regional roundup

regional roundup: portland, maine (part 1 of 3)

by anne

last month we introduced you to our new regional roundup column, where we look at place, the artists who inhabit it, and how each influence the other. for round one we traveled to iceland, but for the next three tuesdays we’ll be turning it stateside. last week’s guest blog posts by lisa dejohn featuring the new england creative scene was the perfect way to set the stage as we move further up the coast to portland, maine. many of these artists will be very familiar to you and you’ve never associated them with portland, others may be new to your eyes. either way, there is much to see and inspiration to be had. click here to check out the first set of 5 artists (or just click “read more” below), and tune in next tuesday for part 2. thanks so much to all the talented artists who participated! –anne

{portland map by patrick corrigan, stay tuned next week for his feature in the roundup}


Karen Gelardi

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
Cape Porpoise, Maine. Now I live in South Portland.

2. Describe your work
Modular components that evolve from ink drawings into varied materials for collages and installations– printed fabrics, sewn sculptures, plastic forms, photocopies, custom-made goods like pot holders and books. All sharing the same DNA of the original lines in the drawings. Cross-pollinating and evolving.


3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
I am influenced by the trees here, the ocean and the way the natural world blends in with the manmade world, pushes back or adapts to it. Pinecones dropping onto the road. The way the pine trees grow around the power lines. Plastics, ropes, and seaweed that washes up on the beach. Also– family history is part of my experience here—this is mixed into my work as well.

4. Where do you go in Portland/Maine when you want to feel inspired?
I like to visit friends in their studios or go to everyday places like the bakery or walk along the East End trail by the ocean.


5. How would you describe the Portland/Maine design scene?
Hard working. Independent. Resourceful. Frontiersy.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
I would go with my family to The Bradford Camps or maybe hunt for
wallpaper in Helsinki, Finland.

{images: components, triangle construction, printed fabric}

For more of Karen’s work click here.

Wary Meyers

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
John is from Connecticut, Linda is from Brooklyn via Indiana.

2. Describe your work
We design things like objects, interiors, clothing, paintings… This summer we’re writing a book about the custom redesigning of objects found in cast-off places, like the side-of-the-road, or yard sales, flotsam, jetsam, …


3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
Much of our work involves being resourceful, for instance, the interiors we’ve done have always been on shoestring budgets, like $2000 total, so we rely on either finding things at yard sales or thrift stores, or making things out of raw materials. So we could be influenced locally by, for example, the wood of an old Maine barn that’s fallen down, blue willow pottery shards that have washed up on an island, a Winslow Homer sea, or an Andrew Wyeth costume. We’re interested in how age affects design, or could affect it enough to achieve a nice balance, and with that a new design. Say perhaps, if a wooden chair is underwater and becomes covered in barnacles, and slowly the wood rots away as the barnacles multiply, when you pull it out of the water you have 50.000 barnacles in the shape of a chair. So in that regard, Maine is a perfect place for us to work.


4. Where do you go in Portland/Maine when you want to feel inspired?

Usually we’ll walk down to the old docks/railroad yard along the water, or out to an island, but more often than not we look to our bookcases for inspiration, and lately I’ve been eating alot before I go to sleep.

5. How would you describe the Portland/Maine design scene?
It’s a small, talented group inclined to work by old-world craftsmanship rather than computer-driven design.


6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
Casa Malaparte, in Capri.

{images: Time Out New York trashed chair redesign, chippendale skeleton chairs, Linda + John’s living room, 4 cats pet portrait [painting], Linhardt Design Studio}

For more of Linda and John’s work click here.

Talking Paintings

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I’m originally from New Jersey and I now live in Maine for the past 15 years. I went to the Maine College of Art in Portland and only recently moved away to the mountains of northwestern Maine, however Portland will always be near and dear to my heart.

2. Describe your work
I would describe my fine art as slightly whimsy with ulterior motives and with my “Talking Paintings” series I am striving to create something universal, something that most every one can enjoy.
3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
Nature is a huge influence for me, its not something that often surfaces in my work but it gives me a sense of space and clarity of mind, and with that I feel like I can create much more easily, its important to my process. Which I guess explains why I moved from Portland to the sticks of northwestern Maine.

4. Where do you go in Portland/Maine when you want to feel inspired?
David Wolfe’s print shop (Wolfe Editions) in the Bakery building on Pleasant St, something about all of those archaic machines whirling around and of course interesting company. The eastern and western promenades (either will do), Yosaku, Bangkok Tai, Peaks Island to name a few.


5. How would you describe the Portland/Maine design scene?
The Portland art/design scene is unique among scenes in my humble opinion. Portland artists and designers are one of a kind. Its like every one is tapping into something inside themselves and creating something that is truly their own. I sometimes think its because we are so “cut off “ from trends and what’s going on that we are left to draw inspiration from obscure and surprising sources. At least that’s been my experience. Portland is truly a wonderful town with great intentions and a supportive community among artists and designers.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
Although I have never been and know very little about it, I am constantly feeling the pull northward to Nova Scotia. I just have a really good feeling when I think about being there. All of those rolling hills and rocks, its like heaven.

{images: talking paintings with moveable mouths, He Sits Below the Salt, Love Birds}

For more of Justin’s work click here, or his etsy shop here.

Small Victory

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
We are both from the New York area. We moved to Portland from NYC in 2000. We bought a house in South Portland in 2004.

2. Describe your work
Small Victory Studios produces limited-edition designs, created by Maine artists, handprinted on organic cotton shirts. Each month we produce a limited edition run of shirts designed by a local artist. The designs are based on images made with traditional media (pencil, woodcut) rather than digital media. We are also both artists and exhibit our painting and sculpture locally and nationally.


3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
Maine is a very distinct place and the people here are fierce about recognizing and supporting local businesses, projects, bands, and artists. The Yankee DIY aesthetic is alive and well.

4. Where do you go in Portland/Maine when you want to feel inspired?
Portland has a great downtown, but in just a few minutes you can be deep in the pine woods or on a rocky beach. Two Lights State Park is a magical spot.


5. How would you describe the Portland/Maine design scene?
Recently it seems that the design community in Portland is starting to create its own identity rather than just be a satellite scene of Boston or New York. There is now a Maine AIGA, a Pecha Kucha, and some Portland designers are starting to get national recognition. It is starting to feel like a place to be, rather than a place to escape to.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
Jeff: I am a big fan of nautical non-fiction and I would love to visit Tahiti, Pitcairn and the other islands that played a role in the Age of European Exploration.
Lydia: Tuscany.

{images: Melinda Barnes t-shirt design for Small Victory, Jeff Badger “Capital [throw it away]”, Lydia Badger Eurasian Red Squirrels and Cacti

For more from Small Victory click here, Lydia’s work here, and Jeff’s here.


1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I grew up on Mount Desert Island, a stone’s throw from Acadia National Park. I’ve lived in Portland since 1997.

2. Describe your work
Mixed media collage, illustration and printmaking are my major interests, but there’s a new obsession with encaustic painting happening right now, too. I work a lot with layers and little bits of this and that. I will be doing a show this fall with Matte Stevens at Nahcotta Gallery in Portsmouth, NH and I’m excited to be doing a lot of encaustic for that. jennifer2.jpg

3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
My work is absolutely influenced by where I live: I think Maine is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I wasn’t nearly appreciative enough about my surroundings when I was a kid, but now the physical beauty of Maine overwhelms me on an almost daily basis. A lot of patterns I draw are based on favorites: striped beach rocks, bits of lichen, spring buds, scorched blueberry fields, branches, sea urchins, pinecones, and other bits of nature. I love to boil these forms with a more modern design element.

4. Where do you go in Portland/Maine when you want to feel inspired?
It depends on whether I am seeking drawing/creating inspiration or personal interaction. Favorite places for drawing are Kettle Cove in Cape Elizabeth or up the coast in Acadia – especially the Asticou Azalea Gardens in Northeast Harbor, or out on an island for the day of beach combing. Favorite places for inspiration from other artists/makers are Ferdinand, Edith and Edna, or visiting a friends’ studio: Maria Vettese from port2port press, Jennifer Muller of Lucky Tangerine Design and Martha Kearsley of Strong Arm Bindery all have amazing creative spaces that I’ve loved hanging out in, just to name a few.


5. How would you describe the Portland/Maine design scene?
The is a a great independent, collaborative spirit here. Portland is chock full of great galleries – some favorites include The ICA at Maine College of Art, SPACE Gallery, and the Front Room Gallery in South Portland.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
I turn 40 next year and am really hoping to swing a birthday trip to Sweden. I am so inspired by the art and design I see happening there, and exploring the gorgeous natural landscape really appeals.

{images: tempo, botanical, butterfly garden}

For more of Jennifer’s work check out her etsy shop or blog.

Suggested For You


  • Are you all planning to come to Dallas? I’m interested in learning more about the stationary artists in the Dallas area. Thanks!

  • Hooray! Artists/Designers in Portland all seem to have a wonderful, vibrant and original aesthetics! It’s good to see some of our best and brightest getting a nod!

  • Yea! I grew up in Maine, just about 30 mins north of Portland. In High School it was always a big deal to go to the Old Port and see the street vendors and crazy awesome architecture. I love those old cobble stone street. There’s one that’s always full of whirly-gigs for lawns. It’s a sight.

  • The Lindhart Design Studio looks amazing – from the link to Wary Meyers’ website, it looks like all of those jewelry light-boxes were built by John and Linda from recovered barn wood. Gorgeous and green! And the painting of “the jeweler” is incredibly cool. I can’t wait to check out this store in person…wish it were in Maine!

  • I’m in love with Ptrick Corrigan! I am a map freak and the one used at the header of this tour is wonderful.

  • I’m moving back to Portland from Chicago in a few months and while I knew it had a great arts scene I’m glad to see it rounded-up on here!

  • Where can I purchase that Portland map drawing? I am getting married in Portland in September and this map would be absolutely perfect! Please let me know where I can purchase it.

  • Man, this is a great installment. We visited Portland for the first time, a year ago. I could not believe that there was so much talent. From Ferdinand to Angela Adams to Rogues Gallery – and the music scene is so good too. I second Alicia (above), we are trying to figure out a way to do 1/2 a year there and 1/2 in Brooklyn.

  • Yes that map is great- what a terrific image to have for the Round-Up! I love Jennifer Judd McGee’s work ( “boil”- what a great word!) and also Karen Gelardi’s (frontiersy!) , and of course the brilliant Wary Meyers.

  • Right on! We rock in Maine. Glad to see the love for Patrick Corrigan and Karen Gelardi, my faves. Also, hooray for MECA. Check out Peaks when you’re here; it is THE Rock of rocks. Especially at lowtide.

  • Awesome! Thanks for featuring Portland and it’s artists…I’m a Mainer, too, and am thrilled to discover so many talented people I hadn’t heard of before.

  • OMG! I am going to Portland for the 4th of July weekend, I have always had a random hankering to go to Maine and finally I am getting to do it soon and this series comes up. THANK YOU!!! I cannot wait to check out the art and maybe I’ll find something I can’t leave behind!

  • I was just in Portland for the first time a few weekends ago. I had some great meals, the people were incredibly friendly and the architecture in the commercial and residential areas was inspiring. It seems like a lovely place to live a creative life. And cheap too!

  • My favorites are the Wary Meyers and Justin Richel -I really enjoy their blend of history and imagination and wit. It’s also nice to see Richel having a show in Switzerland and Myers working in New York, but both being grounded in Maine. Also, what a great idea going town to town like this- I loved your Iceland feature and this is just as terrific. Cheers!

  • WOW! first iceland and now maine!? grew up in a tiny maine town and my first time on a plane was several hours to iceland. two of the most important places in my heart – thank you!

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