Radio Maine Episode 63: Nikki Fontaine

 

5/22/2022

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Hello. I'm Dr. Lisa Belisle  and you are listening to, or watching, Radio Maine.  Today, I have with me a member of our Portland Art Gallery team, and also an artist in her own right, Nikki Fontaine.

Thanks for coming in. 

 

Nikki Fontaine:

Thank you. Thank you for having me. I'm very excited to be here.

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Nikki. I love all of the different things you have done in your life. 

 

Nikki Fontaine:

Oh, thank you for saying that. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Yes, you've done everything. You've been a makeup artist. You are an artist on paper. You've been in New York, you've been in Maine. You have a family background in film. You're married to someone who has a music background. I feel like you've got a lot of bases covered. 

 

Nikki Fontaine:

We're a very artistic, creative family. It's how I grew up. Everything was about creativity and creativity was really nurtured in my house. I'm so grateful because now I've gone into the world and met so many different artists and so many different people. And, we all come from so many different journeys. I feel really grateful to have had the journey that I had and have the parents that I had that really encouraged myself and my brother. They still are champions of our art and all the multi different creative practices that we embark on.

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

Where did you grow up? 

 

Nikki Fontaine:

I grew up in rural Massachusetts; it's considered Western Massachusetts. It was a little town called Charlton that is about an hour west of Boston.  It's a very small farming town where my dad actually built this house in the middle of the woods that we lived in. And it was in the middle of two farms.  I used to tell people to come down the road, past the cows and the chickens, and when you've hit the llamas you've gone too far. So yes, we lived in this really beautiful house that my father built. He was a video producer so he had a studio in our house. It was constantly filled with people coming over to record and do voiceovers and he would make commercials. And then my brother and I, we were really into makeup and characters and effects.  It was just a nice little life we had there in that little small cutout of central Massachusetts. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

So when you say you were into characters and effects, tell me about some of the things that you used to do as children. I mean, most people are like, you know, I was on the soccer team. But that's a different thing you're saying.


Nikki Fontaine:

Yes, that was not us. 

 

Nikki Fontaine:

We were much more the artsy kids and I think everyone was like “what are these kids doing?” And thankfully, my parents were super supportive. My dad was also a painter, an oil painter, and he was incredible. He was a multidisciplinary artist as well as a film collector. So from a young age my brother Mike and I were really exposed to film. We loved watching how the characters transformed themselves. And we loved watching the behind the scenes. When my brother was around four years old, my dad showed him Michael Jackson's Thriller, (he got a lot of flack for later in life because it's a little bit of a scary video and he was a four year old), and Mike loved it. He just constantly wanted to make himself up into these monsters. 

 

Nikki Fontaine:

I was really enthralled by Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn and all of these beautiful women that I would see in my dad's film and how they would make themselves up and make themselves into these amazing characters. I always wanted to do the beauty side of it. So, we had makeup and costumes and clothes all over our house constantly. And I would always be making the beautiful side of things and my brother would be making the monsters. And then we would put on these little skits and my father would film it. Then, we would edit it. And that's where it all started. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

So it sounds like you had a very protected and creative environment from when you were growing up. And, then you went to New York.  How did you manage that transition? It seems like you went from a controlled space to a big, possibly chaotic, space.  What was that like? 

 

Nikki Fontaine:

New York is New York. It’s a beast. My brother and I always planned on going to California when we got out of high school. He ended up meeting up with this really amazing makeup artist who was doing a lot of films at the time. My brother left one day to go visit for the weekend in New York. He didn't come back for two years. So he was there in New York and I would constantly go out and visit him. He would be working on films and commercials and every now and again, he'd say, “we need a beauty makeup artist. Why don't you come on set and and do this?” So I began to travel back and forth. By that time, my parents had moved to Florida and I was living by myself in Massachusetts. It got to the point where it didn't really make sense for me to be in Massachusetts anymore. 

 

Nikki Fontaine:

When I moved to New York full time, I already had a network of people. I had jobs that I had already worked. But I still needed to carve out my own freelance career. That was tough. I had to have a lot of perseverance. And as you said, leaving behind my creative bubble in Massachusetts and being in this city where everybody's creative and everybody can do these amazing things was daunting. How do you set yourself apart?  There was one thing that I always came back to. It’s the intersection of, can you be creative, have a voice, be prepared and be skilled, but also show up and be kind, be compassionate, be someone that people want to have on set because you're spending a lot of time with these people. Can you make people feel comfortable? That's a big part of being on set and being a makeup artist. There's a lot of chaos around you. There's a lot of moving parts. Can you be a good person that people want to work with? I think that foundation that my brother and I both had brought us just as far as our skill of treating people well and being someone that people wanted to have around 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Is that a common approach for most people in your field?  Do most people make an effort to be kind and create a safe and welcoming space for the people they're working with?

 

Nikki Fontaine:

Yes, the people that I like to keep company with for sure. That's the whole beauty of working on set is that you meet these people that, still to this day, some of the talent that I've worked with are my close friends. One of my clients just got married last year, her career is blossoming, she's one of the lead correspondents on E news and she had this beautiful Nashville wedding.  I kind of put that energy out there, I attract those kinds of people in my life. Of course, there's people that don't have that approach but I try to let those people do their own thing and I find my groups. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

Yes. That's a really important thing to know that everybody has the right to be who they are but the people that you prefer to have in your sphere that make you who you are, to some extent, they're the ones that you're gonna choose and you're going to have them be a certain way. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Yes. The people that you know helped me because there were a lot of people that helped me get to the position that I was in. I had an amazing mentor makeup artist.  His name is Dick Smith. He's kind of credited as being the godfather of makeup.  My brother, when he was 10 years old, really wanted to call Dick Smith and ask him about movie makeup and monster makeup. And my dad had said, you know, if you get an A on your math test, you can call. And I forget how he had gotten the number, but my brother is just this, you know, he's kind of an enigmatic person. And this little 10 year old calls up Dick Smith and says: I wanna learn about monsters. And Dick was like, okay, I guess. And you know, it was kind of unheard of at the time, he's kind of a legend in our industry, but he really loved us and took us under his wing and taught my brother all about monsters and how to make, make monsters and movies. 

 

Nikki Fontaine:

But he was also a beauty makeup artist and he was credited with creating Audrey Hepburn's iconic eyebrows. And I remember being a little kid and him sitting me down and teaching me how to do it. And he became a really close family friend and we would go on family vacations together, but he always told us it was about passing the torch. Like if you know how to do something, you teach other people, you welcome other people in and between him and then Mike Marino, who's the owner of Prosthetic Renaissance in New York City who he was another one that is still like a brother to me. He took Mike and I under his wing and really like gave us the opportunity to work on these bigger jobs and took us, really took us in and just all of these people that I've had along the way that have been kind and compassionate and champions of my art and my creativity. And I've been really fortunate to find that. And I try to also, you know, live that way and do that and think about, you know, the other people that I'm around. And am I putting out that kind of kind as well? 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

So when you're, as you're talking, I'm thinking like every kind of art, there's so much about being a makeup artist that I really have never been exposed to. So what you're saying is that beauty makeup and being a beauty makeup artist is sort of one part of the field sounds like maybe, I don't know, monsters effects is another

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

It's special effects. Yes. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Special effects. That's another very specific place. What, what are other types of specialties within makeup? 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Well, I think it can be very nuanced, you know, or it can be, I think those are kind of the two, the two main categories of, you know, are you doing beauty? Are you doing glam? Are you doing editorial? Are you doing TV?  The things that my brother does are more prosthetic makeup. Like he just finished filming Batman. He did the penguin.  He was in London during quarantine, which was interesting. He had to quarantine in London, but the things that I did were yes, more beauty centralized. And I was doing a lot of daytime TV. I was the makeup department head of a television show.  So I would get the hosts ready which was also wonderful and really fun to have that relationship with someone if you're getting them ready every day before they go on camera. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

And then the other thing that I really loved that I did in New York was working on this show called Style Code Live through Amazon studios. And it gave me an opportunity because I would go on and do air segments every week. And I would create a beauty look and a beauty trend.  And then I would go on live TV and demo it. And I got to work with these amazing beauty producers and beauty editors and put the segments together and really project the trends and think about what we were putting together, what we wanted to show and having access to these products. And it was really a wonderful time. And then there's also an intersection of special effects in beauty makeup, which my brother and I worked on the Heidi Clem Halloween costumes, which was a lot of putting beauty makeup over prosthetics, which is something that hasn't been done a lot. And there were months of us just workshopping it and figuring it out. So even from working together at a young age, we got to then kind of grow and in our careers work together and they always kind of intersect. There's always those, those special projects where there's that intersection of prosthetics and, and beauty make, or, you know, people call it straight makeup, which is like day makeup.  You know, it's not glam, it's just making people look camera ready. So, Yes. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

Do you feel like there's been more of a call for the work that you have done in the past?  because we've gone to this very zoom forward world where, or everybody seems to be on camera a lot of the time. 

 

Nikki Fontaine:

Yes. That's actually a really great question. I haven't thought much about that. I know, you know, when Instagram came out and people were really into doing the beauty looks and YouTube and watching the beauty makeup and that's to answer your previous question, that's a whole different kind of makeup too. That's very glam and very put on and character centric. I know there was a shift then, but it's interesting. The pandemic kind of stopped our whole industry because film shut down, production shut down.  The show I was working on shut down, which is what brought us to Maine. He said, okay, well, let's, you know, go hang out in Damariscotta for a little bit and just let this blow over for a few weeks. Little, do we know two years later, we now live in Portland? So, Yes, it's, it's interesting. I haven't noticed so many people being interested in beauty makeup for zoom, but that might be a good business idea. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Well, I think you're right. I think a lot of people thought, oh, well, this is just temporary. And you know, I'm gonna go back to my office at some point. It doesn't really matter. But even as I'm working with patients, for example, and I'm doing zoom visits, I'm very aware of my lighting because not that I can care about necessarily looking fabulous, but I want them to be able to see my mouse so that they can, you know, read what I'm saying. You know, the interaction actually is more driven by the camera.

 

Nikki Fontaine:

Right. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

So I wonder if people are doing more teaching or they're doing more conferences online, if this will become something that could bubble up. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Yes. I actually really love that point of view. And it's interesting hearing you say, you know, I want them to see me and see my face and see, you know, my mouth moving. That's when we're on set, that's really what we're striving for with the makeup. How do we make this character look beautiful? But also, you have to adjust for the monitors and for the lighting. And part of being on set is babysitting a monitor and making sure that these characteristics of the character that you've created are being picked up and that things aren't really out of place. And it's interesting. I've never really thought of it that way of translating to zoom. And I kind of love that idea. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

Well, maybe you and I have a new business opportunity together that we can start talking about after after we get off the podcast, 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Maybe. Yes. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

I mean, I think what you're describing is really fascinating to me because I know from having worked on, you know, a radio show podcast televised work, that there's a lot that goes into it. I mean, there's the clothes that you can wear, the patterns, the colors, there's how your expressions come across, there's you and I were talking about zoom conversations and not talking over one another. And I think that many people don't really quite understand the level of thought that goes into creating something, particularly that's commercial. Let's just say.

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Yes, absolutely it's really, it's really nice to hear that, to be honest, because us creatives that have been working on set and have worked on films and commercials and editorial, there is so much behind the scenes that people don't see, they see that, you know, forward facing image. And I think you're right. I think people are starting to get a taste of what all of that background is that has to go into it to make the show go on. So yes, it's a great point. And it makes me really happy to hear that people are recognizing. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

Yes, no, I think, and even just hearing what you're talking about with regard to the different types of looks that you want people to have. You know, a daytime look that's different than, you know, an evening glam, a red carpet look and the idea you really have to be flexible and you have to have a skillset that enables you to say, okay, well I need their eyebrows to look this way during this time, their lips need to look this way during this time. I mean, that is an entire art form as you're describing it. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Yes, absolutely. And that's one of the things that's amazing is working with whether it's an actor or a talent, you have such an important part of helping them put on that character, even if they're a host of a show and going to play themselves, they're still playing a version of themselves and you're helping them put on that armor so that they can go out there and face all the cameras and face all the lights and face all the people that have expectations of them. It's a really special career and job. And it was sad during the pandemic when it all kind of ended, but it also created a think, a lot of more opportunities. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

Well, it sounds like in your case, it created a really interesting opportunity that you got to come back to Maine and be where your husband's family was originally from, in Damariscotta. And experience something that you hadn't experienced before, which is coastal Maine. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Oh My God. And is there anything more magical than coastal Maine? I mean, it was really like coming back to this very healing land, this really beautiful place. And my mother-in-law's just an angel and let us stay with her. And while we were figuring out if we were gonna keep our apartment in New York and what we were gonna do, it was a chaotic time. It was definitely a time of reflection and figuring a lot of things out. My husband was still building his business at the time. He had just opened this music consulting business and he was consulting with music, technology, startups, and now everything was over zoom. He wasn't in New York anymore. When he was in New York, he would just go to a studio, go to Sony's studio and talk to people. Now everything was over zoom. And he's sitting in his childhood bedroom, zooming with these people from Sony and trying to figure it out. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

I was also in his childhood bedroom with this little desk trying to paint, trying to take, I took every class that I could at the Art Students League of New York, who, you know, thank god for technology went virtual and they had zoom classes and I had this time on my hands I figured I'm just gonna go for it. I've always loved art. It was always something that even when I was in New York, I would bring my sketch pad on it and I would draw and people would come over and say, what are you, what are you working on? What are you doing? Because there's a lot of downtime on set and people would take interest in it. And I loved hearing what they saw and what they thought when they looked at my work. And I took that little voice that I had inside me and that little thing of like, I really enjoy this and I really like this and I wanna turn this into an opportunity, not just something where we had to leave New York and we had to do all these things. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Like I really like to look at things in terms of, but what's the benefit of it? What's the silver lining? What's the thing that, what's the thing we can take away from this that helps build our character. Because in tough situations. That's what it does. So yes, I took, at one point I was taking six art classes a week. I was helping my mother-in-law build an Airbnb on her property.  Yes, we were just trying to figure it out and living in, in Damariscotta which was a town of, I think the population's like 2000 people, I would walk through town with my little dog and my mother-in-law would be like, oh, so-and-so saw you in town today and I’m like, how do they, how do they know I'm here? She's like honey, there's, there's 10 people downtown. So it was very different from being in New York and being in this crowd. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

And you know, right before I left New York, I was working on some pretty large projects.  I had just done a job with Jane Fonda at the Plaza hotel. And then I had done a birthday party for one of the Clintons. And the next week I was in my sister-in-law's bedroom waking up and saying, do I live here now in Damariscotta?  But also, like I said, it was very healing. There were no eyes on me. There was no pressure on me. It was like, what do you wanna do at this time? And I tried to really focus on that and build something from it, which I think it kind of turned out pretty well. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

So I'm really enjoying hearing you say this because this is something that intersects with something that I think a lot about, which is this idea of the growth mindset, where you're looking at something like, okay, so this doesn't feel great, but it really could be something that could lead to something else. Yes. So for you, you use this, which it sounds like really was very traumatic and displacing and difficult, but you said, okay, all right, I'm going to move into the next thing and use this as a chance to grow in a way that maybe I wouldn't have had the opportunity to do before. 

 

Nikki Fontaine:

That's it. I mean, that's perfectly put. That's exactly it. And isn't it just what life is like, we go through these journeys. We don't have some say in it, you know, we get to direct some of it, but sometimes things happen that are out of our control. So, it's your story, it's your journey? What are you gonna do with it? And again, I was really lucky. My husband is so supportive. They were also– my mother-in-law has my artwork all over her house. I tell her she's my biggest collector. She is such a champion of my work and my sister-in-law as well, which is the reason we moved to Portland. She's here. All of them are just wonderful, wonderful people. So even though it was traumatic and it was tough and it was hard. 

 

Nikki Fontaine:

I had the perseverance to push through because I had amazing people around me and I don't take that lightly. They're my family, and I love them. And my husband, how supportive he is, we built an art studio in our apartment, we built this massive easel that we're really proud of because it moves in a way that we can take photos in, in the space. And I've had my friend, who's a photographer, come and do a whole photo shoot in the space. And yes, it's just, we created this kind of magical place out of it that with all that displacement and, you know, traumatic times, I wouldn't have had this without all of that. So there's so much to be really grateful for sure. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

Show me this piece that you brought with you today

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

I would love to, so this is a piece that I just finished working on.  

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

So describe this for the people who are listening. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

So this is an illustration. This is a work on cotton paper, which if you're not an artist is kind of hard to describe, but it's very satisfying to work on cotton paper because it has this very velvety texture. But this is, I guess, the materials are water soluble, graphite, which is like a graphite that you paint with and gush and watercolor. And the theme of this was shedding and renewal and revival. And I wanted a lot of my artwork to mirror the cycles that we go through in life just like the cycles of nature. And I really wanted to showcase this, this female who is empowered and she's shedding this skin and she has all of these beautiful symbols around her. The butterfly or moth it's really about transformation and rebirth as is the snake. 

 

Nikki Fontaine:

That's kind of wrapped around her, almost bringing her eyes and securing her.  Then this very confident forward facing female. And a lot of my illustrations are from, I guess I'll put it down are from my point of view, as a woman going through life and just experiencing. And I use a lot of female portraiture to kind of convey that.  Yes, it was a really important piece for me because I've struggled a lot in the past year, to find my artistic voice and style. And I think it's something that artists don't talk about a lot is, you know, we see this, this beautiful artwork like this beautiful work from Carlos, like working at the gallery. I see these beautiful artists, this beautiful, beautiful artwork, but everyone has a journey to get there. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

And it's not pretty, you have to make a lot of bad art to make good art. So just experimenting with different materials and different things. And for every hundred pieces you make, you might make one good piece. And this piece was really special to me because I really listened to my voice and I really honed in on that style. It actually ties into this piece because his work has spoken to me a lot. I met him at the opening at Portland Art Gallery before I worked there.  I would just pop in because it just felt good to be in there. And I would always go visit and I had met him, and we stayed in touch. And he's been very supportive of my art as well. He'll always, you know, kind of interact with me on Instagram and like my work and encourage me and have really great words to say. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

And I was working in the gallery one day and I was getting a painting out for a client and I love Carlos's work, but I had never seen this painting. And I had to move it to get the other painting out and I just stopped. And it was when I started working in this illustrative style and I looked at it and I was like, this, this is interesting. This is what I'm working on right now and what I'm doing right now. And it was almost a nod to, yes, keep going with that. Like, keep finding your voice, keep honing that, and this is the second piece I've created in that illustrative style and it's blissful to work on and it feels amazing. And when you hone in on that as an artist, it feels really good. It feels so, yes. Both pieces are important in different ways. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

And having talked to a lot of the Portland Art Gallery artists there, there doesn't tend to be as many people who are doing figurative work 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Yes. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

I’d say more abstract and I love the range, but I think figurative work is, so– it really creates a specificity. I think sometimes that, that people are attracted to, or maybe not.

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Oh that's such a great point. That's such a great way to put it. And it's something that I think about a lot, because a lot of the classes that I took at the Art Students League portraiture are trying to capture someone's features and make it look like them. And that's not what I'm trying to do. And I don't think that's what Carlos is trying to do either. We're trying to give you a feeling of what this energy of this woman feels like, and that's very hard to do. And I think there's specific ways to do it. Like specifically for that piece. I chose to have it almost like a bust.  I was thinking a lot about sculptures and how, you know, old Greek sculptures and old Roman sculptures. We look at they signify beauty. They signify anonymity but they're not the whole person. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

They're the bust. And there's, there's this feeling that you get from that. And it's such a good point to say that people look at portraiture and sometimes people don't want a specific person in their house staring at them. But if it's a feeling that they get from that person, it's very different, but you're so right. It's something that I think people shy away from for a lot of reasons. And one of the things I also love about our gallery is the range of work. When people come in and say, you have such a range here because we do, we have such, such vast different subjects that people cover. And we do have people that do figurative work in such a beautiful stylized way where, you know, you do want her hanging in your house. You don't necessarily recognize her as someone that you specifically know, but with her hair tied up and the accents that he puts with the little penguin here with the cherry and the dragonfly, there's so much, there's so much more to it that it gives you such a feeling. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

You also brought some pieces that kind of almost look like studies. I'm not sure if that's the way that they're intended. 

 

Nikki Fontaine:

Yes, absolutely. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

 but they're very beautiful in their own way. Yes. Tell me about these. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Thank you for saying that. I do a lot of studies.  One of my mentors at the Art Students League was really big on us doing studies before we did a big piece. And before I work on a piece I do a lot of studies. I do a lot of figuring out my color palette, figuring out what little elements will look like. And sometimes the studies end up being sweet on their own. They end up being kind of like this little adornment. So these are two pieces that I actually have in my studio. I can't part with them yet. They should be for sale, but I just can't. I love having them in my studio. There's studies that I did that make me feel really happy. And I've added both of these elements into bigger pieces. These are oil paintings, which is another medium. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

I really enjoy it. This is a Stella Luna, this moth is found from Maine to Florida. I live in Maine and my family lives in Florida. So there's a really special connection there. And this piece is an eye study as a makeup artist. I really love eyes. That was kind of, my forte was always doing makeup on eyes. And I love different shapes of eyes. I love the spiritualism of the eyes. Obviously, people say it's the window of the soul, but there's so much more to it than that. I love painting eyes. I think it's one of the facial facial features that has so much character to it.  I also brought a piece of two hands. I also love painting hands. I love the symbolism and the gesture of hands. I love that you picked up that there, that there's studies. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

Well, if you ever decide to part with the Florida to Maine moth, it's quite beautiful. I don't think you'll have any difficulty with somebody wanting that for their home, because it is. It's very sweet and it's also a very powerful piece of art, even though it's small. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Yes, Yes. It is. It's a little, I think this is four by four, so it's, it's tiny. I love these little decorative pieces because you can kind of just pop them on your desk or pop them on your wall. And like you said, it's powerful, you kind of get that feeling from it and the color palette of it was important as well.

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

I think I'm really struck by, in talking to you, that you have both a kind of an overview and also an attention to detail. And I think that's so interesting too, because many people they're very good at the larger picture and other people are very good at the smaller, but to be able to integrate both of those is unusual. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Wow. I don't know if anyone's ever said that to me. And it's actually raining very true. I think we were talking before, I'm an Aquarius and I think Aquarius can run the gamut. We're kind of creative and all over the place, but I do have this very meticulous side of me and there's three words that I always use to describe my art: methodical, intuitive and flowing. And those words don't really seem to go with each other. But I think it ties into what you're saying of looking at the bigger picture and then kind of diving in and looking at the details as well. And Yes, that is definitely part of my view as an artist. For sure. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

When you're working at the gallery, do you feel like you are able to help artists represent themselves effectively based on the work that you've done in helping people on set, for example represent themselves more effectively? 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Yes, it's it has been so amazing to learn about the business of art and our team works so hard and we care so much about our artists and I definitely think being an artist, being on set, working with many different personalities, managing people's expectations, again, like I said, being kind of like a calm force because with art, you can't really sell it. It's a feeling that people get when they see it. And a lot of the time it's empowering people to go with that feeling. And there's something so special about that. I love that part of working at the gallery. I love talking to the artists. I love hearing their process because I understand the technicality of it. So when I'm talking to a potential collector and they're asking questions, I love being the representative for that artist and saying, absolutely, you're right. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Like this is, this is actually the process they did. And you know, I just spoke to so and so, and this is the feeling that they had behind it. And this is why they created this piece. And it's such a special connection to be that kind of go between, between the artist and the buyer. And it's amazing when that artist's work sells. And you say to the artist, congratulations, you made a sale. And they're like, Oh My God, like I get so many messages like you made my day. This made me so happy, and the collectors, when they take it home, like I always say, do you have a spot for this? And they'll say, Yes. I get these amazing stories of their family and where they're putting it and why they're putting it there. And there's this art that is emotional. It's this feeling, it's this connection it's so it's, it's such an honor to be in that position to kind of be that go between.

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

Well, it's making me happy, just listening to talk. So I mean, truly, I agree with everything that you're saying, and I think that one of the best things about having you and people like you on the radio show is, is the sense of kind of found joy that, you know, that, that there there's something deeply kind and active about the, about art. And it's something that we don't always have a chance to access in our work day lives. So the fact that you are working in a place that so clearly represents how you feel in your own life. I think that makes me very happy. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Oh, thank you for saying that. I'm really happy that I even stumbled upon Portland Art Gallery on a walk one day and met Emma McHolde who funny enough, Helen Lewis's show is up, and told me, you know, we have a podcast. You should, you should listen to it. And as I was walking up the hill to my house, I popped it on and I heard you talking to Helen and her story, oh my God, it just really got my heart. And I was like, wow, there's an artist community here. There's these people here. And one of our family and friends, Stew Henderson is also represented by the gallery. So I went to his opening and really got to meet and become friendly with some of the artists. And it's just been a really great pleasant surprise in Portland to have this space and have this community. And Yes, I'm really happy to be there. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

Well, I'm glad that you were willing to come out and have a conversation with me today. It's really wonderful to spend time with you and I love your art. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Well, thank you so much Really. it’s wonderful.

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle:

To know that this is something that has emerged out of a time, that it could have been really a dark time, but it's, it's kind of like the butterfly imagery, you know, that you once wore something and now you're continuing to emerge into something else. So congratulations on making that possible for yourself. 

 

Nikki Fontaine: 

Thank you so much for saying that. And thank you for having me. This has been wonderful and Yes, I appreciate it. 

 

Dr. Lisa Belisle: 

You can meet Nikki Fontaine, an artist and also a member of our wonderful Portland Art Gallery team at the Portland Art Gallery. I encourage you to come to one of our openings to meet her just by stopping by or, or give her a call. I'm sure she would have a wonderful conversation with you. She is clearly somebody that we are fortunate to have affiliated with the Portland Art Gallery. I'm Dr. Lisa Belisle, and you have been listening to, or watching Radio Maine. Thank you for coming in today.