SPACE is a nonprofit organization that supports contemporary arts projects, champions artists, and encourages an open exchange of ideas.
Grounded in the belief that vital communities are activated by experimentation, conversation, and camaraderie, SPACE engages a wide audience with provocative arts programming and category-defying events. As a nexus for curious minds, we collaborate with original thinkers and invite the public to participate in the ongoing pursuit of adventurous ideas.
From our versatile arts space in downtown Portland, Maine, we:
● Showcase music
● Present film screenings
● Curate visual art exhibitions
● Facilitate lectures and discussions
● Rent studios to artists with active practices
● Oversee a statewide arts regranting program
● Foster conversations about issues of social justice
● Engage the public in community events and open forums
● Collaborate with other nonprofits and performing arts organizations
When SPACE was dreamed up by Jon Courtney and Todd Bernard in 2001, they imagined a place that was unlike any other that existed in Portland: a cross-pollinating vessel for ideas and creativity, where artists could experiment and a community of curious people could thrive. They envisioned a new kind of art space where someone might come one night to lose themselves on the dance floor and come back the next night to be awed by a powerful film, or participate in a conversation about a social justice issue. They needed an unconventional venue to fit their unconventional dream. Fate intervened in the form of Christopher Campbell, a local architect who rented affordable work spaces to artists in his building on Congress Street. The ground floor was empty, and in 2002, SPACE officially opened there.
Since then, SPACE has grown into Portland’s home for arts, artists, and ideas. In 2011, we expanded into the Annex at 534 Congress Street. In 2015, we successfully completed a capital campaign, Claiming SPACE, and purchased our building at 538 Congress Street, which includes the three floors of artist studios above the ground floor (now called SPACE Studios) and a printmaking facility, Pickwick Independent Press. We are proud to participate in the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts's regional regranting program with our visual arts grant program, The Kindling Fund. We have plans to officially launch a national Artist-in-Residence program in 2017.
What the heck is this place?
SPACE is a nonprofit, multidisciplinary gallery and performance space in the heart of the arts district in Portland, Maine. Our mission is to present contemporary, emerging and unconventional arts, artists and ideas.
What are your gallery hours?
We are open to the public from 12-6, Wednesday through Saturday, as well as during our events.
Do you mostly show local artists?
No -- in fact, we present more art, music and other genres from regional, national and international artists than we do work from local artists. Our goal is to present the best work we can that might not otherwise be presented in Maine.
Who owns the gallery?
We're a nonprofit organization, managed by a staff and overseen by a board of directors.
How can I find more information about something I saw there?
We try to put relevant links in our event and exhibition descriptions when they're available. Other than that, we don't usually have any information that wouldn't be found online.
Can I bring my class / knitting group / book club / family reunion to visit the gallery?
Can we come during off hours?
Give us a call and let us know when you'd like to come, and we'll do our best. We're happy to talk with groups about our exhibits or about SPACE itself.
Why are you called SPACE?
Our idea is simple: to provide space for things to happen. Our galleries are raw and flexible, so we're ready for anything from hanging a fishing boat on the wall to filling the room with spaceships in midair. Please note: we're not The SPACE. There are a lot of art spaces named SPACE (or some variation) around the country -- we don't presume to be the only one.
Can you donate use of SPACE for my nonprofit fundraiser?
As a nonprofit ourselves, we understand the need to get help wherever possible. However, our space is our biggest asset, and it's what we use to help fund our low-ticket-price programs. If you would like to hold an event at SPACE, or co-present an event, we'll share the expense as much as we can, but please be prepared to be creative about how to cover the costs of the room.
Do you do private rentals?
Occasionally we rent SPACE to nonprofits, corporate parties or private individuals. Please inquire for more information about cost and availability. We do NOT generally rent SPACE for the booking of public events -- i.e., you can't pay to have your child's band play here.
Our rental request form is here: http://www.space538.org/rentals
Can I put my name on your mailing list?
Please do! We have an email list as well as a paper mailing list.
I want to see photos from SPACE event XYZ! Do you have any?
We might! You can check our Flickr page or maybe our blog.
How long has SPACE been open?
SPACE opened to the public in August of 2002.
Do you need new volunteers at SPACE?
Always. We have opportunities for volunteers in all aspects of our work, including but not limited to: music event staff, gallery sitting, door person at films, gallery prep, administrative and many others. More info here.
Can I post my flyer/poster on your board?
Yes, you can. Larger flyers can go on the board next to the main gallery entrance and smaller flyers can go on the shelf.
Main Program Areas
Visual Art Exhibitions: SPACE continually challenges definitions of art, where art belongs, and how it affects our thoughts and our lives: SPACE mixes exhibitions of compelling regional and national artists with emerging local talent, creating a forum for visual expression that is new to Portland or that commercial visual art spaces would not choose.
Film screenings: SPACE’s film program offers access to a wide array of content that otherwise never makes a big-screen appearance anywhere but the largest cities in the world. SPACE uses film to present contemporary ideas about social justice, politics, human rights, and artistic development. No other venue in Portland features as much new work in experimental and short film, animation, and award-winning documentaries.
Music shows: Up and coming artists make appearances at SPACE before their careers rocket them to stints on Saturday Night Live, to sold-out shows at Carnegie Hall, or to headline slots at music festivals. Named one of the top 40 music venues in the nation, SPACE blends eclectic, experimental, underground and niche music audiences into its gallery environment for a true cross-pollination of interest in the arts, creativity, and performance.
Public forums and collaborations: SPACE has a democratic atmosphere that makes it well suited for discussion, collaboration and idea sharing. Local partners appreciate SPACE’s position as the center of the arts district, its flexibility and informal demeanor. As a result, SPACE has formed dozens of partnerships with other nonprofits and community groups for informational sessions, public lectures, fundraisers and awareness building events.