“I’ve never exhibited before until November 1,” said Rob Paulette, this afternoon at the 18 Exchange Street Pop-up Gallery, a/k/a the Maine Art Collective. “Until I got in here the only people who saw my paintings were friends and family.. I wanted to alleviate the congestion on my living room wall so that is why I’m exhibiting here,” said the Munjoy HIll resident, laughing.
Paulette said he walked by the Collective last month in Portland’s Old Port. He contacted the pop-up organizer to see if he could exhibit there. The organizer told him there was space for him in the Pop-up – starting November 1, 2021. He could do that.
The reason there was space is because the lease for 18 Exchange Street had been extended until December 31, 2021. At least one of the artists exhibiting in the gallery had backed out – leaving exhibit space for a replacement. In the first week in which Paulette exhibited his work, he sold three paintings for a total of $1,200. “That works,” he said enthusiastically.
The reason for this second extension of the lease is that the city of Portland has been slower than expected in granting permiting approval for a new restaurant planned in that space. The planned restaurant would be owned by Josh Miranda, owner of the expensive bar Blythe & Burrows, just several steps from the Pop-up at 26 Exchange Street. Miranda who grew up on Munjoy Hill named his expensive bar for the captains of the Boxer and the Enterprise who fought it out downeast of Portland during the War of 1812.
Paulette is a self-taught artist. He learned a lot from the internet. He also took lessons from Cyr & Roux in the Old Port. He’s always been a good “doodler” winning a state of Maine contest when he was ten years old in Bangor.
Eighteen Exchange Street is owned by the controversial Joe Soley, an art collector as well. That interest in art may account for the alleged lenient rent terms Soley has reportedly given the Pop-up participants according to exhibiting artists other than Paulette in the pop-up. Soley, about 90, is also an owner of the Falmouth Shopping Center, with his business partner Jonathan Cohen. Soley has acknowledged to mhn.com in the past that he and the former vice president of the US during the Nixon Administration, Spiro Agnew, were business associates in Baltimore housing. Agnew was forced to resign before Nixon did because of his illegal activities in the White House. Agnew narrowly escaped prison time because of the skill of his attorneys according to a biography of the disgraced Agnew read by this blogger years ago.
“This is the best work in the place,” said Jeff Ward, who stopped in at the pop-up this afternoon. “It’s the prettiest work. It’s very sharp, clean and realistic.” Ward, who was visiting from Boston, is familiar with the area on Cape Cod where the above painting was painted.
Please visit post herein dated October 16, 2021 for more background information on this Pop-up Gallery in the Old Port of Portland.