“It’s fantastic,” said curator Bruce Brown, today as he relaxed in one of the granite boulders sculpted into a chair as part of the “Gathering Stones” installation near East End Beach on Munjoy HIll. The artist is Jesse Salisbury who hails from upstate Steuben. The installation is sponsored by Tempo Arts, whose Executive Director is Tony Adams.
Brown. 80, who walks along the Portland Trail less often than he used to, said he has known Jesse Salisbury for about twenty-five (25) years. Their friendship dates back to Brown’s days as a curator of Maine Coast Artists. That’s when Salisbury’s works were in some of the many hundreds of shows that Brown curated there.
Salisbury hosted the Schooder International Sculpture Biennial Symposium – a workshop that began in 2005 and invited important sculptors from many countries to work on their individual projects. Upon completion, they were donated to three counties in Down East Maine whose inventory of art work was negligible. The Symposium ran for ten years, although it still functions.
Brown, a long-time Munjoy Hill resident, co-founded PhoPa, with photographer Jon Edwards. The mission was primarily to show significant Maine photographs, printmakers and artists who include paper. Edwards, a graduate of Maine Media Workshop, decided to occasionally exhibit its students’ works. The building, located on Washington Avenue, is owned by Edwards. It continues to serve as his studio. The gallery was open for 5 1/2 years with fifty exhibitions to its credit. PhoPa closed in 2018,
Brown, who is an avid amateur photographer as well, has moved on now to be curator for photography at the new Cove Street Arts, 71 Cove Street. He is responsible for six exhibitions a year. The current photography exhibit is titled “Architecture”. It includes photography by David Clough, Jean Noon, Donald Peterson, Liv Kristen Robinson, Sarah Swzajhos and Brian Van Den Brink. Gallery hours are 10:00 – 5:00 pm Monday – Friday. On Saturday it is open from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. The show closes August 15.
Future exhibits at Cove Street Arts include: “Distilled,” a husband wife collaboration by John and Cynthia Orcutt of Kingfield that runs from August 20 to October 17. Next is a twelve faculty member show from photography teachers at MECA, SMCC, USM and UNE. Cove Street Arts opened on June 1, 2019.
Shortly thereafter, we continued our walk down Portland Trails. Brown was walking toward his car parked somewhere near the WEX building. He said that he began his career as an English teacher in Freeport. But along the journey, he saw and purchased a painting at a local art gallery. That purchase, that he could hardly afford, changed the course of his career. He knew he wanted to be a curator. Brown said he’s a “student of art” because he is someone “who loves what others do.”
In 1987, Brown was offered the position of art curator at Maine Coast Artists, Rockport. In 2002, it changed its name to Center for Maine Contemporary Art, (CMCA). That change came about because the non-profit began to represent artists in all mediums throughout the State, not only the coast. Inside, there is a gallery named for Bruce Brown. Internationally respected, Toshiki Mori designed the new CMCA building in Rockland with a price tag of $5 million. She summers on an island off the coast of northern Maine.
“I admire Jesse’s immense talent and his history of coming from a very rural place along the coast of Maine and turning his love of stone in his natural habitat into projects exhibited in many locations around the world as well as leaving Maine to live and study sculpture as a young man. A highly unusual story,” said Brown in an email to mhn.com.
Brown is Curator Emeritus of the Center for Maine Contemporary Art.
Please see post herein on “Gathering Stones” installation dated July 6, 2020.