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Announcing the 2024 Kindling Fund Grantees

SPACE is honored to award 12 Project Grants and 5 Research and Development Grants in this year’s cycle of the Kindling Fund totaling $65,000 in grantmaking. The Kindling Fund supports inventive, artist-organized initiatives that engage the public and the visual arts in new and meaningful ways. The funded projects below value community, freedom of expression, interdisciplinary, creative thinking, and sustaining artistic opportunity for creative peers. Grantees were juried from a pool of 74 submissions to the Kindling Fund.

The 2024 Kindling Fund Grantees are: Morgain Bailey (Presque Isle), Tehani Baldecchi (Portland), Shawn Brewer (South Portland with statewide and regional artists), Bethany Engstrom with Patricia Brace (Belfast/Portland/Biddeford), Amelia Garretson-Persans (South Portland), Leah Gauthier (Cumberland with statewide collaborators), Tyler Gilroy (Biddeford/Portland), Kehben Grier (Portland with statewide collaborators), Tristan Koepke (Portland), Bridget McAlonan with Inventing Trees (Topsham and statewide collaborators/touring), Lauren Olson (Hebron/Norway), Jordan Kendall Parks (South Portland), Veronica Pèrez (Westbrook), Anna Queen (Rockland/Hope), Brendan Shea (South Portland), Robyn Nicole Towle (Scarborough/Portland), and Sasha Wizansky (South Portland).

The Kindling Fund is administered by SPACE Gallery as part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts’ Regional Regranting Program. 

The Kindling Fund jury is composed of three individuals, one from the greater Warhol Regranting Program, one past grantee local to Maine, and one art leader who may have opportunity for artists in Maine further afield. This year’s jury was composed of: 

Nando Alvarez-Perez – Co-founder of Buffalo Institute of Contemporary Art, artist, and one of our newest partners in the Warhol Regional Regranting Program with the Generator Fund. 

Daniel Fuller – Art critic and independent curator based out of Atlanta while teaching at Emory University, former director of exhibitions at the ICA at MECA and former Curator of Atlanta Contemporary.

Jenny Ibsen – 2022-2023 grantee for “Fish Picnic” and printmaker, ceramicist, and storyteller based in Maine. 

in/Visible: Rural Queer Portraits

Research and Development grant
Grantee: Morgain Bailey
Collaborators: Pride Aroostook

Celebrating the lives of LGBTQIA people in rural northern Maine, in/Visible is a photographic portrait project by artist Morgain Bailey who will be receiving Research and Development funding. Art is an act of care and with this work, Morgain collaborates with individuals and community groups to create a space that celebrates queer lives during the month of June 2024.

Wilder Gardens

Research and Development Grant
Grantee: Tehani Baldecchi

Indigenous ceramic artist Tehani Baldecchi will receive Research and Development funding for a proposal to sculpt and install life-sized interpretive sculptures of Maine’s forageable mushrooms around a public trail. Future participants will “forage” for the art through exploring the landscape. Baldecchi hopes to engage people of all ages in a playful, unique outdoor art installation that evokes the gratitude they experience while foraging in Maine’s abundant forests. An original social media account will be created to share hints, best practices, and a full photo gallery of the art for those not lucky enough to make discoveries on the trail.

Animation Planet Film Festival

Grantee: Shawn Brewer
Collaborator: Josie Colt

Animation Planet is a regionally organized film festival with the mission to create a shared platform to showcase animated films made by local animators of all animation mediums and experience levels. The festival’s intention is to provide an accessible opportunity for animators to expose their work to the public and to build upon Northern New England’s community of animation creators and appreciators through workshops, demos and talks.

Performance Art Initiative (PAI)

Grantee: Bethany Engstrom
Collaborator: Patricia Brace

The Performance Art Initiative supports exposure, development, exhibition opportunities and audience engagement for Maine-based artists working in performance. Founded in 2023 by Patricia Brace and Bethany Engstrom, in consultation with artist Deborah Wing-Sproul, PAI is an artist-led collaborative effort that facilitates a deeper, more diverse dialogue of performance art in contemporary Maine art. PAI’s goal is to create a community for performance artists while serving as a resource, providing opportunities for expansion and sharing of the medium through rich dialogue around performance-based work. This includes the development of exhibitions, Performance Exchange, an online presence, panels, and workshops, where performance art is the primary medium. PAI collaborates with both emerging and established artists with a focus on interdisciplinary and varied approaches to community engagement and outreach.

Smut Today

Grantee: Amelia Garretson-Persans
Collaborators: Pablo Cebollon, Jennifer Debatis, Ben Babcock

Smut Today is a free monthly publication of erotic artwork and art writing created by contributing Maine artists. The project is about the fundamental eroticism of being in the world, how we connect to each other and the natural world, especially during a time when many societies feel so out of sync with natural processes. By sharing the intimate desires of its contributors, Smut Today hopes audiences will tune into their own inner passions and live a little more erotically.

Life Forms

Grantee: Leah Gauthier
Collaborators: Jackie Brown, Elaine K. Ng, Ashley Page

Life Forms is an experiment in artistic community building, and a series of four exhibitions of sculptural works by twelve artists with strong Maine ties, spanning four years. The first show, Life Forms Grow, will feature the works of Jackie Brown, Leah Gauthier, Elaine K. Ng, and Ashley Page. Thematic crosscurrents include, climate change and interconnectivity; the vulnerability, grace, and complexities of the Black experience; physical and psychological structures of site; the potential of our material environment to hold meaning; and blurring of the real and imagined. Each artist is growing new ideas, bending expectations, questioning societal assumptions, and making bold new connections of ideas and materials.

Portland Noise

Grantee: Tyler Gilroy

Portland Noise is an online community resource for artists, performers, audiences, and arts venues. The project’s goal is to support the arts by being a consolidated source for all live music and sound events in Portland, highlighting Maine-based artists, and, in turn, strengthening the scene by mapping out the soundscape of the city on any given night. Portland Noise promotes all shows equally: big or small, DIY or legit, free or ticketed, and is committed to giving equal exposure and attention to both new artists performing for the first time and established groups on tour.

Moonbats Postershop: A Culture Wars Lemonade Stand

Grantee: Kehben Grier

Striking images that call attention to current events are needed more than ever before. Posters are seeds, and when crafted with care and disseminated widely, have a lasting impact on the trajectory of social movements. A new space is taking hold in Portland specifically designed to celebrate this tradition and messaging strategy. The support of the Kindling Fund will commission both local and international artists to help design, print and reprint this rotating inventory of passionately Slow Media.

Emotional Tofu

Grantee: Tristan Koepke
Collaborator: Emilia Bruno

Emotional Tofu is a multimedia performance project developed by choreographer Tristan Koepke that explores speculative masculinities and the sad boy trope. Koepke and his collaborator, Emilia Bruno, present iterations and complications of white masculinities, as expressed by musician and producer Post Malone in his recent live performances. Koepke and Bruno mine Post Malone’s dance breaks, using them as vehicles to complicate hegemonic masculinity and insisting on the presence of their own queer bodies.

Inventing Trees Pop Up Puppetry Theater and Mobile Makers Lab

Grantee: Bridget McAlonan
Collaborators: Timothy Eichfeld, Leonid Eichfeld, and Vivianne Courant

Inventing Trees Popup Puppetry Theater and Mobile Makers’ Lab aims to bring simple puppet Making techniques and storytelling practices to often overlooked parts of our community. This mobile popup theater will work with local rural libraries and town offices to offer community membrs free opportunities to make and play with puppetry. The hope is to offer accessible methods of creating puppets and stories so that Mainers can build deeper stronger connections with each other and the world.

Blooms and Hues

Research and Development Grant
Grantee: Lauren Olson

Natural dyes provide a way into nature’s true colors. This project would establish a Natural Dye Plant Garden at the Alan Day Community Garden. This garden would not only cultivate plants but would be a place to share knowledge about extracting vibrant hues from nature. The garden will allow for the creation of large wall hanging banners, painted and dyed with colors from marigolds, indigo, cosmos, and more. Techniques like mordant paste and layering will help to create intricate designs. Pieces will then be showcased in a walk through garden exhibit, inviting others to explore all of the color possibilities.

Emergence: Art in a Free Surface

Grantee: Jordan Kendall Parks

Emergence: Art in a Free Surface temporarily installs environmentally conscious, minimal impact works of art along the trails of Portland’s many public green spaces and urban hiking trails. Visitors are invited to interact with natural and human history, while simultaneously viewing contemporary art as part of an intersection of art and the outdoors.

braiding circles

Research and Development Grant
Grantee: Veronica A. Pèrez

Braiding Circles are community workshops centered around crafting three-strand braids from artificial hair and textiles. While engaged in this creative process, participants hold candid conversations about identity, life experiences, and the profound notion of belonging, specifically from a BIPOC lens. Initially conceived to produce additional braids for larger sculptures, these gatherings have organically transformed into safe havens for unreserved and open dialogues.


Grantee: Anna Queen

INLAND is an exhibition space and residency in Hope, Maine, that bolsters the thriving local artist community by supporting the artists that reside here, while bringing artists from away and their work to the area with dynamic programming and community gatherings. The program prioritizes emerging artists, focusing on long-term support and mentorship. It is a destination for artists seeking space and support to create projects that are important to considering complex and genuine human experience and concerns. The exhibition space hosts programming in the same vein, exhibiting work from local artists along with resident artist alumni. The Kindling Fund will support the first resident artist, Jamie Gray Williams, working on site for a month, and a two-person exhibition of her work alongside Bradley McCrary.

Neighborhood Spaces

Research and Development Grant
Grantee: Brendan Shea
Collaborators: olivier

Neighborhood Spaces is receiving a Research and Development Grant toward their proposal of supporting and facilitating contemporary art exhibits in residential spaces for public viewing. Each resident selects an artist to exhibit in their home and Neighborhood Spaces funds the project and provides organizational support. This organizational support includes creating advertising materials, facilitating documentation, assisting in exhibition programming, and providing food/drink.

Neighborhood Spaces praises your residence as it exists. Whether you live in a messy studio apartment, a single-family home, or a campsite, the context of your space becomes the parameters for the exhibition. With the Research and Development grant, Neighborhood Spaces will pilot one exhibition in 2024.

Queer Makers’ Market

Grantee: Robyn Nicole Towle

The Queer Makers’ Market is a monthly market and vibrant community of local makers who identify as lgbtqia+. The market, organized and flamboyantly led by artist Robyn Nicole of R Nicole Studio, provides a space for queer makers of all varieties and in all seasons of profession to engage in a marketplace with a low and flexible cost of entry. The Queer Makers’ Market provides a space for a marginalized group of artists with disproportionally low access to safe spaces and financial resources the opportunity to build their confidence as professionals in a low stakes platform of supportive peers.

Pencil Magazine

Grantee: Sasha Wizansky

Pencil Magazine is a printed, biannual magazine that celebrates the analog by publishing visual art and text created using only graphite pencils on paper. Pencils are a near-universal, basic tool for creative expression. Our hypothesis is that the challenge to deliberately use pencils will inspire artists, writers, and readers to create space for focus and calm in their lives and connect with a community of people with similar inclinations. Curated, designed, and printed in Maine, Pencil Magazine will feature artists and writers from Maine and across the U.S.

SPACE Reader

🕯️ The dance show of the summer is Scapegoat Garden’s Liturgy|Order|Bridge. The Hartford-based company calls upon Black church traditions and ideas of faith, nature, fashion, and experimentation in their limited performance run June 20-22. Tickets available now, presented by SPACE at Mechanics’ Hall. 🕯️