By Carol McCracken (Post #
If you see traffic slowing down – way down – as people approach Washington Avenue, let me tell you why that’s happening! People are stopping to admire a stunning new mural painted by a talented young Maine artist – it’s a work-in- exciting-progress – the most exciting public art to be seen in Portland in recent memory!
“Maine is known for its lobstering,, but we also need to celebrate the men and women who dig clams.” said Susan Bartlett Rice,, recently as she took a break from painting the eye-catching mural at the corner of Washington Avenue and Congress Streets earlier this week on the East End of Portland.
The beautification of the red brick wall on the side of SNUG, was commissioned by Mike Salisbury, who owns the building. The wall overlooks what has become a parking lot that is rented to employees of OTTO, the nearby pizza spot. .Once the space was home to a dry cleaner who sold it to the owner of Bingas Wingas. He (can’t remember his name) had ‘wild and crazy’ideas for another Bingas Wingas in the building. However, because of a run in with the City of Portland, those plans never came to fruition. The building was torn down and until recently the vacant lot was neglected.
Clammers have long been a favorite subject of artist Rice she said earlier this week. She knows a lot of clammers up in Walpole where her art studio is. Her husband also clams as a hobby, although that is not his avocation. She has transformed what is often viewed as a drab corner into a picture of blues, greens and yellows that will bring traffic to a dead halt as it comes down the Hill. “It’s hard, back-breaking work. They constantly put themselves into awkward positions,” said Rice. She has painted dozens of paintings of claimmers. She took a break from them for a while – so this mural is a return to her favorite subject. Rice is accustomed to painting on much smaller surfaces – 30 inches 30 inches typically. This surface is roughly 15 ft. x 60 ft. in size and that presents special opportunities to this professional artist.
Rice who is from Plymouth, MA graduated the University of Vermont where she majored in painting and art history. She worked for Rhode Island School of Design Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco where she lived previously.
“Painting this mural gives me an opportunity for direct feedback. That’s something I don’t get painting in my studio in Walpole. That’s very isolating. I am really enjoying this experience,” said the outgoing Rice. She started the mural almost a week ago and expects it to take at least another week to complete.
For more information about Rice, call her at (207) 563-6023, email her at email@example.com and her webpage is: www.susanbartlettrice.com