Mural unveiling in Damariscotta: Well-known Edgecomb artist and educator Brady Nickerson popped in to the LCN recently to tell me about the new mural to be installed on the side of S. Fernald’s Country Store in downtown Damariscotta. It is the work of up-and-coming 23-year-old Bremen painter Katie Riley and is a wonderfully colorful and cartoony depiction of sandwich ingredients – bread, cheese, bacon, tomatoes – and all the other yumminess that Fernald’s sells, such as ice cream and candy.
“I have known Katie since she signed up for one of my summer art camps when she was around 8 or 9 years old,” Nickerson told me. “It took no time at all to see what a talented and gifted artist she is.”
Nickerson said she approached Fernald’s about the possibility of Riley painting a mural for the outside wall of the business, near the picnic area. The owners “were excited and supportive about the idea,” she said.
“It was a natural fit with my challenge of seeing public art in the town of Damariscotta and a challenge and opportunity for Katie to firmly believe that doing art for a living is possible,” said Nickerson of her motivation. (Astute readers will note that there is a lovely mural by Walpole artist Susan Bartlett Rice on the side of the former Pemaquid Watershed Association building on upper Main Street in Damariscotta, which was installed last summer. Rumor has it, by the way, that it will be moved to another Damariscotta location in the near future. Riley’s mural will be the first in the downtown area.)
“I always wondered why there wasn’t any public art or color of any sort in Damariscotta to represent the vast and many artists that live here,” Nickerson said. “I recently spent some time in Santa Fe (N.M.) and enjoyed not only the variety of art in that city but the color, the murals, and the beautifully painted birds found in New Mexico, which were depicted on the bridges and overpasses.”
“The restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops all had vibrant colors, and some with murals on the walls, which made a feeling of liveliness,” she continued enthusiastically. “Seeing a piece of public art in Damariscotta has been on my bucket list ever since I moved here 33 years ago.”
This is Riley’s first mural “and being 4 by 8 feet, it was a huge undertaking and challenge for her,” Nickerson said. “But she instantly could envision candy, sandwiches, and so much more, and followed through and executed it beautifully.”
Nickerson said she “asked a few friends to financially support the cost of materials … They were happy to oblige and we were off and running. Katie has volunteered over 85 hours of hard and challenging artistic work and didn’t want to be paid for doing this mural.”
“To see her design, sketch, and paint the mural in my garage was definitely like watching a famous artist at work,” Nickerson said. “It was beautiful to watch her talent pour out onto this big board. I could see both her dad’s cartoon style and her mom’s attention to detail meld into one, with a ‘Katie spin’ on it all.” (Riley’s father is a political cartoonist and her mother is a painter and illustrator.)
“I could not be more pleased and proud of Katie and her accomplishments and her steadfast dedication to this mural for … six weeks,” said Nickerson. “It was a win-win situation for both of us. It’s now off of my bucket list and hopefully she is on to greater opportunities in the art field. I am so grateful that everyone can now enjoy the colorful and fun mural as they cross the bridge and see a pop of color and design while heading north. People will know that many great artists live here.”
The unveiling of Riley’s mural at S. Fernald’s Country Store, which is located at 50 Main St. in Damariscotta, will take place Saturday, June 15 at 3 p.m. “Everyone is invited to come and celebrate with Katie,” said Nickerson.
See more of Riley’s artwork on her Instagram page @katiepaintz.
Celebrating the Medomak: On Saturday, June 22 at 7 p.m., the Halcyon string quartet – made up of violinists Josie Davis and Sophie Davis, viola player Colin Wheatley, and cellist Ju-Young Lee – will perform in a concert called “Music on the Medomak,” a multimedia celebration of Maine’s working waterfront, featuring visual art and live music. The event, which promises to be a lot of fun, will take place at Broad Bay Congregational Church, 941 Main St., Waldoboro. Admission is by donation.
I caught up with Josie Davis by email recently and asked her about Halcyon and the upcoming concert:
Me: Tell me a little about the personnel and history of Halcyon:
Josie: My sister Sophie and I, from Waldoboro, grew up playing violin from the time we were 4 and 6 years old. Music has always been at the center of our lives and we particularly love playing music together and with others.
Following several years of school and travel, we decided to settle in Maine and form a string quartet with our close friends Colin Wheatley and Ju Young Lee. We love sharing music with folks from all walks of life in both performance and education settings. We are also passionate about using music to respond to the reality of climate change, which we feel is one of the most urgent issues facing our generation. We have been collaborating with scientists and environmental nonprofits to build programs that use the arts to unpack the data, statistics, and graphs that are so often misinterpreted in the climate change discussion.
We strive to use music to respond to climate change in a way that inspires reflection, resilience, and action. By collaborating across disciplines, we create performance experiences that go beyond what we might think of as traditional “classical chamber music” concerts.
Me: Ditto for the “Music on the Medomak” series:
Josie: “Music on the Medomak” is our fourth annual multimedia performance at Broad Bay Church that celebrates the local landscape and community through art and music. Each year we have explored a different theme with various collaborators, from farmers and artists to photographers and elementary school students.
The first year, we asked Lincoln County community members to submit photos of the watershed in each season that we projected during a live performance of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” Last year, we reached out to local farms for images and stories about farming in the Midcoast.
This year’s concert will capture the many ways the Medomak River supports local fisheries, from clamming and lobstering to ice fishing and the alewife run. Seven local artists have shared work that will be accompanied by photos that capture the challenges and rewards of working on the water in all four seasons.
Me: What pieces will you be performing?
Josie: We will play a wide variety of pieces, from a string quartet by Haydn to excerpts from Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” quartet and Holst’s St. Paul’s Suite. We’ll round out the program with some traditional folk music from around the world.
Me: What are you particularly excited about with this event?
Josie: This annual concert is a highlight of the year for Sophie and me, as we particularly love playing music in our hometown. It means so much to be able to come to Waldoboro and share music for both new and familiar faces. The audiences are always so warm and open.
We love sharing music alongside visuals that celebrate our identities as members of this community and celebrate the beauty of the Midcoast. Pastor Nancy Duncan, of Broad Bay Church, has been so supportive of our vision for these concerts and welcomes our ideas and music with open arms.
Me: What do you like about a multimedia performance as opposed to using a single medium?
Josie: As musicians, we believe that bringing together different mediums inspires an appreciation for the places we live and for our dependence on the natural world. It also provides an access point for audiences who may not be regular classical music-goers. I love how a piece of art or an image can add meaning and depth to music, and the reciprocal experience is also true.
I also love the opportunity to collaborate with local artists to create a platform for people to experience their work in a new context.
(Learn more about Halcyon at halcyonstringquartet.com.)
See you all in two weeks: My column is longer than usual this week because I am going on vacation for two weeks and wanted to make sure to cover the Halcyon event, which I normally would have waited another week to write about. So, have fun at the mural unveiling and Halcyon’s concert, and I will have fun with my family, who are arriving shortly from Germany. Thanks!
(Christine LaPado-Breglia has written about the arts in both California and Maine. She is the recipient of two 2018 Critic’s Awards and a 2018 Local Columnist award from the Maine Press Association. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write her a letter in care of The Lincoln County News, P.O. Box 36, Damariscotta, ME 04543.)