The place where artists and writers with Maine connections are showcased.

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Maine’s Celebration Barn awakens students and audiences to life through theater

In Maine Insights – Article and photos by Ramona du Houx

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The first stage of the Celebration Barn experience is getting there. After negotiating countless side roads, one takes a turn down a semi-paved road and another down a rocky lane. There, in 11 acres of woods, far from the maddening crowd, lies a red restored horse barn where unique performances await the traveler, whether one is a participant in the non-profit’s workshops or someone who enjoys great theater.

Discovering the Barn is like coming across another world, a summer theater Shangri-La, as the atmosphere the performers and instructors exude is all encompassing. They greet you with enthusiasm, and excitement in their eyes sparked by the energy from working together in intensive workshops. They welcome you into their community with open arms, into one big functional family. But the majority of these thespians, writers, directors and producers only just met weeks before.

The connectedness that has been established during those weeks binds these artists to one another and becomes key to their successful individual and collaborative scripts that they act out in sold out community performances.

“Here, artists are encouraged to do work that is uniquely their own. Living and working alongside one another, while getting to totally unplug from daily demands, allows artists to go deep into their creative process. Developing a shared vocabulary, embracing each other’s differences and strengths, and supporting one other in stepping outside one’s comfort zone creates a very dynamic, safe atmosphere,” said Amanda Huotari Executive Artistic Director of Celebration Barn. Read more

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8th Annual Rural Open Studio Tour in Central Maine – Today

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Saturday, August 12th, 2017 -Studios and Galleries open 10am to 6pm

There’s much more than mosquitos in Maine north of Route 2. In the rolling hills and farmlands surrounding Skowhegan, Maine is one of the most unique opportunities to visit the amazing home studios of fabulous artists at over 20 Central Maine locations. It’s the 8th annual tour, hosted by Open Arts in association with The Wesserunsett Arts Council. The event is free of charge.

August 12th from 10am to 6pm. See wonderful works in abstract, classical, pastel, mural, folk, metal, wood, pottery, sculpture, hand dyes, quilting, photography and more. Combined with many spectacular summer gardens, it promises to be day of art and beauty that shows that the Central Maine art community is like no other.

Rural Open Studio 2017 artists:  Read more

A made in Maine riverboat is underway down the Mississippi

 In Maine Insights, By Ramona du Houx

m and eEmily du Houx and Morgan Rogers with the boat they built, the Michi Zeebee, at the “road trip” launching in Portland, Maine just before they left for St. Paul for their 2,000 journey down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.

It began long ago, before they knew it would, long before they met — both beginning love affairs with rivers. Emily du Houx living by a waterfall that pours into the Kennebec River in Maine would swim loosing track of time disappearing around the next river bend mesmerized by the water’s endless heartbeat of reflections. At the same time, Morgan Rogers negotiated rapids, kayaking skillfully through river challenges sometimes to become unwittingly drenched while at others triumphing against the California river’s swells, near her home.

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They lived in opposite coastal states, until one day their paths collided. Three years later they’ve found themselves at the mid-point of America, on the Mississippi River traveling its 2,000 miles on a bare-bones watercraft, a modified version of the Glen-L Water Lodge that dates to the 1960s, during a long hot summer.

They christened their shanty boat the Michi Zeebee, the Native American name for the river that French settlers mispronounced turning it into Mississippi, with excited expectations but not knowing what adventures would await them along their two-month journey to New Orleans.

“The design is based of a 1960s-era houseboat. Its modifications incorporate elements from theatrical showboats with colonial-era details on its siding and windows,” said Emily.

Screen Shot 2017-08-08 at 1.45.48 PMEmily du Houx and Daren, from the Apprenticeshop, preparing the Michi Zeebee for the road trip to her launching in St. Paul.

The vessel has a 25-hp outboard motor to power them away from heavier river traffic, help with difficult weather, and through and around locks and dams. Portable solar panels, the duo from Revision Energy, provide them with electricity for their equipment and so, “we can have coffee.” The cozy interior includes a king size mattress sleeping space, room to store supplies, maps, a small canoe for portages, boat-building equipment and not much more. While traveling, they will also take sonar readings of river depths.

But the Zeebee is more than a riverboat.

“She’s really a floating sculpture in the form of a boat, and a vehicle for collecting stories,” said Emily.

The multi-media project will continue to evolve along the route aiming to bring communities together. Knowing that they are following the footsteps of explorers, writers, big gambling riverboat passengers and crews, fishermen and countless workers inspires them to continue the tradition with their own twist and recordings of their experiences.

morMorgan Rogers at the “road trip” launching in Portland, Maine on the Michi Zeebee’s deck showing the bare bones cabin that will be added to along the journey. 

Below: the first stage of the cabin as it evolved during their epic trip.

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“It is our hope that by gathering stories on how people relate to living and working on the water in Maine and down the Mississippi River, that we will be able to connect these different socio-geographic communities,” said Morgan. “We also aim to highlight the different ways we can coexist with the environment to ensure a more sustainable further through renewable energy, adaptable architecture, and other means that we’ll discover as people share their experiences with us along the way.”

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The wooden hull is covered by framed plywood, with windows cut out and images of flora and fauna from river life scrolled in. (photo above)

“The pattern will start out as a carved bevel, but as we travel the river and collect items along the way — shells, rocks, plastic bottles, and the like — we will fill the carved recesses, inlaying and coloring them with the detritus of the river,” said Emily. “On deck, in place of a traditional showboat’s stage, we will be rigging up a mechanism to create a screen from water pumped from the river. We intend to project sonar scans of the river bottom onto this water screen, bringing the rarely seen and volatile river bed to the surface for viewers on the banks.”

Most significantly for them both is that they want to raise awareness to the importance of the river and how it relates to people’s daily lives.

emEmily du Houx, framed by her designed cabin walls, preparing the Michi Zeebee for the road trip to her launching in St. Paul.

“It’s our multi-media portrait of the river,” said Emily.

Getting to the Mississippi was a journey in its own right, which started two years ago when they sketched out the first plans for their journey. A year later, after a successful crowd-funding campaign, and with a grant from the Rhode Island School of Design they started construction of their shanty boat at the Apprenticeshop in Rockland, Maine.

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Emily and Morgan constructing Michi Zeebee at The Apprenticeshop in Rockland, Maine

The wooden boat school welcomed them with open arms, helping guide them when they needed a little expert advice. Emily ended up becoming an apprentice at the shop.

Early this summer they completed the cabin. Everyone at the school felt such a part of the project, by the time the boat left the shop they’d pitched in many late nights helping the two ladies get Michi Zeebee ready for departure on June 28th from Portland, Maine.

Along their road trip to St. Paul countless cars rolled alongside to take I-phone images of the vessel as her exterior carved walls are captivating.

On July 11, they launched in St. Paul, Minnesota with plans to reach New Orleans by early September. Since then they’ve negotiated the tremendously long Mississippi barges, been through white caped waves, and anchored directly on the river, amongst other things. (Read their blog postsHere)

True to their plans, at every stage of the journey the boat continues to evolve. In Dubuque they were given the city’s flag and the community of shanty boat’s flag.

There are canvas walls that stretch over the fore and aft of the boat as doors. But one was ripped off in a violent storm. At a stop at the Convivium Urban Farmstead downstream from Dubuque, the two constructed a new door from plywood, using topographical maps as a template and they added a hydroponic garden on the roof. (photo above, read more about it HERE.)

”They not only put us up at their place, but gave us full use of their wood shop . . . We arrived just in time for the grand opening of their space, two 1920s-era greenhouses with a commercial kitchen, a coffee house, and wood shop/learning center, dedicated to creating community around food,” wrote Morgan on the duo’s blog of their journey.

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Other planned stops include a “River Monologues” event in Memphis, Tennessee, and a final party and exhibition in New Orleans.

Their progress can be followed at the Carrier Pigeon: carrierpigeonstudio.com.

They’ll publish an art book of their exposition, with the Solon Center for Research and Publishing.

Emily du Houx teaches at the Rhode Island School for Design (RISD) and is an avid boater. She’s a writer, and has a Master in sculpture from RISD. Morgan Rogers is a communications specialist, and has a passion for storytelling, environmental policy, and program development.

Multi-talented dancers explores waking up in Bowdoin’s spring concert

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Article and photos By Ramona du Houx – first published in Maine Insights

The 2017 Bowdoin College spring dance concert took place on the evenings of May 4, 5, 6 and delighted audiences with inspired contemporary dance showcasing the student’s talents.

An over all theme of the dance performance explored what it means to wake up-from a dream, from sleeping while being awake, from becoming and adult or from seeing spring shake off the blanket of winter.

It’s hard to imagine the performers were not profession. Indeed one was—Bowdoin alumna Rakiya Orange ’11 was flown in to perform a 10-minute solo piece, “Nina.” Rakiya has danced solos in N.Y.C. During the spring concert she danced while a video of different movies played on a screen behind her. She used portions of the video to dance with and express her transformation into adulthood as well as aspects of love and relationships. Orange choreographed the piece (photos top of the page).

There were five different dance performances, all choreographed with great care and artistic flare. Many of the dances focused upon self-discovery utilizing a broad range of contemporary styles, and techniques.

Ben Eisenberg ’17, danced a short piece by the band Mum. His choreography captured his remarkable skills as he apparently eased his way gracefully through complicated moves, becoming one with the music.

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Gina Fickera ’18, took center stage as well with Joy Huang ’19 and Melissa Miura ’19 when they performed a piece that they also choreographed themselves. The avant-garde technique highlighted each of the dancer’s unification within the trio, as well as their individual styles.

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The department of theater and dance’s Modern I class performance centered on themes of sleep through dream sequences with a little politics interwoven in the piece. While students slumbered they slowly awoke to the daunting reality of a Trump presidency. Senior Lecturer in Dance Performance Gwyneth Jones successfully brought out the best in her students as they gave an energetic display of poetry in motion.

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The Modern III dance piece was improvisational and reminiscent of a river waking up in spring. Assistant Professor of Dance Aretha Aoki choreographed the fluid designed enchantment. During the process she allowed her students active roles in its creation.

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The Poems of Maria Caridad Lara Sciaky, dive deep into every woman’s soul

The work of a spirit unafraid of powerful and enduring literary fashions and taboos, these poems exhibit a refreshing sensitivity to the superficial as well as the profound trends in the history of the craft. They arise.

614pjzbiqql“The schematic structure of Maria’s poetry is very similar and best described by comparing it to a musical configuration called a fugue,” wrote Albert Sciaky, Maria’s loving husband of fifty years.

With sensitivity and chilling insights, many of poems highlight the quest of women to be free.

“Maria takes us on journeys in time — to reflect on the present. She bares her soul in verses that are compelling, and real. The poems touch a secret part of every woman’s soul. Maria connects with us through hidden worries, concerns and loves that we all might have. She lets me know I’m not alone in my thoughts and struggles to find a place to work in harmony — within a ‘man’s’ world,” said Ramona du Houx, the book’s artist. “It’s an honor to have my photographs included in a book of her amazing insightful poems. I feel indebted to her.”

The need to trust in man, but never knowing if betrayal awaits down the road is ever present in Maria’s work. In other poems she lets us get to know a man who exhibits unconditional love and whose love is equally reciprocated.

Women and men will find Maria’s poems enlightening.

“While reading Maria’s poetry, it is important to be informed that she believed she was divulging her personal and private inner self through her poems,” wrote Albert.

The torment that is evident in Maria’s soul in some of the poems is a pain many women will understand. They will forever be grateful Maria shared her inner thoughts, which gives us solace knowing we’re not alone.

They embrace tradition through rhymes evocative of song, along with the blank verse modes currently popular. To sing in verse of the universal themes in detail and in succinct lines is one of the greatest creative challenges. To offer combinations of form melded into a seamless style is a much-needed gift and guide for the postmodern culture we might think we have surpassed.

The themes in Maria’s poetry, rooted in nature’s diverse landscapes, are accompanied by the photographic art of Ramona du Houx.  All images are in color.

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The editor’s preface provides personal insight into the vistas opened up in each poem.

Paperback

Publisher: Polar Bear & Company

ISBN- 978-1882190-48-5

$16.95 each

Global Warming Conflicts and Solutions -Documentary to Make Change


The Solon Center for Research and Publishing has agreed to publish books based upon this documentary project which highlights conflicts around the globe that are a direct result of climate change and how community solutions, already available, could help defuse these problems. These videos, and a full-length film will be the basis of the books we will publish.

If you’d like to donate for the creation of the videos please do so through the Solon Center HERE. Small donations ($10) to large contributions (any amount) make a huge difference! None of the film is stock footage.

More from the project’s director, Alexander Cornell du Houx’s:

Background—

My deployment to Fallujah, Iraq, with the Marine Corps infantry, gave me a firsthand insight into why it’s critical to find solutions to the water insecurity connected to climate change.

While on patrol just outside the city, a roadside bomb hit my HUMVEE. Fortunately for us, most of the blast missed our vehicle. When we caught our assailant we learned that he was a farmer with little or no explosives experience. Because of climate change, his crops had failed. Vulnerable, in need of funds for survival, he was turned into a terrorist paid to attack Americans. For me, the connection between climate change and water insecurity became crystal clear.

Soon thereafter, I started to put the pieces together on how climate change and water insecurity are inseparable.

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Mission—

Our mission is to film short videos and a documentary on the impact of climate change on water security, and how clean energy and sustainable agriculture, as it relates to climate change can help combat the situation, educate community leaders, lawmakers and the public.

We aim to inspire community action, the media and lawmakers to combat climate change and promote water security.

These short videos, paired with trainings and policy initiatives, will foster climate solutions across the U.S. and world.

Water is our major focus. Most people are unaware that 40 out of 50 U.S. states expect water shortages in 10 years, according to the Government Accountability Office. At the same time foreign corporations are currently buying up U.S. water rights. Internationally, the United Nations has identified 37 conflicts in the last 50 years caused by trans-boundary water rights. Additionally, U.S. intelligence agencies recently reported that water is a major source of instability and potential conflict. According to Picture Motion, a film advocacy organization, the last project to highlight this issue was in a documentary 10 years ago for about 20 minutes. Read more

Hélène Farrar’s eclitic work on exhibit at UMF Community Arts Center

A vibrant solo exhibit by visual artist Hélène Farrar launches the UMF Emery Community Arts Center’s spring schedule. The show, “What We Carry,” runs from Jan. 17 to March 19, and features an opening reception from 5-7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 20. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

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“Balance” by Hélène Farrar

Farrar’s exhibit, “What We Carry” shows that we are more complicated than we think we are. We are even more complicated than even the stories we tell. We can’t see that someone next to us might be carrying with them an entire room or an elephant-sized amount of trauma, an isolating living situation or viewpoint, anger, a deep (dis)connection to others, and a personal or familial history of significance.

But revealing or attempting to engage with others about the depth of our human nature collectively and individually can place us into vulnerability. Through layers of mark, textures, patterns, humor and “stuff” these works hope to begin a conversation about our duality while also exploring larger themes including migration, human relationships, differences in perspective, political and social climate and personal search.

This exhibit consists of twenty plus paintings in encaustic (molten beeswax paint) and sculptures of various scale, including a 3 by 6 foot carved wooden elephant. Heat is used throughout the encaustic process, from melting the beeswax and varnish to fusing the layers of wax. The medium can be used alone for its transparency or adhesive qualities or used pigmented.

screen-shot-2017-01-12-at-9-59-48-amFarmington native Farrar teaches and makes her work just down the road in Manchester. Both her mother, also an artist, and her stepfather, taught at UMF. She has fond first memories as a child of Farmington and UMF’s Alumni Theater and art studios.

“Having my first Farmington exhibit at UMF’s Emery Community Arts Center is incredibly emotional for me,” said Farrar. “It feels very much like coming home.”

An artist and art educator, she has taught and worked in the visual arts for twenty years while actively teaching and exhibiting in commercial, nonprofit and universities in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Italy and England. Farrar was most recently featured in a summer exhibition “Vision + Verse” curated by Anne Zills at the University of New England.

Her paintings have been accepted into curated exhibits at the Creative Arts Workshop of New Haven, the Saco Museum, the University of New England and Twiggs Gallery in New Hampshire. Farrar is represented by the Stable Gallery in Damariscotta, Archipelago Fine Arts in Rockland, the Eastport Breakwater Gallery and the Center for Maine Craft in West Gardiner.

Farrar has a BA in Studio Art from the University of Maine and a Masters of Fine Art Degree in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College in Vermont.

She currently owns and operates her own private art school in Maine out of her “Farmhouse” studio, where she holds varied workshops and classes. Hélène is a great lover of people, dogs, culture, music, podcasts, and birds. She can be often found enjoying the Maine outdoors skiing, biking, or walking her dog. She lives and works in Manchester with her ten-year-old daughter Olympia, engineer husband Stan and dog Buddy.

This exhibit is sponsored by the UMF Emery Community Arts Center.

A Winter’s Apprentice is the first account of a craftsman working in a Maine boat yard

By Ramona du HouxJohn Willey shares insights into life in a Maine boatyard, where he worked and kept a journal from 1978 to ’79 in his book, A Winter’s Apprentice. John’s perspectives are unique coming from being a scholar and private investigator. He knew he was working amoung a group of outstanding craftsmen and involved in a dying art that he has now preserved in his writings.

“Before it ever leaves its building shed, a yacht will take its makers on unimagined journeys. This one only begins in East Boothbay, Maine,” said Willey.

As the historian John Gardner confirms, until relatively recently boatbuilding was not recorded—the life of the yard crew even less so. Here is a rare and vibrant narrative from a winter apprentice.

“It’s great, it really is great. I can see it, and see it all—smell it, taste it, and feel it. The shop and crew and Paul came through life size. I was there with you, every blessed, excruciating, wonderful minute…“Last night after supper, I sat down with it and didn’t get up until I had finished, about 2 a.m,” endorsed John Gardner, historian, designer and builder of wooden boats, author of books including Building Classic Small Craft.

John Willey enthusiastically recommends others to become apprentices of the trade.“The practice has worked well for more centuries than we can count. In every one of the great scholarly traditions, including but not limited to law and medicine and teaching, the best of us get that way by first attaching ourselves to the principles of what we want to know, and to the men and women who use and exemplify those principles to grow beyond them.”

Read more