By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,354)
“This is a great example of art in the community. Part of being creative is experimenting and this is an experiment. It’s mixing contemporary design with recycled material, ” said Donald Tuski, Ph.D., President of Maine College of Art, this morning as he visited the new site of the Federal Street Folly that debuts tomorrow afternoon behind the boutique Press Hotel – on one small block of Federal Street. City employees worked earlier this week to block the area off with planters, despite the rainy weather.
Tuski was visiting the site because an associate professor Matt Hutton and his wife Erin Hunter, Director of Exhibits & Special Projects, both of MECA, were setting the stage for tomorrow’s debut of the Federal Street Folly at 5:30 pm. The project is the brainchild of Press Hotel owner, Jim Brady, and is expected to last until October 10, 2015.
The four juniors in Matt’s Woodworking and Furniture Design class at MECA were unanimous in their support for the Federal Street Folly project. Peter Dore, (see opposite photo) said he wants to set up his own design firm eventually. “It’s been a group effort. There is not a lot of opportunity to design as a group. This has been an example of a professional collaboration. We’ve had to learn to work together and to work with a client.” The client is Jim Brady.
MECA students and their mentors will be available tomorrow starting at 5:30 – 8:00 pm to discuss the Federal Street Folly and their role in its construction.
The five benches are constructed of marine plywood donated by Sabre Yachts; consequently, they are waterproof. They have a seating capacity of between 18 – 20 people. Each is outfitted with LED lighting that emits a soft warm white lighting every evening. Five wooden towers were designed and built by the class. At the base of each 8 ft. tower is a flood light that shoots up the tower emitting a soft glow every evening at dusk when the adjoining Press Hotel lights are switched on for the evening.
Jenna Castillo, one of the four students, said that this community experience has motivated them to consider lots of aspects that students don’t have to think about when working alone in a studio inside a building. “We had to consider security aspects,” she said. That’s why one corner of each bench is grounded into the pavement.There is a pivot so they can be moved around into different seating arrangements, but they are securely in place on Federal Street.
Sean Ireland, Project Manager, who works for Jim Brady, and is the project liaison, said the programming is still fluid. But he did say that Portland Trails will be hosting a run every Tuesday noon that will introduce runners to its large trails system. “We don’t see this as a destination place. It’s not a pop-up park. It’s more of a walk through place,” said Ireland.
It’s an experiment, but what a start!