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Brian Smith is a visual artist sculpting queer approaches to ecology. He has shown in a growing list of national, and select international art sites. He was raised in Vermont, got a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, and later his Masters from Maine College of Art & Design, next door to SPACE. He now feels rooted to the Maine rocky coastline after making this place his home.
Smith has a robust studio practice in Westbrook, where he works in metal, foam, wood, epoxies, and photography/photographs. His work hybridizes sculpture and image in an ever-evolving quest for the perfect marriage of the two. It’s an exciting challenge!

Michael Cormier-O’Leary is a tireless collaborator. As drummer for the Philadelphia-based alt-country band Friendship, for luminary guitarist/songwriter/improviser Wendy Einsenberg, and for the mystifying indie musician Abi Reimold, he has played many hundreds of shows since 2009 and has criss-crossed the country extensively. He is a multi-instrumentalist who releases song music under his name (most recently 2021’s More Light!!) and is the primary composer/bandleader for the instrumental collective Hour. Founder of Dear Life Records, Cormier-O’Leary has shown a commitment to championing music by indescribable songwriters, experimentalists and improvisers. The current roster includes Kath Bloom, Karl Blau, Nat Baldwin, Joanna Mattrey, Natalie Jane Hill, MJ Lenderman and more. He lives in Biddeford with his wife, dog, and cat.

Bobby is an English Language Learner (ELL) teacher in the Portland area. He is the sound engineer for Community Voices for Change, a talk show hosted at WMPG every Thursday night from 7:30 – 8:00 PM focusing on progressive voices in the community. He is also DJ BC at WMPG and hosts Joynoise every Sunday night from 7 – 9 PM, where he plays mixes of electronic and indie music (think BurialAngelica Garcia, and Sufjan Stevens). He collects vinyl, dabbles in film photography, strives to see more live shows, loves meeting new people, and needs to walk his dogs more often.

Sampson Spadafore (he/they) is a white, queer, gay, nonbinary trans man currently living on settled Wabanaki tribal land known as Portland, Maine. They are a consent and violence prevention educator and are a trained theatre artist with a BFA in Musical Theatre from Nazareth College of Rochester. He also identifies as a poet and writer where he centers his trans and queer experience while unpacking his mental health journey. Sampson focuses his activism on trans and queer rights at the intersections of other oppressed identities and continues to deepen their own learning about layered intersections of anti-racism and decolonization while incorporating that into all areas of their work. They’re a leading organizer with Maine Renters United. He also serves as an at-large member of the MaineTransNet steering committee.

Peter’s first night in Portland, back in October 2006, was spent at SPACE, where Wolf Eyes melted his face and destroyed his ears. He remarkably still had enough hearing to join the event staff as a sound engineer in August 2010. He joined the staff upstairs in the office as music programmer in 2014. As a drummer, he has played more than 600 shows across North America, Europe, and Asia over the the past decade, with bands such as Family Planning, Mehetable, Woodpainting, Villages of Spaces, Names Divine, Ora Cogan, Lina Tullgren, Jacob Augustine, Lisa/Liza, Lady Lamb, The Casco Bay Tummlers, and many more. He runs a small record label, Pretty Purgatory. His favorite color is purple.

Jocelyn Leighton is a queer human who uses she/they pronouns. As an INFJ, she uses her intuitive and feeling powers as a way to intrinsically navigate the world. Originally from Downeast Maine, land belonging to the Passamaquoddy Tribe, Jocelyn loves to travel and has been to many different places that have stirred her soul. Jocelyn received her B.A. in Art and Humanities from the University of Southern Maine, and her M.A. in Gender and Cultural Studies from Simmons University in Boston, Massachusetts. They are an artist, performer, and writer. Jocelyn wrote and performed a piece titled The Unkindest Cut which was in PortFringe 2019 and they author/manage the website Getting to Know Jane Doe. Jocelyn also serves on the South Portland City Council, representing District 1, and raises awareness and advocates for changes in policy that enhances social justice issues, particularly race and gender equality. She lives in South Portland with her partner Connor and their fur babies Quila (doggo), and Meri and Pippen (kitties).

Kelsey Halliday Johnson (she/they) is an organizational strategist, eco-feminist, and artist from Philadelphia, living in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Prior to SPACE, Johnson worked as a museum curator, performance and live art coordinator, archaeological ceramic collection specialist, community radio DJ/Music Directorart collective member, art publishing intern, and instructor at the University of Pennsylvania and Interlochen Center for the Arts. She is a graduate of Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Wesleyan University.

Johnson’s research has included the aesthetics and rhetoric of fascism, the intersection of art and technology, and the body as a political instrument in performance. The care, spirit, and values in her work are modeled after the inspiring academic mentors she hopes to honor: Terry Adkins, Matt Freedman, Sam Miller, and Emmet Gowin. Her 2016-2017 multi-site independent curatorial project Making/Breaking the Binary: Women, Art & Technology (1968-85) garnered support from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and activated ten organizations throughout the Philadelphia region to explore women-identifying artists ahead of the personal computing age. Some thoughts by Kelsey on the future of the art field can be found in the Common Field “Field Perspectives 2019” with Title Magazine.

When not reading books or getting outside, Kelsey is passionate about volunteering for queer and reproductive justice, in addition to serving on the Executive Committee of Sierra Club Maine, the Collections Committee of the Portland Museum of Art, and the Cultural Steering Committee for the City of Portland. She actively identifies as an ambivert and is an avid gardener. 

Jonathan is a musician, artist, parent, punk, friend, and lifelong Mainer. They love creating and collecting equally, with an ever growing hard drive full of beats and a basement full of toys and instruments. Jonathan has spent the last several years at Bomb Diggity Arts, collaborating with disabled artists on gallery art, short film, music, animation, puppetry, and cable access television. Prior to that they ran an adorable karaoke night, created a podcast for Archie Comics, and played in an award winning children’s music band. Their hero is Pippi Longstocking and their favorite thing is Christmas. 

Carolyn Wachnicki is a habitual non-profit employee that also identifies as a graphic designer, painter, athlete, music aficionado, documentary photographer, educator, and now, exhibition coordinator. Carolyn comes to SPACE from The Long Now Foundation, an organization in San Francisco established to inspire long-term thinking.

New to Portland, but not New England, Carolyn was raised in the Mount Washington Valley. There, amongst people that wore many hats (literally and figuratively), she learned early the virtues of being a generalist. This led her to study liberal arts at Wesleyan University with the intention of also playing Division III ice hockey. However, she quickly traded in her goalie gear for a paintbrush and double-majored in Studio Arts and Art History (with an unofficial minor in community radio–WESU 88.1FM).
After college Carolyn set out on her hero’s journey, stomping the trails as AMC ‘hut croo’ before heading to NYC for a curatorial internship at the Whitney’s Altria Space (RIP–’the corporation giveth and taketh away’). After putting in her 10,000 hours on freelance exhibition and collateral design, Carolyn joined the New Museum as their first female in-house graphic designer. The New Museum’s proximity to the lower east side inspired her to moonlight as a documentary concert photographer (note: she did not sleep much those years).
Carolyn climbed out of her creative rabbit hole briefly to work as a packaging designer for beverage companies and as an album art print production specialist for record labels (whilst slowly migrating west to California). After taking a brief sabbatical to write and illustrate a children’s book (Olin The Greyhound), Carolyn rejoined the non-profit world at the Museum of Sonoma County–just in time to celebrate the 40th year anniversary of Christo & Jeanne Claude’s Running Fence.
Carolyn‘s curatorial interests at present are found at the intersection of monuments, sites, and memories. She is particularly drawn to work that activates historic spaces and landscapes in new and transformative ways.   

Catherine Buxton is a non-profit professional and performance artist. She spends most of her time speaking about sex and consent, and the rest of her time gluing trash to other trash. Sometimes she does stand-up comedy. (Photo by Julia Whyel)

Greg Jamie is a partner and programmer of the Apohadion Theater in Portland, Maine. He is a singer and songwriter for the bands O’Death and Blood Warrior and has released several albums.  He is also a visual artist and has had work shown recently at Border Patrol and Able Baker Gallery. 

Elisabeth Fuchsia (she/her or they/them) is an artist in search of a medium, currently working primarily in photography, metals, and fiber on usually small but sometimes installation-size scale. She has close artistic ties to music festivals The Thing in the Spring (Peterborough, NH) and Cropped Out (Louisville, KY) and drag collective Switch ‘n’ Play (Brooklyn, NY). Also a classically-trained violinist and violist, she frequently performs as part of a revolving lineup in Footings (Peterborough, NH) and with Mehetable (Portland, ME), in addition to session/arranging work and continuously adding to her own collection of perpetually-unfinished ambient and not-so-ambient sounds. Aside from working at SPACE events, she is a tax advisor with Brass Taxes, working primarily with freelancers, artists, and other nice people, so you won’t see too much of her between February and April.

Quinn Farwell is a musician, electrical engineer, and sound engineer born and raised in Maine. They spend their free time taking pictures of their cat and plays drums, guitar, or bass between 6 bands or so.

Julia Whyel is an archivist, media producer and visual artist. She came to Portland, Maine for a three month detour and ten years later, here she still is. Julia oversees digital and print archival management, exhibition installation, the SPACE internship program, in-house production and serves as the staff-board liason. Julia is a Salt Institute alum, she holds a BA in Media Studies from University of Southern Maine and an MA in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University. She loves Christmas slightly more than Jonathan does.

Board of Directors

A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in Business Administration, Oliver Watson represents the recent overflow of Boston’s startup tech community into Southern Maine. Born in CT and raised in the greater Boston area, Watson now works as part of a new health-tech business venture started by his brother in a former mill building in Westbrook. zFlo is a software and systems distributor primarily working with European healthcare focused companies, and Hawkin Dynamics is their new venture that develops metrics based fitness devices and software for sports medicine and physical therapy applications. Watson is a young arts collector in Portland and has actively supported and advocated for the growing community of experimental young contemporaries in the greater Portland area.

Local to Farmington, Maine, Desi Van Til studied English Literature at Princeton University, enjoyed a post-graduate cinema-intensive fellowship in Paris, then moved to Los Angeles to work as a producer. She learned the ropes assisting her mentor Greg Silverman at Revolution Studios and Warner Brothers. She went on to spend five years as VP of Development for Donna Roth and Susan Arnold at Roth/Arnold Productions where she associate-produced 13 Going on 30, and the Judd Apatow-produced comedy Drillbit Taylor. Van Til adapted and produced the short film Last Night, starring Frances McDormand, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Tumbledown was her first feature, a love letter to her hometown, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and is available on most streaming outlets. 
Van Til just adapted Julie Orringer’s celebrated novel The Invisible Bridge for Wiip as a limited series pilot, and is working on a Portland-based play. She currently serves as Chair of SPACE’s marketing committee.

A double graduate of New York University, Alisan Kavookjian received her BA in psychology with a research focus on youth development, and a MSW with a clinical focus on individual and group work with adolescents. In New York City, she worked as both a social worker with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and as a manager of the Volunteer Department of St. Vincent’s Hospital, before taking a break from full-time work to raise her family in Portland, Maine. She currently serves on the boards of Maine Academy of Modern Music and The Telling Room, is a part of the Contemporaries Council at the Portland Museum of Art, and is one of the most recent additions to our board officers. Passionate about music as both a parent to young musicians and personally, Kavookjian is a regular at SPACE’s diverse music events and has a growing collection of silkscreened concert posters in her home.

Catherine Besteman teaches Anthropology at Colby College. Her research focuses on racism, immigration/mobility, inequality, and social transformation, topics she has studied in South Africa, Somalia, and the US. A 2012 Guggenheim Fellow, she has also received recent fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies. A curator as part of her professional practice, Besteman served on the Colby College Museum of Art Board of Governors and most recently co-curated the expansive Making Migrations Visible project, funded by an NEA Artworks grant, that brought together over 75 partners to stage events and exhibitions about global migration.

Chris Robinson is a financial advisor based in Falmouth, Maine who currently works for Ameriprise, after twenty years with Morgan Stanley. Passionate about art history, music, and sailing, Robinson is a founding board member and  current Chair of SAilMaine, the community sailing, waterfront education, and adaptive ADA boating organization. In his spare time, Robinson spends time with his family and travels to music festivals in a restored vintage VW “Magic Van.”

Lesley MacVane is a Portlander by birth and is the longtime development coordinator for Portland Media Center, formerly Community Television Network. MacVane is a graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and an independent filmmaker and media artist who is currently making work exploring adoption in Maine. Portland Media Center is also the umbrella home to the Union of Maine Visual Artists, Hour Exchange Portland (an ongoing community time exchange) and CoCo (The Congolese Community Association of Maine). Originally a documentary and portrait photographer, MacVane became interested in video while filming backstage at a drag show. Since then, she has done numerous videos for public access including pieces for MVAN and Portland Profiles. Since returning to Portland after thirty years living “away” (ranging everywhere from Boston to Nigeria, Jamaica, and Nova Scotia), she helped found the now defunct local newspaper, The Portland Pigeon, and has deep board experience serving on the board of Maine Charitable Mechanics, The Salt Institute, and Learning Works, among others.

Rachel Gloria Adams is a textile designer and painter living in Portland, ME. Inspired greatly by her beloved state of Maine and the beautiful chaos her two daughters bring, Adams has developed a vibrant, graphic pattern-based visual language filled with references to the natural world. An ongoing project and business venture TACHEE utilizes this imagery she developed through painting as textile prints. Rachel is currently developing a body of work that depicts her experience as a black mother and artist through a series of paintings and quilts.

Oronde Cruger is the program coordinator for Speak About It, a Maine-based nonprofit organization that brings consent and sexual assault prevention education to high schools and colleges through dynamic performances and programs. Originally from Florida, Cruger is a graduate of Bowdoin College, majoring in neuroscience and pre-med. He has been involved with Speak About It since its creation at Bowdoin and worked as a program educator for two years, traveling around the country, eagerly spreading the gospel of sexy consent. Previously, he has worked as an Admissions Officer at Bowdoin, at Mercy Hospital in Portland, on SPACE’s event staff, and is the proud co-founder of Heart of Hospitality. In addition to SPACE, Cruger currently serves as a board member of the Restorative Justice Institute of Maine. View his TEDxDirigo talk on Modern Masculinity here

Chris Stiegler is the Program Chair of MFA in Studio Art at Maine College of Art, an art historian, and curator who founded the projects Town Hall Meeting and The Institute for American Art. Town Hall Meeting was a collaborative effort that produced symposiums, museum tours, and lectures. Stiegler serves as museum director for The Institute for American Art, a curatorial project that situates works of art and objects of culture within a residential setting. The museum shows a single work of art at a time to foster prolonged engagement with the audience, accompanied by associated film screenings, public readings, and other events. As a teacher he has focused on historiography, criticism of the contemporary, and 20th century art history. He holds BAs in art history and printmaking from the University of Delaware and a Master of Modern Art in connoisseurship, market history, from Christie’s Education. 

Emily Drain Bruce is the Vice President of Creative at L.L. Bean. She has held various roles within marketing in her 10 plus years there, an extension of her previous decade of experience leading digital marketing and e-commerce efforts within the Estée Lauder Companies in New York and at several innovative start ups.
Bruce came to board leadership through her visionary volunteerism as chair of the SPACE Marketing Committee. She helped lead organizational visioning on SPACE’s brand and mission, has shored up our nonprofit business model, and developed a survey method to better understand our audience and marketing of SPACE’s cultural offerings.
Her volunteerism with alternative nonprofit visual arts spaces has deep ties to her own creative passions and family. She majored in fine arts at the University of Colorado, Boulder with a focus on ceramic sculpture and photography. She currently serves on the board of Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

Justine Ludwig is the Executive Director of Creative Time. She has previously held positions at Dallas Contemporary and the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati. Ludwig has curated projects with many artists including Shilpa Gupta, Jill Magid, Pedro Reyes, Laercio Redondo, Paola Pivi, and Pia Camil. Her research interests include the intersections of aesthetics and architecture, violence, and globalization. Ludwig has an MA in Global Arts from Goldsmiths University of London and a BA in Art with a concentration in Art History from Colby College.

Jane Phillips was formerly the Vice President for College Advancement at Colby College and was prior to that was the leader of The Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges. Having earned a BA from Colby and an MA from NYU, Phillips oversaw hundreds of millions towards the ambitious Dare Northward campaign: seeking to raise $750 million to support the college and culturally revitalize Waterville, a former mill town in Maine. Prior to her work in Maine, she served as director of development for the Yale School of Art working with Dean Robert Storr; as director of development for New York University’s College of Arts and Sciences; and as a development officer at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan.

Pablo Anaya is the Director of Operations & Associate Director of Development for the ACLU of Maine. In this role, he works to build capacity for and engage supporters with the ACLU’s work. His work in nonprofits and philanthropy is fueled by visions for community change that sit at intersections of art, education, and social justice. Before moving to Maine, he held a range of museum development positions in his hometown of Chicago including the Art Institute of Chicago, Adler Planetarium, and Museum of Contemporary Art. He has a BS in art history and psychology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Advisory Board