New collaboration space among Colby’s additions to the Waterville art scene

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WATERVILLE – Among the things David Greene loves most about the new art collaborative building in downtown Waterville are its street-facing garage doors that roll up and invite the community and encourage artists to mingle.

“The idea is to open the doors and say to people, ‘It’s available to you. Please come in, ”said Greene, Colby’s president. “This is essential for Waterville and Colby to try to create together, a sense of community and welcome and where the arts are the central pillar.”

One of the things that makes him blush a little is that the building at 18 Main Street is now named after him and his wife. Major funders Peter and Paula Lunder insisted that the project be named in honor of Carolyn and David Greene to reflect their efforts to use the arts to help spur the resurgence of Waterville.

“I’m so humbled and scared of this, to be honest with you,” Greene said on a phone call. “But I am incredibly satisfied. I do not know where to start. When Peter and Paula said they wanted to do this project and one of the conditions was that they wanted to name it for me, I said, “No, that’s ridiculous”, but they said that they insisted.

A hallway on the second floor, where the artist studios are located, overlooks the first floor of Colby College’s new Greene Block + Studios. Rich Abrahamson / Morning Sentry

The nearly 25,000-square-foot, four-story building, dedicated on Tuesday, will serve as a venue for visual arts, music, and performance, and a collaborative incubator for scholarship artists, who have large, bright studios on the second and third floors. floors. The top floor is home to the Lunder Institute for American Art, which manages the Artist Fellowship program and is affiliated with the Colby Museum.

In addition to the $ 6.5 million Greene Block + Studios project, Colby is investing $ 18 million in the Paul J. Schupf Art Center located a few blocks from Main Street next to the Opera House. Waterville, and the college recently opened the $ 85 million, 74,000 square foot Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts on campus – three ambitious art projects all started since the pandemic with a cumulative prize of nearly $ 110 million.

The Greene Block + Studios are operational. The Schupf Center, which will include the Maine Film Center and is a partnership between Colby and Waterville Creates, is slated to open next fall, and the Gordon Arts Center, named in honor of college administrator Michael Gordon and dedicated to music, theater, dance and cinema. , is scheduled to open on campus in fall 2023.

Colby Museum Director Jacqueline Terrassa said the Greene Block building “is a key part of the arts ecology not only of the college, but of Waterville and how Colby connects to the community and downtown. David’s vision for this building has always been a place of creativity and a place of community.

A public event space on the first floor of the Greene Block + Studios in Waterville. Rich Abrahamson / Morning Sentry

The new space brings together two existing buildings, the ground floor is therefore divided into two spaces. In one, Rockland artist Kim Bernard covered a wall in her installation “Making Waves,” made from plastic she recycled using portable machines she designed. Working with community members, kids at the South End Teen Center, high school students in Waterville and Colby, she transformed the plastic that often ends up in the ocean into a flow of circles and curls resembling doodles to resemble ocean waves.

Near Bernard’s facility is a piano ready to play, and the space is outfitted with theatrical-quality sound and lights to accommodate the performances, Terrassa said. Across the gallery at street level, artist Sam Nester created “Arcadia,” an interactive sound and light installation activated by the biorhythms of native Maine plants, which create music and light signals. .

Teresa McKinney, founding director of Diamond Family Arts at Colby College, at the college’s new downtown arts collective. Rich Abrahamson / Morning Sentry

Teresa McKinney, whose responsibilities include creating integrated artistic experiences between Colby and Waterville, said having artist studios in the downtown building will inspire unforeseen interactions and opportunities between artists and the community. So far, six fellow artists from various disciplines have had studio residencies: Julia Arredondo, E. Saffronia Downing, Adriane Herman and Veronica Perez, who are there until the end of this year, and Riley Watts and Jose Barrionuevo , who participated previously.

In October, artist Dread Scott will be in Waterville and give a public lecture at the Greene Block as part of a senior scholarship to Colby that began with the current academic year.

Greene agreed with McKinney that having artist studios downtown is key to the success of the project. Artists bring energy – and creative energy, as well as collaboration, fuel inspiration, he said.

“I hope this will become a space where artists can do their best. These studios are phenomenal, ”he said. “And at the same time, this first floor is essentially a blank canvas ready to be turned into something special. Whether it is a small dance concert, a poetry reading, a party, a gathering, a vernissage, it is truly a space that will always have the impression that something is happening that always enriches the community and always welcoming.


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