Dr. Lisa Belisle brings a decade of experience interviewing radio show guests to the Portland Art Gallery. Each week on Radio Maine, we bring you an interview with an artist, art-lover or creative individual that will broaden your view of Maine and the community that we cherish. Listen to, or watch, Radio Maine on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Audible, Google Podcasts, You Tube, Vimeo or the Portland Art Gallery website. Thank you for joining us, and being part of our world.
Artist Bella Weidner has never been afraid of doing what she wants to do–including selling her Cumberland, Maine homestead, so that she and her young family could travel the country in their camper. She comes by her adventurous inclinations honestly, with parents who first came to the U.S. from Argentina, and then uprooted themselves once again as they moved with their children from California to New England. Along the way, Bella developed an eye for beauty and color, which led her to pursue an art education. Bella now lives and creates art in Stockton Springs (near Belfast), where she and her husband rent cottages to Maine’s coastal visitors, all while raising their son, Che. Join our conversation with the intrepid and innovative Bella Weidner today on Radio Maine.
Teaching is an important source of perspective and inspiration for artist Dietlind Vander Schaaf. Through her interactions with students, she has the opportunity to reflect on her own very prolific art practice, both with regard to process and outcome. Dietlind continues to experiment with colors and her signature mark-making, while at the same time acknowledging that vision often comes before the ability to execute a given idea–and that this tension is not always easy. She remains committed to her creative evolution, and carries this into the business of art-making as well. Join our conversation with Dietlind Vander Schaaf on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Growing up in the Belgrade Lakes region of Maine, Emily McConnell considered Portland to be “the big city.” Though she felt a certain attraction to its urban energy, Emily did not yet have a sense that she would one day be contributing to its evolution. Maine’s largest municipality has experienced increased attention nationally in recent years, both for its liveability and for its economic opportunities. Anticipating the increased demand for housing options, the NewHeight Group has been at the center of several exciting projects, including the conversion of the former Northern Light Mercy Hospital building on State Street. NewHeight partner Emily McConnell has been actively engaged in this transformation, while simultaneously working toward her own, very significant professional transformation. Hear Emily’s reflections on change on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Rick Hamilton’s art brings joy to those who experience it. This is true when it is invited into the homes of those who have chosen it for their own, and also for those who are present during its creation. Such was the case recently, when Rick brought his easel, paints and a 6 x 10 foot canvas to the Portland Art Gallery, and created the piece “We’ll Always Stick Together,” with the participation of gallery visitors of all ages. This experience continued a dialogue of happiness that Rick seems always in the midst of, and produced a sizable work that now hangs on the wall of a local business. Join our conversation with artist Rick Hamilton today on Radio Maine.
Artist Missy Dunaway has the unique ability to be both far-ranging and deep in her approach to her work. While attempting to convince a fellow college student of the ongoing relevance of William Shakespeare several years ago, she gave his contribution to language as one example. A known ‘word chemist,’ The Bard not only engaged in the creation of new vocabulary, he also extensively used the known vocabulary of the time: his collected works include more than 30,000 different words. Among these are descriptions of 64 separate species of birds that eventually became the inspiration for Missy’s current series of paintings–which also include applicable and historically accurate plants. With the help of an ornithologist, a botanist, and a Shakespeare scholar, Missy is remaining true to her intention of “using a visual form to communicate information that makes it more accessible to everybody.” Join our latest conversation with Missy Dunaway on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Susan Sherrill Axelrod is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers. A former restaurant owner, she is now the Editor-in-chief for Culture (“the ultimate publication for those who love cheese”). Her love of culture goes beyond the culinary: she has an undergraduate degree in French and Italian literature, and has traveled all over the world. Now a Maine resident with a strong connection to the Boothbay region, she shares her talents with the Portland Art Gallery community via “Art Matters,” a weekly web and email column featuring interviews with our artists. Learn more about Susan Sherrill Axelrod on this week’s episode of Radio Maine.
Joyce Grasso’s life experiences, and adversities, have been quietly informing her art for many years. A native of Portland, Maine, her family had a shoe store on Congress Street–across from what is now the Maine Historical Society’s Wadsworth-Longfellow House–for more than half a century. She had a front row seat to the cultural diversity of Munjoy Hill, and enjoyed weekend forays to Cape Elizabeth and Old Orchard Beach. She also felt the limitations of career choice, as did many women of her generation. Despite these limitations, and significant health challenges, her art reflects the abundance and hope that she has steadfastly drawn from her life. Join our conversation with Joyce Grasso on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Greg Day has always had an interest in lines and intersections. Early in life, Greg would lay out and draw intricate city maps at his kitchen table. After graduating from a small high school in rural Maine, Greg went on to study architecture. While his work in this profession was brief, both this and his fascination with cartography would eventually influence his art. Learn more about artist Greg Day on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Julia Einstein’s art is all about the details. She seeks “gestures” in her subjects - most often flowers from her garden, or the farm where she is currently an artist in residence - and takes great care to arrange and paint them at precisely the right time of day. Previously a resident of Kennebunk, Maine, Julia made use of her extensive art history background when she worked as an educator at the Portland Museum of Art. Now a resident of Raleigh, North Carolina, where she moved to be near her family, Julia maintains her connection to the Pine Tree State through her affiliation with the Portland Art Gallery. Join our conversation with Julia Einstein on this episode of Radio Maine.
The founder of Maine Street Design Co., longtime interior designer Brett Johnson has many loyal clients across the state. Raised on the Maine coast, he has a deeply rooted family and personal history on Bailey Island. Building on the success of his Portland design studio and design center, he opened a new retail location in Bath, Maine in the midst of Covid, and has continued to grow his business despite the globally-felt challenges of the past few years. In the process, he has also reinvented himself personally, venturing forth to parts of the world that simultaneously broadened his horizons, and reconnected him with his family legacy. Join our conversation with Brett Johnson today on Radio Maine.
Sally Thomas has dedicated her life to healing others, in myriad and evolving ways. Through her work as a nurse, and then a nurse practitioner, she came to understand the importance of emotional connection. With that in mind, she pursued a Doctor of Ministry, and initiated the “Wondering Together Project,” which brings families together through shared conversation. Learn more about Sally Thomas, and the importance of interrelatedness, today on Radio Maine.
Artist Karen Blair has had a long love affair with Maine. Although she makes her home in Charlottesville, Virginia, she has a deep appreciation for the many artists who have similarly been inspired by the Pine Tree State, including Lois Dodd, Fairfield Porter, and Reggie Burrows Hodges. Our remote interview with Karen includes a walk through her studio, where she has been working on a new series of Maine-influenced pieces, which will be featured in her 2022 show at the Portland Art Gallery. Join our visit with Karen on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Maine native Dr. Jennifer Palminteri, a pulmonologist with MaineHealth in South Portland, recently discovered the joy of bringing original art into her home. Jen is no stranger to creativity, having–like most of her medical colleagues–engaged in this extensively while responding to the rapidly evolving virus that precipitated a global pandemic. She offers a balanced and reassuring perspective from the front line of medicine. Jen’s ability to engage in uncertainty enabled her to fully embrace the art buying process, despite having no background in this area, demonstrating the transferability of skills and mindset that artists in all fields (and professions) are known for. Join our conversation with Dr. Jen Palminteri on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Tony Cox is a fixture in the southern Maine art community. He and his wife Heather have owned and operated Casco Bay Frames and Gallery in Portland for nearly two decades. Tony has combined an educational background in psychology and studio art, with practical, hands-on experience working in human resources at LL Bean, to create success for their Back Cove area business. Tony finds joy working with his staff – all of whom are artists – and with clients from across the country. Learn more about Tony Cox, and what brought him back to his home state, in today’s episode of Radio Maine.
The daughter of a small business owner, Ashley Tucci has long had an enterprising spirit. Even while fully engaged in her successful corporate career, she was considering how she could build a business for herself. She imagined focusing her considerable talents in sales and brand building in a way that would satisfy her entrepreneurial calling and sustain her young family. Ashley found this opportunity with a small lingerie store in Portland, Maine, and took the leap not long before the global pandemic turned the world upside down. She has worked through the challenges, and sees the future as bright. Though her father did not live to see his daughter follow in his footsteps, we know he would be proud. Learn about Ashley’s journey on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Traveling can create space, enlarge perspective and enrich the soul. In this episode of Radio Maine, our host, Dr. Lisa Belisle, records a brief podcast from her recent trip to the Grenadine Islands where she had the space to consider the art and the artists she’s spoken with in dozens of episodes since early 2021. “Art is interesting because you have the opportunity to see where an artist was at that moment and in that period of time in their life,” she observes. “Artists leave a trail of breadcrumbs from the present to the past.
Joanne Parent embodies creative energy. Her widely varied background includes many years as a musician–she has been the lead singer in nearly 20 bands—and an early career as a charter sailing captain. This latter experience proved beneficial to her work in visual art. When the responsibilities of her young family necessitated a return to land, Joanne brought the light-filled sea vistas to her canvases. Her work continues to reflect her effervescent personality. Join our conversation with Joanne Parent today on Radio Maine.
Whitney Heavey’s family has an intergenerational appreciation of the ocean. Her grandfather was the captain of the (then) fastest transatlantic ocean liner, the SS United States, before air travel became widespread; her father was a navigator for the Navy’s first nuclear submarine. The sea features prominently in Whitney’s work as an artist, and has helped her heal after a series of recent hardships. She is deeply appreciative of her life, and the lessons she has learned by working through challenges. Join our conversation with Whitney Heavey on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
In this week’s episode, our host, Dr. Lisa Belisle, reflects on the collaborative effort that makes Radio Maine possible. Beginning in the midst of a global pandemic as a primarily distance-based project, the show has evolved to include in-person interviews, and now has more than 60 episodes. A lover of books, art, people and their stories, Lisa continues to see her work with the Portland Art Gallery as a means of exploring shared humanity. Thank you for taking a moment to pause and ponder this concept with us this week, and every week, on Radio Maine.
Radio Maine Episode 63: Nikki Fontaine
Previously a celebrity and on-air makeup artist in New York City, COVID caused Nikki Fontaine to seek refuge in the quiet coastal Maine town of Damariscotta. No stranger to New England, Nikki grew up in a creative family in rural Massachusetts. Influenced by their filmmaker father, she and her brother (a fellow makeup artist who specializes in ‘monster’ effects) followed the bright lights to NYC. When their industry shut down in the midst of a global pandemic, Nikki remained connected to the city–and her ongoing interest in visual arts– through virtual classes offered by the Art Students League of New York. Now a member of the Portland Art Gallery staff, she continues to work on her own emerging career as an artist. Join our conversation with Nikki Fontaine on this week’s episode of Radio Maine.
For Dr. Sunil Malhotra, being surrounded by art that evokes a certain emotional response helps him “right the ship.” As a practicing surgeon and the director of the newly created Congenital Cardiac Surgery program at Maine Medical Center in Portland, his work life has a high level of intensity. Fortunately he was able to draw on the experience of multiple physician family members, including his father, grandfathers and sister, when he chose this path. He reflects on his chosen profession, and the balance that art provides, on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Newly graduated from the University of Vermont in Burlington, Sarah Ingraham took a calculated risk and moved to Brooklyn, New York to pursue a career in art. After working briefly in the wallpaper business, then as an artist’s assistant, she decided to hone her own craft full-time. The Maine native now paints in a 10 x 10 foot space in her apartment, and receives regular support from friends from her home state, including fellow Portland Art Gallery artist Page Eastburn O’Rourke. Learn more about talented emerging artist Sarah Ingraham on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Paula Stern kept her passion for sculpting hidden from her family, friends and colleagues for many years–at one point even her husband was unaware. With a masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University in Boston, and a PhD in International Studies from the Fletcher School at Tufts University in Medford, Mass, her professional career had been more globally oriented. After time spent as a journalist in the Middle East, writing for the New Republic and the Atlantic, she and her husband, Paul London, settled down in Washington, DC to pursue a career in government. This culminated in her role as the chair of the US International Trade Commision, making her (at that time) the second highest-ranking woman in the executive branch of the US Government. Paula’s quiet obsession with sculpting eventually became known, and her subjects would include such notables as Nelson Mandela, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and former president Bill Clinton. Learn how Paula integrated these very different aspects of her life on this week’s episode of Radio Maine.
Allen Bunker turned to art as a counterbalance to his fast-paced career in residential construction. Through experimentation and persistence, Allen developed a unique artistic approach. He soon left construction behind to open an art gallery in the coastal town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine. He learned much over the years that the gallery was open, including the fact that collectors loved the art he created. When Allen reentered the construction business, he did so under his own terms. His alignment with the Portland Art Gallery has been well-received by the many collectors who value his work. Join our conversation with Allen Bunker, as we discuss entrepreneurism, the search for life balance, and how art has made this possible for him on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Originally from England, artist Christina Thwaites has lived around the world, enjoying time in such far flung locales as Scotland, France, Spain, Italy, Indonesia, Netherlands and Australia. Painting has long provided a means of finding home wherever she lands. Now living in one of Maine’s university towns, Christina has recently been inspired by the rugged coastline of the Pine Tree State. She notes an interesting narrative intersection between geography and the old photos that often provide a starting place for her work. Join our conversation with one of the Portland Art Gallery’s newest artists, Christina Thwaites, on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Growing up in the land of the Razorbacks, it is perhaps not surprising that James Bonner is a former football player and sports enthusiast. More intriguing is the longstanding attraction that this Little Rock, Arkansas native has felt toward Maine art and artists. This first manifested as an attraction to the work of the Wyeth family. Drawn to Andrew Wyeth in particular, James began a decades-long love affair with Maine, traveling frequently to the state’s Mid-coast region to immerse himself in the environment that has inspired countless creative spirits. James has become known for his attention to detail, using a painstaking multi-layered process to create simplified yet evocative Maine scenes. We explore the inexplicable allure of our beloved Pine Tree State with James Bonner on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Emma Wilson has become intimately familiar with the challenges of managing an art gallery during a pandemic, including the potential impact on the livelihoods of artists. With a roster of over 55 Maine-centric artists, the importance of continuing to meet high standards at the Portland Art Gallery cannot be overstated. As the director, Emma worked with her team to meet and exceed these standards, in part by finding new ways to connect with art lovers around the world. Please join our conversation with Emma Wilson on the first episode of season two of Radio Maine.
Artist Scott Bowe has long been inspired by the ocean. He spent his formative years enjoying summers at the coastal Maine property his great grandfather acquired. As a college student, he participated in the Semester at Sea program, where he expanded his senses as he traveled around the world. It wasn’t until he was pursuing an acting career in Los Angeles that Scott began to experiment with art. He adopted a method of painting first created by Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros, who developed a process called acrylic flow painting, or acrylic pour painting, in the 1930’s. This technique allowed him to explore themes of aquatically-inspired movement and constant change. Join our conversation with Scott Bowe on this episode of Radio Maine with Dr. Lisa Belisle.
With her graduate degree in clinical psychology, artist Laurie Fisher has been trained to look for, and understand, the factors that fundamentally make us who we are, and who we might be. She has used these in her own creative development, as both a writer and an artist. Laurie speaks eloquently about her creative path, the uncertainties that plague most artists, and the joy of meeting advocates and supporters who have furthered her career and contributed to her artistic confidence. A relatively new addition to the artist roster at Portland Art Gallery, Laurie has had notable national art gallery representation for many years. Please join Dr. Lisa Belisle on Radio Maine for our conversation with artist Laurie Fisher.
By the time Sage Tucker-Ketcham entered high school in Virginia, she and her mother had moved over 20 times. Their travels took them throughout the U.S. and Europe, with memorable stays in England and Italy. Sage’s mother, herself an artist and musician, made sure that art played an important part in their experience. Sage went on to obtain a more formal art education from the Maine College of Art in Portland, before eventually returning to Burlington, Vermont, where she now lives with her husband and son. Her paintings suggest an interesting blend of stasis and movement, likely informed by her own peripatetic past, weaving the transitional nuances of seasons and time of day with comforting depictions of home. Learn more about Portland Art Gallery artist Sage Tucker-Ketcham on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Matthew Barter has always approached his artistic training, and his life, in a unique manner. Homeschooled in rural Downeast Maine, his parents exposed him to art, art galleries and the working waterfront from a young age. His father, himself an artist and fisherman, served as one of his early role models. Over time, Matt moved from working construction jobs to becoming a full-time artist and sculptor. His dedication to both persistence and play has put him on track to be one of Maine’s iconic artists. Join our conversation with Matt Barter on this week’s episode of Radio Maine.
Ed Wintner had more than a fleeting passion for art while in high school, and took his studies seriously at the Philadelphia College of Art (now part of the University of the Arts) during those years. His career would, however, take a very different path. After earning a PhD in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, he joined the fast-paced biotechnology world, on the front line of drug discovery. After successfully launching two biotech start-ups, Ed made the decision not to remain in that field, instead returning to his early love and devoting himself full-time to being an artist. Ed draws parallels between the seemingly unrelated professions as he describes the neurologic processes involved, and the uncertainty of discovery inherent to each. Learn more about Portland Art Gallery artist Ed Wintner, and his unique artistic style, on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Artist MJ Benson loves swimming in the ocean, and the accompanying profound, visceral sense of the balance between breathing and not. What she experiences so deeply in that realm is reflected in the play between light and dark in her abstract landscapes. MJ is highly attuned to emotional contrasts: her sorrow over her brother’s death from cancer in the midst of COVID generated a renewed appreciation for her family, her friends and her life in Maine. Over the past two years, MJ poured this appreciation into her art, and her paintings soared as a result. Today’s conversation with MJ Benson provides a glimpse into an artist’s emotional experience and the impact it has on her art.
Anne Heywood was an accomplished full-time artist and gallery owner when, in February 2020, her husband of thirty years passed away suddenly. Still navigating her grief, she assumed the role of CEO of her late husband’s engineering firm as a global pandemic unfolded. Her resilience and fortitude kept the business moving forward, enabling The Thompson & Lichtner Co., Inc. to celebrate its 125th year that October. Two years later, Anne is still running the Canton, Massachusetts-based company, while once again finding time to visit her beloved home in Waldoboro, Maine and resume painting the Maine scenes that bring her peace.
Matthew Russ was born in Portland, Maine and raised in nearby Cape Elizabeth. He earned a B.A. from Colby College, majoring in studio art with a concentration in oil painting, during which time he studied for one year at Crawford College of Art in Cork, Ireland. He lives with his wife KC in Waterville, where he maintains a studio. Matt celebrates Maine’s landscape in his paintings. He paints from life, working outdoors in all seasons and often backpacking into remote locations. He favors protected lands, such as Maine State Parks, the Kennebec Highlands, the Morse Mountain Conservation Area, and islands along the Maine Island Trail. Matt is represented by Portland Art Gallery.
When Maine artist Dan Daly leaves his house, he checks off the essentials: keys, wallet, sketchbook. Over the past several decades, he has filled hundreds of sketchbooks with ideas and inspiration from his day-to-day travels. It’s not only images that capture his attention--Dan is equally drawn to people and their stories. He easily relates to people from a broad range of backgrounds, from the janitorial crew he worked with to make money so he could go back to college, to the inmates with whom he volunteered at the Maine State Prison. His sketchbooks, and his stories, reflect deep bonds with people and the world. Join our conversation with Dan Daly on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Steve Rogers has an appreciation for history, tradition, and service. This, in addition to his lifelong fascination with the ocean, boatbuilders and, (as he refers to them) “watermen,” has resulted in an almost documentary feel to many of his works: his attention to detail related to the working waterfront is unparalleled. On today’s episode of Radio Maine, Steve talks about his rare, but much anticipated, childhood trips to the Jersey Shore where he first fell in love to access to the water, his time teaching model boat building at the legendary Wooden Boat School in Brooklin Maine, and his personal commitment to leadership and giving back to his community. You’ll look at his work differently after listening to our conversation with Steve Rogers on Radio Maine.
Willa Vennema’s life is as wonderfully layered as the encaustic pieces she creates. Raised by art-loving parents in New York City, she became a talented flautist, attending what is now called the LaGuardia High School of Music & Performing Arts—the school that inspired the ‘80 film, television series and musical, “Fame.” She also began a decades-long relationship with Swan’s Island, a remote enclave in Hancock County, Maine that claims its own musical connection through the 32-year-old Sweet Chariot Music Festival. While studying at Oberlin College and Conservatory in Ohio, Willa realized a newfound passion for the visual arts, spurred on by courses in art history and printmaking. She would go on to become an arts-focused preschool teacher, eventually moving with her family to Southern Maine. Throughout this time, Swan’s Island has remained her muse, and her art—developed through layers of color and wax–an embodiment of her continued evolution. Join our conversation with Willa Vennema on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Sculptor David Moser has creativity woven into his DNA. A member of the Maine family known for the Thos Moser furniture company, David learned much from its entrepreneurial founder–his father, Tom. The wisdom that he gained, alongside his three brothers, would influence an early interest in business and economics. His comfort in working with his hands would eventually lend itself to the craft of sculpting, an artistic endeavor that he now pursues full-time. In this first Radio Maine episode of the New Year, David willingly explores the emotional depths, and vulnerabilities, inherent in this choice. Thank you for joining our conversation.
Artist Doug Caves has an affinity for the natural space afforded by rural New England. “It understands me and I understand it,” he says. Doug translates the energy he feels from the environment onto his paintings. Whether teaching artists, or pursuing his own art, Doug believes in taking a deliberate approach to exploration, discovery, and invention. His own explorations have led him to consider conflicting family guidance, a search for meaning, and whether his work “matters.” He suggests that the journey of discovery, as it relates both to knowing one’s own self and the external space one inhabits, is its own reward. Join our conversation with Doug Caves on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Julie Houck began life as a traveler, moving several times for her father’s career. This pattern repeated itself in her later years. After attending art school, she became a highly sought-after commercial photographer who traversed the globe shooting for corporations, as well as publications such as Business Week, Newsweek, Forbes, The New Yorker, and U.S. News & World Report. The accumulated miles, and the transition of photography from film to digital, motivated her to change her professional course after 20 years, and seek additional training in San Francisco and Paris. The worldwide landscape continues to inspire Julie’s art, although now she is now more likely to be exploring places by bike than by plane, near her studios located in Hawaii and Maine. Join our conversation with Julie Houck on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Carol Bass approaches life with an innate empathy, compassion and joy. A love for people and adventure brought her to Maine after college, and she stayed to raise a family, develop her art career and start a successful business. She moved to South Carolina after her children had grown, with the idea of reconnecting with family, but the draw to Maine was too strong. After a decade, she and her husband moved back. Now, you can find Carol living quietly in Pownal Maine, painting incessantly, and loving life despite challenges caused by multiple sclerosis. Carol talks passionately about living, absolutely, in the present, intentionally forgetting what came before, and about her need to finally come home. Join our conversation on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Kim Case began her creative journey as a photojournalist. After growing up in central New Hampshire, she trained in art history and photojournalism at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University in Boston. Finding the field of photojournalism difficult to break into, she went on to photograph weddings, using images to create narratives of a couple’s special day. She eventually became editor of the first home and design magazine in New England. Her paintings often reflect a storytelling approach, whether depicting a farmhouse swing framed by the White Mountains, or a fisherman’s shack on Casco Bay. Kim now paints from her studio in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where she has made a home with her husband and son. Listen to our conversation with Kim Case today on Radio Maine.
Back to the Land
Inspired by Scott and Helen Nearing’s classic “back-to-the-land” book, Living the Good Life, Nina Fuller first came to Maine in 1972. Being close to nature had taken root in her psyche from early days spent on her parent’s farm in Connecticut, and she sought this same agricultural connection for her own family. When her Maine dreams imploded with a series of life transitions, Nina knew she would someday return to the bucolic tranquility she had previously found. After raising her children and building a successful career as a commercial photographer, Nina reestablished herself on her very own sheep farm in Hollis, Maine. Nina has entered the latest phase in her photography career from this location, creating fine art prints documenting her life as a sheep farmer. Join us in discussing Nina’s journey back to the land on this week’s episode of Radio Maine.
Holly Smith’s New England connections run deep: she can trace her family lineage back to the Mayflower. Her great grandfather, Captain George Lane, used to sail from Rockport, Maine to the West Indies, carrying lime and lumber. Maine has been home her entire life, and she has taken full advantage of access to its islands, including Eagle, Monhegan and Vinalhaven. With loving encouragement from both her mother and father, she immersed herself in art from a young age, attended the Portland-Gorham area teachers college that would eventually become the University of Southern Maine, and spent 31 years teaching art and photography in public schools. After exploring several different avenues for getting her work into the homes of collectors, Holly decided to join the Portland Art Gallery. Learn more about Maine artist Holly Smith on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Martha Burkert’s successful career as a photography stylist taught her much about perspective, subtracting from a scene, and proper lighting--each of which has been important to her art. Martha attended the Maine College of Art in Portland later in life, at the suggestion of several artist friends. One of her early influences was artist and author Alfred “Chip” Chadbourn, with whom she shares a connection to Yarmouth, Maine. She brings her knowledge of photography and art forward into her pieces, many of which incorporate elements that are reminiscent of home life, including ceramics and garden flowers. Martha currently divides her time between her Texas home and her family cottage on Cousins Island in Maine. Watch, or listen, to this episode of Radio Maine to learn more about artist, Martha Burkert.
An undergraduate finance major at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Dick Alden did not anticipate that he would enjoy his ceramics class as much as he did. In contrast to work he did in his other classes, he found that the process of doing something “not exact” was very appealing. Putting his interest in art on hold, he went on to pursue a career with State Street Bank in Boston, while raising a family and studying for a master’s in business administration over many nights and weekends. Then, after taking a wood carving course in his mid-forties, Dick began creating stern boards for his friends’ sailboats. A museum exhibit based on the influential Black Mountain College in North Carolina started him down the path of stone sculpting. Learn more about Dick Alden’s artistic endeavors, lovingly undertaken with the support of his wife Priscilla and the stone sculpture community, on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
J. Rodney Dennis is committed to his craft. For months, he took a late flight out of Washington DC bound for Boston, every Thursday night after his compressed 4-day work week had ended. He did this so that he could spend weekends attending the Academy of Realist Art. As a result of this serious academic pursuit, and countless hours of painting, his pieces display a level of precision that appears almost photographic in quality. After sharing Academy classes with him, artist and Portland Art Gallery staff member Missy Dunaway was so impressed with his talent and work ethic that she advocated for him to join our Maine-based gallery. We are fortunate that he agreed. Learn more about artist Rodney Dennis, and his exceptional realistic style, on this episode of Radio Maine.
In the field of computer science, abstraction refers to the process of taking away, or removing less relevant characteristics, in order to get to what is most essential. Using that definition, Jodi Edward’s life, like her art, has been a process of abstraction, leading to her current existence on a bucolic family farm in Surry, Maine. Jodi traces her journey from an education at the Parsons School of Design in New York City, across a trajectory of varied experiences, including waitressing, singing, teaching and posing as an art model. The energy of her courage, and willingness to engage and take risks, shines through her colorful, ebullient pieces, creating a manifestation of abstraction that is entirely her own. Join our conversation with Jodi Edwards on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
For Brenda Cirioni, art has provided an opportunity for both catharsis and joy. While attending a retreat as an adult, she reconnected with feelings around a fire that destroyed her family’s home when she was 16-years-old--an event that was found to have been caused by arson. This emotional touchpoint became the impetus for a body of work that spanned several years, and eventually provided her with a sense of closure around the tragedy. More recently, she countered the challenges of COVID by finding joyful inspiration in her gardens, creating a series of floral abstracts. Learn more about Brenda’s experience with the interplay between art and emotion on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Stephanie Brown understands that food and family are foundational elements of a life well-lived. Trained as a chef at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, her professional pursuits are the continuation of a personal legacy reflected in memories of homemade pasta drying in the bedroom of her grandparents’ four story walk-up in Boston’s North End. Her decades-long career encompasses a love for food and people that has most recently manifested in co-ownership of North 43 Bistro in South Portland, Maine. Stephanie is beloved for the joy she brings to catered events, from intimate weddings to corporate events--not to mention pre-COVID art openings at our own Portland Art Gallery. Learn more about Stephanie’s commitment to building community through breaking bread on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Fred Williams traces his love for art back to his childhood, when he accompanied his parents on a visit to an artist’s studio located on Hancock Point in Downeast Maine. From a longstanding Maine family, his parents met at the University of Maine in Orono, and bought their first piece of art from one of their professors. Fred says that connecting with artists is something that he treasures to this day, as he continues to surround himself with art at his home in Portland, Maine. The founder of the well-respected investment management firm, Old Port Advisors in Portland, Fred has been in the financial services business for four decades. He has supported non-profit organizations--many of them with an art focus--equally as long. Joining Radio Maine from his Munjoy Hill home, Fred shares his deep respect for and admiration of artists William Crosby, Joyce Grasso, Fred Lynch, Missy Asen and many more. Listen in to learn more about Fred’s art collecting, philanthropy and professional transition, this week on Radio Maine with Dr. Lisa Belisle.
By his own admission, Cooper Dragonette “could not tell the bow from the stern,” when first hired as a sailing instructor by Maine’s Hurricane Island Outward Bound School in Penobscot Bay. Raised in Easton, Connecticut, he spent several years in landlocked Arizona working toward a degree in education, and had come away longing for the coast. His unanticipated Hurricane Island experience initiated an interplay between art and the outdoors that continues in his life to this day. Now a resident of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Cooper balances raising his young children with plein air painting, and teaching workshops in this genre. Get to know Cooper and better understand the influences that contribute to his much sought-after Maine landscapes in today’s Radio Maine interview with Dr. Lisa Belisle.
Artist Matt Chamberlain has always felt an urge to paint. Although he pursued his passion at the Maine College of Art (MECA) in Portland, he initially felt uncertain about how to make a living through his art. With this in mind, he picked up a “real” job as a prep cook at Portland’s venerable farm-to-table restaurant, Fore Street. The experience, a total immersion into food service, set Matt on another creative path as a chef, which eventually led to his owning a Portland-based catering business. It wasn’t until years later, when the stress of operating a food business reached a peak, that he returned to the art studio. To his surprise, there was much for him to say on the canvas, and a group of art collectors who were more than willing to hear it. Now, Matt makes his living creating art as one of the most recent additions to the Portland Art Gallery. Hear more about Matt’s story on this episode of Radio Maine with Dr. Lisa Belisle.
Artist Ann Trainor Domingue, and her eight siblings, grew up in the oceanside community of Barrington, Rhode Island. There is little doubt that her relationship with the coast and devotion to family have informed her artwork. Ann’s paintings are unmistakable, offering her own distinctive depiction of family and working life on the New England waterfront. In this free-ranging interview, we talk about her childhood camping trips, her husband’s childcare business--and the impact of COVID-19 on that business--and pay homage to children’s book authors Eric Carle and Tomie Paola, as well the poetry of Mary Oliver. You’ll learn why Ann is beloved by collectors and Portland Art Gallery artists alike in today’s Radio Maine Interview with Dr. Lisa Belisle.
Emma McHold Burke started working with the Portland Art Gallery just as Covid was causing small businesses like the gallery to “shift direction.” She had recently graduated from the Tyler School of Art in Pennsylvania after gaining an education in painting and art history, and had planned her next life steps around the Philadelphia community in which Tyler is located. With the uncertainty of the pandemic looming, Emma reluctantly gave up her post-college apartment and moved to her family home in Maine. Wanting to maintain her connection to the art world, Emma reached out to the gallery. When she learned that the gallery, as a non-essential business, had been instructed to close its doors to the public, she volunteered to work behind the scenes. Her work ethic and enthusiasm were immediately evident. She was soon offered a paid position, and her willingness to work through strange and challenging times eventually earned her the position of gallery manager. Learn about the power of creativity, and the importance of resilience, in Emma’s conversation with Dr. Lisa Belisle on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
Artist Jean Jack has earned a reputation for her unique, and now iconic, rendition of New England-style farmhouses and barns. Although she had no personal experience growing up in or around these structures, she found herself mesmerized by a particular farmhouse in Connecticut while in the early stages of her artistic career. After surreptitiously photographing this structure, she painted her own version and entered it in a competition at the famed Silvermine School of Art in New Canaan, Connecticut. Her competition win affirmed her passion for the subject matter. While subsequently living in Santa Fe, New Mexico she continued to trek hours to America’s farming heartland for inspiration. In addition to pursuing her art, including time spent operating her own art and antique gallery, Jean spent years traveling around the country, supporting her husband’s military service and career and raising their children. She and her husband, Claude, eventually settled here in Maine. Learn more about Jean’s creative journey through her conversation with Dr. Lisa Belisle on this week’s episode of Radio Maine.
Dr. Jarrod Daniel defies easy categorization. A former professional hockey player from Canada, his travels and educational path have taken him all over the world. Now a Portland-based surgeon, he has been married for more than two decades to a woman who grew up in Bangor, Maine and Paris, France. Jarrod and Frederique have chosen to raise their four children on a small Maine island, in a home filled with art from both in-state and away. Learn more about Dr. Jarrod Daniel and his global trajectory on this week’s episode of Radio Maine with Dr. Lisa Belisle.
Artist Ann Sklar was a printmaking major in college--not because she loved printmaking, but because of the charismatic female professor who led the program. From this professor, Ann learned much more about life and work than one might expect from a college course of study. The professor went on to become a provost at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and Ann went on to co-found three art galleries. One of these is a Philadelphia-area female artist cooperative that still exists today. Ann brings a mindful and determined discipline to her work: a discipline she developed over years spent balancing the demands of her business ventures, young children and her own art practice. We’re fortunate to have Ann here in Maine during the summer months, where she resides in a home she built with her husband, Henry, along the banks of the Kennebec River in Woolwich. Please join us on today’s Radio Maine, as we talk about life and work with Portland Art Gallery artist, Ann Sklar.
Creating a Life on Her Terms
Vanessa Helmick started her Maine interior design business, Fiore Interiors, using a unique approach: she ignored all of her well-intentioned advisors, and made decisions that were best for her. She avoided networking, she moved out of the city of Portland, and she chose clients that she liked and who liked her aesthetic. Vanessa’s aesthetic, one that she describes as “Scandi Beach,” is a combination of Scandanavian minimalism and a heavily textured coastal experience. With each of her projects, she incorporates art into her design and engages with her clients to choose signature pieces that will enhance their daily lives. Vanessa’s own daily life has taken her to Yarmouth where she is raising her daughter, and their new pup, minutes away from her new storefront, located near the bustling boatyards of the Royal River. You’ll enjoy getting to know more about Vanessa’s personal and professional style on today’s episode of Radio Maine with Dr. Lisa Belisle. Thank you for joining our Radio Maine community.
The Power of Being Oneself and More
Bill Crosby exemplifies the dualistic nature of many artists. He is both a photographer and a painter, who worked for decades as an art professor, while actively practicing his own craft. Bill reminds us that, as the poet Charles Baudelaire suggests, “An artist is only an artist on condition that he neglects no aspect of his dual nature…the power of being oneself and someone else at the same time.” Bill has enjoyed a longstanding personal and professional partnership with his wife, Pat. They divide their time between homes in Plattsburgh, New York and South Thomaston, Maine. Bill and Pat are passionate about kayaking the St. George River from his home in Maine. These frequent summer excursions, as well as travels throughout New England, continue to inform and inspire Bill’s signature abstract painting. Hear more about Bill’s rich and complex life and art as you join in his conversation with Dr. Lisa Belisle on Radio Maine.
Art as the Great Connector
There is much about Portland Art Gallery director Emma Wilson that may surprise you. Emma has been a traveling military spouse (caring for three children while their father served in Iraq), spent time as a social worker, and has strong ties to the non-profit world. Her early love of art, growing up with access to New York’s renowned museums, stayed with her as she moved around the country. She realized quickly that art is a tie that binds, and sought out the company of like-minded art-loving souls wherever she went. Emma and her family eventually moved to Maine, returning to a place that she had first gotten to know as a child, during extended summer stays on Casco Bay’s Long Island. In this episode of Radio Maine, host Dr. Lisa Belisle speaks with Emma about her love of Maine, art and family, and about forging a new way forward through Covid for Portland Art Gallery artists, and the community that supports them.
Pursuing a Career in Animation
Aniella Salko’s career path seemed pre-ordained. The “family business” was medicine. For years she had imagined being a doctor, a surgeon, or maybe a scientist. At the same time, her sketchbooks and school art classes were an important part of her early years. As she progressed in high school, Aniella realized that she wanted to do something that she loved. After much consideration, and with the full support of her parents, Aniella chose to attend the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. Her first year of college was unusual and challenging due to the pandemic, but Aniella knows that she has made the right decision. Her dream is to work eventually with Pixar (more formally known as Pixar Animation Studios), in Emeryville, California. Hear more about Aniella’s process of moving her dreams toward reality with Dr. Lisa Belisle on today’s episode of Radio Maine.
John “Jack” Gable has been a full-time artist for more than four decades after an equally successful career in automobile design. Jack trained to work for his initial profession at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California. While there he explored artistic creation in various forms, affording him the opportunity to transition between watercolors, oils, acrylics and other mediums. In 1980, he left his original dream job as a designer for the Trans Am Firebird at General Motors in Detroit, Michigan, and moved his young family across the country to the small Maine enclave of Kennebunkport. Jack now lives in Woolwich, Maine. He works from a studio that is 50 feet long - giving him room to create massive, commissioned murals. He has also remained immersed in, and painted, the worlds of America’s Cup sailing, and competitive rowing. He does the same for automobile events and competitions around the globe. Jack has pieces in the Smithsonian and the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington DC, as well as numerous private collections.
Rick Hamilton has had many careers, but he has always been an artist at heart. In addition to traveling the world while in the Navy, he has worked as a framer, a machinist and a salesperson. Throughout these adventures, Rick remained connected to a creative spirit that was reignited by a chance encounter with a young artist on the Eastern Prom in Portland. While he names Picasso, Modigliani, and Basquiat as influences, Rick is humble about his work and suggests that “anyone could do what I do.” Most people would respectfully disagree with his assertion. Rick, with his impressive work ethic and commitment to his now full-time artistic career, has emerged as an incredible talent with a unique signature style. Join Dr. Lisa Belisle on episode 18 of Radio Maine, and find yourself transported to the magical world of Portland Art Gallery artist Rick Hamilton.
Page Eastburn O’Rourke brings joy to people of all ages. A full-time artist and children’s book illustrator, she developed her artistic style at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where she was heavily influenced by the color work of Josef Albers, and then Parsons School of Design in New York City. Page is beloved in the Yarmouth Maine area, and her travels have allowed her to introduce what she describes as “pop folk art” to countless others around the state. Join us on Radio Maine as we explore Page’s personal journey, and find out how it has influenced her unique approach to art and life.
Radio Maine Episode 16: Alexandra Maurer
Alexandra Maurer is passionate about her work—both as an artist and an acupuncturist, two topics she is willing to explore deeply. In this episode of Radio Maine, she also touches upon the ideas of “fledging” one’s children, finding one’s voice, and embracing what Alexandra calls her maintenance phase. With her recent decision to join the Portland Art Gallery community, Alexandra has continued her commitment to creativity. Join us for Episode 16 of Radio Maine with Dr. Lisa Belisle.
Heather Shields grew up on North Haven, a remote Maine island with a year-round population of 350. Reaching the mainland by ferry boat was a 75 minute commitment – one way. Join Dr. Lisa Belisle as she discusses Heather’s formative island years that led her to understand, profoundly, that we all must learn how to get along. Heather built upon the foundation of her childhood experiences when she became a single mom living in the greater Portland Maine area and entered the now frenzied world of Maine residential real estate. Heather also reflects on the work of Portland Art Gallery artist, and fellow North Haven native, Eric Hopkins. If you’re not currently living in Maine, you’ll want to move here after listening to Heather Shields.
Architect Josh Lowe lives with his wife and daughter on a coastal Maine island—a decision that was as carefully considered as the process he uses for design creation. Less than three years ago, their young family was in San Francisco, with Josh working on residential and commercial projects coming out of the Bay Area tech boom. Many of their friends were transplants like themselves, who had moved to the area early in their careers in order to gain experience among their intellectual peers, and over time gradually moved away again. As their daughter got older, Josh and his wife, Carleigh, decided to seek a community with more stability: a place where people stay, and where they could raise their daughter to sail, ski and otherwise appreciate a close connection with the outdoors. On this episode of Radio Maine, Dr. Lisa Belisle explores Josh’s physical journey from Delaware to Mill Valley, with stops in Prague and Rome along the way, his professional journey from art student to builder to architect, and his personal journey into fatherhood, navigating the shifting priorities that come with having a young family. Thank you for joining us in this conversation of conscious life design, and for being part of our Radio Maine community.
It is said that change is constant, and most people will agree this is true. Along with change, which may be symbolized by an external shift in circumstances such as a birthday or retirement, we transition to new roles by revising our internal perceptions of ourselves and our interaction with the world. This may also take place during travel, and through finding art where it may not have previously existed. Join Dr. Lisa Belisle on the road this week as she reflects on the topic of change for Radio Maine.
"As the world reopens, there is a strange reawakening that we're all experiencing as the springtime has woken up the birds and the buds are on the trees. Some of us are planting our gardens. We are realizing that things that we thought we lost over the last year were there all along. Maybe that's what creativity is; the ability to have things continue on. Maybe despite us, while our focus is elsewhere, things could still be happening while dormant, lying in wait in the fallow field, ready to emerge when the time is right."
Have you ever wondered about how priceless artwork gets moved from one location to another? Artist Stew Henderson has the answer. He recently retired after two decades working in Maine’s fine arts world: first with the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, and then as the senior preparator at the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville. In this latest episode of Radio Maine, Stew talks to Dr. Lisa Belisle about this work, his experience acting as an art courier and his own unique artistic style.
Artist Helen Lewis creates her pieces, in part, by adding layer upon layer of molten beeswax to a panel, and scraping it away. This process creates great depth and luminosity. This practice reflects her life’s work of finding meaning from what remains after loss. Helen’s mother died suddenly when she was five-years-old. Soon after, her father brought Helen and her brothers on a trip to New Orleans that was meant to be restorative. Things did not go as planned, nor did the remainder of Helen’s childhood years. Helen’s art is clearly informed by her early heartbreaking experience and dedication to her own emotional healing. Prepare to be impacted by Helen’s compelling story, as described to Dr. Lisa Belisle, in this episode of Radio Maine.
Hadley Powell has spent a lifetime “training her eye” when it comes to art. Visits to art museums were an integral part of her childhood vacations and time at Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine expanded her view. She went on to complete formal educational programs in art at Union College and with Christie’s world-renowned art institute. Now, in tandem with nurturing her young family, Hadley is maturing her art consulting business, Powell Fine Art Advisory. Listen to this Farmington, Maine native talk about art, family, entrepreneurship, and her never-ending and always evolving love of art.
Dr. Brooke Jackson is a practicing clinical psychologist living in San Rafael, California. She is also a lover of art, lifelong learner and gardener. Join us for episode eight, as Brooke tells us about searching for, and finding, her genuine life path after a career trajectory that included jobs as a paralegal and educator, before returning to college later in life to earn her PhD in psychology. Feeling blessed that she could still work remotely as COVID lockdowns happened, Brooke made a determined decision to continue her support of independent booksellers, artists and her favorite non-profits. Her connection to Maine pre-dated her relationship with the Portland Art Gallery by 30 years, with her family’s annual cross-country trips from California to Maine. Her extended family now gathers whenever possible in a small, seasonal lodge on the shores of Moosehead Lake in Greenville, Maine. Watch and learn more about the important work that Brooke does with her clients and view the original art that she has on her walls. Thank you for joining us every Sunday for Radio Maine, and being part of our creative community.
Carlos Gamez de Francisco knew that he wanted to emigrate from Cuba to the United States when he was 14-years-old. According to Carlos, the generation before him had moved to Cuba for opportunity, and now his generation was leaving for opportunity. After early studies in dance, at age 15 Carlos began devoting his time to studying and perfecting his art. He would eventually find his way to the U.S. where he took the first available job in a warehouse while continuing to create art. Within months, and after learning English by repeating 100 words 11 times each day, Carlos talked his way into gallery representation, had his first solo art show and sold it out. He promptly quit his warehouse job and became a full-time artist. Carlos' determined commitment to hard work, discipline, and constant learning is an inspiration for us all.
In this episode, Lisa Belisle connects with California-based artist, Andrew Faulkner. Andrew has an unusually rich lineage of creativity. His great-grandfather was an accomplished professional artist who traveled regularly to Europe for inspiration before returning to Connecticut to paint. His grandfather, father and brother are architects. Andrew’s mother was an interior designer. However, Andrew entered Trinity College prepared to obtain a more practical education in English, or Psychology, before finishing with a degree in Fine Arts. After a successful 30 year career in graphic design, Andrew started his “real job” as a professional artist. Learn more about Andrew Faulkner in Episode 6.
Dietlind Vander Schaaf’s life, as Walt Whitman might suggest, “contains multitudes.” Not only is she an artist and teacher of art, she is also a writer and yoga teacher who has undergraduate and masters degrees in history (as well as a masters of fine art in writing!) Lisa Belisle’s interview with Dietlind explores her unique practice of creating encaustic art on wood panels: a laborious process of applying layer after layer of hot wax, paint and, in her case, 23-karat gold leaf. Hear about her artistic evolution, including four years spent working through perceived failure, and ultimate emergence with a renewed faith in herself. Dietlind also speaks about her love of languages, imposter syndrome and the personal satisfaction she gets from teaching workshops.
Dr. Lisa Belisle connects with artist Jane Dahmen in her Newcastle, Maine home for Episode 4 of Radio Maine. Jane has created a well-established art practice over the course of 50+ years. She was first introduced to Maine as a student at Colby College in Waterville and, after vacationing here for several years, moved to Newcastle full time with her husband, Joe, in 2005. Jane talks about overcoming challenges, including Joe's diagnosis and eventual death due to Alzheimer's disease, by looking inward to find answers. Jane also speaks about her passion for interviewing artists and curators at her popular "Talking Art in Maine" series in Damariscotta, Maine. She's led conversations with artists Alex Katz, Lois Dodd, Katherine Bradford, Eric Hopkins, Michel Droge, and many others, as well as museum luminaries such as Sharon Corwin, Suzette McAvoy and Mark Bessire.
Our host, Dr. Lisa Belisle, is one of ten siblings. Her father's 50-year career as a family physician led her toward a similar professional path adding studies in pubic health (MPH), acupuncture and business (MBA). While she's currently in a primary care leadership role for a Maine-based healthcare system, she has always continued a parallel path as an on-air interviewer, writer and presenter. Learn more about Lisa, as well as her appreciation for work by artist, Willa Vennema, in this episode.
Artist Missy Dunaway joins Dr. Lisa Belisle for our second episode of Radio Maine. They discuss Missy's earliest recollections of wanting to become an artist, her military upbringing, and her wanderlust that led to travel around the globe. Missy tells us about her Fulbright Scholarship that sent her to Turkey where she studied textiles and where she began her visual travel journals. We also hear about her new quarantine pet, Carrot the chicken! Missy is one of the featured artists at the Portland Art Gallery in March 2021.
In our inaugural episode of Radio Maine, Dr. Lisa Belisle has a conversation with Gallery Director, Emma Wilson. They talk about the past year of doing business during Covid and how the gallery, and artists, forged a path forward while taking care to provide needed connection, communication and compassion along the way. Hear about how the team at the Portland Art Gallery expanded their artist roster and available artwork to offer more creative space for their artists and more options for their loyal art buyers and collectors from Maine to Hong Kong. Watch, listen and get to know us.