepare to interact with the world.”

Dlugos said the college’s outreach effort should not only benefit students but also the community.

“We believe the community can benefit from the energy that our students and our faculty and our staff bring to the work that they do,” he said. “And St. Joseph’s College is committed to being a resource for the southern Maine and the Lakes Region in particular. And the SPArC lecture series is just one of what will be an increasing array of these kinds of initiatives. We want people to see St. Joseph’s as their college.”