By Carol McCracken (Post # 727)
It could be a win-win situation for the Greater Portland area. At least that’s what a task force working under the auspices of Creative Portland believes. That’s why it’s moving forward in its pursuit of establishing artists studios on the Maine State Pier. Patrick Costin leads the task force charged with coordinating the effort with the city and other interested parties.
Since last summer a task force of the city’s Creative Portland has been looking into the possibility of converting about 30,000 sq. feet of the Whale Wall building on the Maine State Pier into artists studios. Role models for this concept are the Jam Factory Contemporary Craft & Design Center, Australia, and the Torpedo Factory Art Center, located in the Old Town section of Alexandria, Va., on the waterfront.
Costin, founder of Canal 5 Studio, an architectural design firm, said the next step in this project is to “start small – with office space at the pier available to rent to artists at affordable rates. This would activate the spot as a place where art is created.” It would be a good way to take advantage of the already existing ‘whale wall.’ With cultural activities in the location, it would be a good reason for people to interact by it. Costin would also like to see an arts fair on the pier this summer; that event could demonstrate the potential the pier has. It wouldn’t be necessary to use the entire pier, but there could a lobster pound and other marine related activities.
The building and pier are not in bad shape as is, Costin said. In their current condition, both could be used for this purpose. It’s a “low-cost” strategy that would not cost $$$ to be productive. The alternative is to have private industry come in to develop the property which would remove part of the waterfront from the enjoyment of the public.
The task force hopes to participate in a walk through in the near future.