‘We hope to have an ongoing presence in the community’

New Midcoast art society shows creative edge in opening months

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 7:00pm

CAMDEN — A new art society has launched in Knox County and is rapidly growing as an organization. Founded in March, the Knox County Art Society has grown to 40 members and is preparing for its fifth art showing of its members. 

The concept for KCAS blossomed from Camden Life Drawing, an ongoing figure drawing group that has been meeting for six years.

Many artists participate in Camden Life Drawing, but were coming together only once per week to draw.

“They all had many other art interests and practices, and wanted the chance to share more,” said David Blanchard, who founded Camden Life Drawing and played a large role in launching KCAS. 

KCAS is supported largely by three members of the Camden business community: Marianne Smith, Dot Eesley and Brian Beggarly. 

Smith, a member of Camden Life Drawing, quickly recognized the new art society’s value to the community and offered to provide ample assistance, including meeting spaces. 

Eesley, of art supply store Rockport Blueprint, offers a significant discount for KCAS members on most products at her business. 

“This provided an added incentive for potential members to join,” said Blanchard. 

Beggarly accepted a proposal allowing KCAS to manage the art on the walls of his cafe, Boynton-McKay Food Co., on Main Street in downtown Camden.

“The opportunity to exhibit work there on an ongoing basis provided another incentive for artists to join,” said Blanchard. “Artists highly value the opportunity to show their work in public, whether it is for sale or not.” 

These three community leaders provided the three legs of the stool needed to begin to become known and attract members: a place to meet, a financial incentive to join, and the opportunity to exhibit art work.

The society has partnered with Camden National Bank to showcase at least 20 pieces at its Camden Square branch, located with the Hannaford shopping center in Camden, from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31. 

Members showing their art at the Camden National Bank exhibition include Pam Bardon of Camden, Erika Manning of Owls Head, Karen Strong of Cushing, Lyn Cathryn of Camden and Heidi Locke of Union. Mary Ann Heinzen of Rockland is the show’s volunteer manager. 

The mission of KCAS is to support visual artists of all ages by providing face-to-face opportunities for learning, collaboration and the exchange of ideas, resources, and skill.

Short term goals include
• Double membership from 40 to 80 by June 1 to reach the critical mass necessary to sustain the organization
• Develop a presence on the internet in the form of a web site
• Elect officers and fill other key volunteer positions
• Incorporate in the State of Maine and receive a letter from the IRS determining that we are a non-profit 501c(3) organization
• Hold three quarterly member meetings with guest speakers, one each in December, March, and June

By the end of the year, KCAS will have had exhibitions continuously for seven months in Camden thanks to its arrangements with Boynton-McKay and Camden National Bank. 

KCAS would like to have other short-term exhibition arrangements in place similar to its deal with Camden National Bank. 

“We hope to have an ongoing presence in the community by displaying our work in a variety of locations throughout the county,” said Blanchard. “Our members’ work spans the full game of artistic endeavor, from beginning to advanced, and includes works by many accomplished artists who have shown and sold in commercial galleries in Maine and other states. Our art offers a definite decorative attribute to any establishment with adequate space and lighting.”

Separating itself from other art societies, Blanchard noted KCAS is not a juried society and is open to all visual artists working in a variety of mediums and at all levels.

“The Society encompasses paintings drawing, sculpture, photography and all other visual art mediums — even art quilting,” said Blanchard. “We are ‘member driven’ in that our members organize and run their own small groups to suit their particular needs and interests.” 

Among those small groups are groups focusing on weekly sketching, weekly watercolor painting, and monthly critique sessions. A reading and discussion group centered around books and films of three kinds: method (instruction), pictorial (coffee table), and artist biography is being considered for early 2020 sessions. 

Meetings occur variously during the day and evenings on weekdays and weekends.

“We roam about the towns and countryside for our sketching and painting activities, and want to be active and hold activities throughout the county,” said Blanchard. 

Occasionally, the society offers classes and workshops, though those offerings are not the primary mission behind the group. 

Blanchard noted KCAS is also not a professional society, meaning it does not provide career advancement assistance. Rather, members socialize, learn, inspire and are inspired by sharing enthusiasms and knowledge, he said. 

“We are organized to facilitate personal interaction centered around the making of art,” said Blanchard. 

Members of the community seeking to support the organization can support KCAS by joining or encouraging artist friends to join, participating in KCAS activities, providing venues for KCAS exhibitions and meetings, and providing volunteer technical support for the development of the group’s social media and internet presence. 

For more information, connect with the group on Facebook

Reach George Harvey at: sports@penbaypilot.com