Notes from Portland, Maine
April 12, 2016
Casey Gilbert
What I love about Portland
by Casey Gilbert, Executive Director

What I love about Portland, (among many other things) is... public art! Portland has such an amazing array of public art - both in the out-of-doors and indoors - for all to enjoy. Our city also benefits from having an entire committee dedicated to public art. The committee catalogs existing pieces, creates maintenance schedules to keep them in top shape, and seeks new artists to create pieces for new projects around the city. Here in Downtown, we have an abundance - right at our fingertips! While researching for this article, I pondered questions like: is it public art if it is on private property, but is enjoyed by the public? Is a monument considered art? Luckily, I had a few experts fill me in on the nuances, and the answers were yes and yes! So, in this edition "What I love about Portland," I am happy to share with you my insight into public art in Downtown. Keep in mind, this is not an exhaustive list, but a first-glimpse into what is a tremendous public asset.

Committees and organizations involved in bringing you public art: First and foremost, the City of Portland boasts the Public Art Committee. A full list of public art in the city can be found here. Additionally, TempoArt is a nonprofit group that assists with temporary art installations. Look for their upcoming projects at Congress Square Park and Lincoln Park!

Public art in public (outdoor) spaces: Perhaps you've walked by a few of our treasured monuments in Downtown: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow sitting in his chair in Longfellow Square, Our Lady of Victories in Monument Square, Maine Lobsterman in Lobsterman's Park, or perhaps even the Fireman Statue at the Central Fire Station. It might even be a fun challenge to use the Portland Public Art website to see how many pieces of public art you have seen and - if you haven't seen them all - make it an adventure!

Public art inside: At the Portland Public Library you will find three pieces of public art: The Little Water Girl, Acrobatic Dogs and Elephant. At Portland High School, you can find the Birdhouse Heads.

Public art in private spaces: You have probably walked by the huge "7" in front of the Portland Museum of Art. The Robert Indiana Sculpture, one of ten in a series, is not only a beautiful piece of art, but it also just so happens to be the museum's address: 7 Congress Square! Another sculpture that is part of a series and is also on private property, but is enjoyed by many, is the Urban Rattle sculpture by Charlie Hewitt. You'll have to look up, as this sculpture is set atop 20-foot poles! You can find this colorful and playful sculpture at 511 Congress Street, in front of the International Trade Center.

As you can see, there are many opportunities to enjoy art in Portland. I didn't even touch on our galleries, art education, or the many other organizations dedicated to the arts in Portland (You'll have to stay tuned for future newsletters!) With spring upon us, it is the perfect time to walk around Portland - solo, with a friend, or a big group - and discover all of our wonderful public art. Happy hunting!

Jeff Packard
Meet Jeff Packard
A Q & A with one of our board members

How long have you been on the board?

I'm coming up on 2 years this summer.

What makes the Portland Downtown mission meaningful to you?

Everything we do has a direct impact upon me, my friends and my peers. To be a part of that impact, and to push for continuous improvement, whether it's for more trees, better lighting, or more active public safety, is something I love to do.

Which topics are currently being addressed by the board? 

We are currently tackling topics ranging from on/off-street parking, mass transit and bike-ped challenges, to improving the image and economic vitality of Downtown Portland through thoughtful events, outreach, and planning, as well as pushing for a more lush streetscape which harkens back to our former title as "The Forest City."

What do you do for work outside of volunteering for Portland Downtown ?

I am the CEO of a local energy development company called Alodyne here in the Old Port. We work with large consumers of heating fuel to reduce and de-risk their annual energy costs through innovative long-term contracts. 

What is your favorite hotspot (restaurant, coffee shop, bar) Downtown?

I spend a ton of time at Bard Coffee -- either for meetings, or just a coffee break during the day. You can usually find me there at least once a day.

What is one fun fact about Portland that others may not know about?

Wharf Street used to be where ships of old pulled into port. Everything between there and Casco Bay, actually used to be Casco Bay!

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