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American Rescue Plan Maine Project Grantee Progress Report Part 1 – Summer and Music

In 2022, SPACE administered Local Arts Agency subgranting funds to 69 artist project grants. The funds were made available through the American Rescue Plan as an expansion of our organization’s nine years of grant-making.

Through the final weeks of 2023, we’ll be providing updates and more information for those project grants to receive ARP funding — right here on the SPACE Reader.

Click here for more info about jury and the statewide distribution of projects selected.

Grantee: Adrian O’Barr
Project Name: Wildflower’s album Green World
Based in: Portland

The scene at an outdoor Wildflower performance on the Eastern Promenade in Portland, July 20th, 2023
The cover of Wildflower’s forthcoming album Seabirds

Project update: Wildflower’s Green World is a studio album recorded at Machines with Magnets in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The American Rescue Plan funding allowed for the final days of tracking and the mixing the record.

“Everything went as planned and the record is now fully finished, awaiting digital and physical release in the spring of next year,” said O’Barr. “We just released the first song on the album on our Bandcamp page to help raise some additional funds for the pressing of vinyl records!”

On receiving funding: “Public arts funding has meant a ton to me, both in regards to finishing this project without having to compromise on quality and shoring up my own financial stability while making my work. I try to pay my collaborators and work with other people I admire, so having the extra resources has also allowed me the capacity to invest in other artists and my own musical community.”

Night Bloom Records

Grantee: Anastasia Inciardi
Project Name: Inciardi Tomato Project
Based in: Portland

A page from the Inciardi Tomato Project’s zine (collages by Addison Wagner)

Project update: The Inciardi Tomato Project’s seed-saving and art-book project on the Inciardi tomato has become “slightly more expansive than what we had originally imagined,” Anastasia Inciardi reports.

“While the central focus and goals of the project remain the same, we are now looking at our zine as the first of a series on seed stories and the genetic and cultural preservation of our food crops.”

As far as the Inciardi tomato leg of the project, Anastasia and company are well into growing, harvesting and saving Inciardi tomato seeds.

Inciardi tomato seeds

“I imagine we’ve saved close to 1000 seeds at this point and tomatoes continue to ripen,” Inciardi said.

The group host an Inciardi Tomato Harvest and Seed-Saving Event at Whatley Farm over Labor Day weekend. Attendees took home a jar of fermenting seeds from their tomato and instructions on next-steps with the hope that they will grow their own Inciardi tomatoes in future seasons and share the seeds and stories with friends and family!”

Their final steps for finishing the project include completing and polishing the written portions of the zine, including interview reports. They plan to include an envelope containing Inciardi tomato seeds in the back cover of each of the 100 printed editions, and a digital version of the book will still be published online for public access. 

MOFGA Article
Portland Press Herald: When the family heirloom is an heirloom tomato
New York Times: At this vending machine, four quarters get you one surprise artwork

Grantee: Carand Burnet
Project Name: Kioea‘s album Stand Tall
Based in: Livermore Falls

Project update: Carand Burnet’s band, Kioea, released their full-length album, Stand Tall, via Bandcamp on August 18, 2023. The Maine ARP funding went toward the album’s final recording session and production costs. Kioea played a free show at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art on August 12, 2023, to celebrate the album release.

Kioea’s album Stand Tall on CD perched in a tuft of daisies

“Public funding for the arts creates a better quality of life for all. It can unite community members, help improve mental health, give those with diverse backgrounds a voice, and create positive, lasting experiences.”

With the album release behind them, the band is still looking to get the word out.

“Local visibility and creating connections with Maine venues and organizations are ongoing challenges, especially for a musician who needs a manager, booking agent, or label,” Burnet said.

Kioea website
Guitar Radio Show
Live at the CMCA (YouTube)

Grantee: Jenny Ibsen
Project Name: Fish Picnic
Based in: Portland

An array of Fish Picnic menus rest on a tablecloth surrounded by enjoyed vegetables, compotes and other side dishes

By Ibsen’s account, this year’s Fish Picnic has been a huge success. Two summer Fish Picnic feasts were had in 2023, with ARP funds supplemented by a partial Kindling Fund grant.

“At this casual, outdoors, family-style seating, the food is just a vessel to share community at the table with one another,” Ibsen said. “Fish Picnic is a fish-forward banquet inspired by eating side-by-side with strangers and loved ones, sharing stories across the table as loaves of bread get passed back and forth, and the cold, salty ocean that we’re so lucky to have access to in Maine.”

July and September dinners each had around 40 attendees, and relied on volunteers to help set up and break down. Demand for Fish Picnic has been strong, according to Ibsen. Both dinners were ticketed on Eventbrite with an automatic release of tickets two weeks before the event. Both events sold out within one hour of tickets releasing, and both had waitlists.

“The dinners themselves were beautiful and well-documented (volunteer photographers have been crucial). People have expressed feeling immense gratitude for the dinner serving as a community space, the accessibility of an outdoor event (esp. during continuing Covid concerns), and delicious, thoughtful food.”

Jenny Ibsen sets up for Fish Picnic

“I’ve gotten to meet lots of new strangers, as is the focus and intention of the meal, and specifically, a few BIPOC artists who have been excited to find food-centric community in Maine, as well as some self-identified disabled/immunocompromised folks who expressed gratitude for outdoor, Covid-conscious events,” Ibsen said. “I’ve also developed a few strong relationships with farmers and other food purveyors, such as my flower supplier, the fishmonger, and several local veggie farms.”

Jenny Ibsen
Interview in the SPACE Reader
Maine Women Magazine

Grantee: Sam Finkelstein
Project Name: Aural Transmission
Based in: Rockland

A pan flute by Sam Finkelstein

Project summary: Aural Transmission is an exhibition of stone sculpture accompanied by a sculpted soundscape. Objects on display will be comprised of instrument-inspired forms and functioning stone loudspeakers. The internal and external vibrations produced by the interaction between tools and material during a live carving are recorded, modulated, and then amplified through sculpture already existing in the space. This project is an exploration of the way vibration shapes material and sound.

Project update: Aural Transmission has evolved since its conception. Upon carving the first lute form, Finkelstein bumped up against the challenge of figuring out the best way to amplify its sound. After some research on acoustic pickups, with plans to add strings to the instrument, they came across piezoelectric technology as an option. This led to an important realization: “that stone is not the inert/analog material I had always thought of it as.”

A stone lute by Sam Finkelstein

“While the West has written off the notion of crystals having energetic properties as New Age ‘woo woo’, it’s actually ordered arrangements of crystals on chipboards that allow us to build computers, access the internet, artificial intelligence, etc.,” they said.

As the project has become more complex than anticipated, Finkelstein plans to meet with a local sound engineer to discuss building pickups specifically for stone instruments, and put out a call for collaborators in performing with the instruments once they’re finished.

In July, Finkelstein participated in a 10-day public carving event at the Boothbay Region Land Trust, held by the Maine Stone Workers Guild.

On receiving funding: “In an ever-increasingly divided world, it feels urgent that we use art as a tool to (re)build community…Regardless of educational or financial background, someone moving through public space may seek out or happen upon works of art and have an impromptu experience with them…The first step in mending socio-economic / political differences is creating shared experiences that provide a bridge for empathy.”

Sam Finkelstein’s Aural Transmission

Grantee: Geneviève Beaudoin
Project Name: Kid 1 + 2: A Short Musical Film
Based in: Brunswick

A still from “Kid 1” by Dead Gowns, directed by Emilie Silvestri.

Project Update: Teaming up with a small crew of collaborators, Dead Gowns — Beaudoin’s songwriting, recording and performance project — developed a concept short musical film, Kid 1 + 2, in conjunction with their forthcoming double-single release of the same name coming out in October of 2023.

The short film music video, directed by Emilie Silvestri with a small crew, is available to view here.

On receiving funding: “Without public arts funding, I would never have the opportunity to collaborate across mediums with other artists in Maine,” Beaudoin said. “This grant allowed my team of working creatives the time and bandwidth to come together in pursuit of this project.”

Dead Gowns

SPACE Reader

🕯️ This weekend only! 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. 🕯️