regional roundup

regional roundup: portland, maine (part 2 of 3)

by anne

there is no question that summer has arrived in all her glory. leaving us with frizzy hair and visions of winter dancing through our heads, a trip north to maine sounds straight up heavenly at this point. luckily today we have our second regional roundup allowing us a little vicarious travel to a land of more bearable temperatures (you can click here for part 1). next week is our final installment – accompanied by an extra special treat – so be sure to check back. without further ado, click here or the link below for another great taste of the portland design scene. –anne

{wood shingle love photo by maria vettese. . . stay tuned, she’s in part 3 next week!}

read more. . .


1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, went to art school in Boston, and now reside in Portland, Maine.

2. Describe your work
I make things, paint, illustrate, make prints, and make music. The visual work is sometimes color, sometimes black and white. The music was once described as a new genre: “Heavy Gentle”. I thought that was a good one!
3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
New England winters affect me. I love the architecture here, and I am very interested in history. The ocean must have an influence, I swim alot in the summertime. It’s good for my mind.


4. Where do you go in Portland/Maine when you want to feel inspired?
I go to Fort Awesome (my studio), or the maybe the sea, or my friend Johnny J’s house.

5. How would you describe the Portland/Maine design scene?
The scene is helpful and friendly ..sometimes bizzare.


6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
I’d put my motorcyle on a cargo frieghter , secure a berth for myself and my galpal, then land on the shores of Portugal. From there, we’d ride overland to Greece, having thrift shop adventures and trying new cuisine and sampling fine wines along the way.

{images: illustrated insert for my band’s new record, painting from a show in Eastport, Maine, wall painting collaboration with Karen Gelardi, “The Brown Rabbit” (a hand painted distortion pedal I make for guitar players. The lead singer of Wilco has been using a Brown Rabbit on tour for the past year or so. Pretty rad!)}

For more of Pat’s work, click here.

Lauren Fensterstock

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I grew up on the fringes of New York City with the fervent belief that I could never exist outside the big apple. A few years ago I traveled to coastal Maine for the weekend and unexpectedly fell in love with the gritty urban feel of Portland. We bought an 1820 carriage house downtown and added a contemporary edition. This is now my home and studio.

2. Describe your work
Right now, I am making a lot of ephemeral works out of precious materials. I think of them as precarious heirlooms. They have the labor and the craft of something very permanent but are meant to be temporary. I find there is something very spiritual about just letting go of the time and the materials and having an experience in the moment.


3. How is your work influenced by where you live?

I think there is a quiet nature to my work that is influenced by the long Maine winter. I tend to hunker down and work on long meticulous projects every winter. My current project is a large garden made out of paper for a solo show this fall at the Museum at Bowdoin College. Ultimately, I think I spent the winter creating an alternate out of doors out of pure necessity and desire.


4. Where do you go in Portland/Maine when you want to feel inspired?
I love to walk along the industrial waterfront. I think a lot of people might prefer the park on the Western Promenade, but I like the docks. There is something very romantic about the fishy smells and wet cobblestone. There is a humbling honesty about the activity, the intense labor, and the epic nature of man braving the sea. Also the fish is fantastic! I love to get whatever is just coming off the boats.

5. How would you describe the Portland/Maine design scene?
A lot of people pass through Maine. We have been a retreat for artists for a long time, so the scene is fairly diverse. There is a constant stream of openings, lectures, and events. When the good weather comes it can be hard to settle down and get to work. I always long for the solitude of the winter. That is when the artists here really get busy.
6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
I am dying to visit the Hermitage in St Petersburg. I’d like to go in the winter and wear a big fur hat like out of Dr. Zhivago.
I always seem to take winter trips to even colder places. I guess no matter how far you travel, you just can’t escape your own nature.

{images: Grey Garden detail, Butterfly Tondo No 5, My First Maine Landscape, Diamond Drawing No 6, Collar for Small Victory Studios}

For more of Lauren’s work click here.


1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
Friederike is originally from Germany and Colin from Freeport, Maine. We both live in Portland at the moment.

2.Describe your work
We have a gallery space in Portland that acts our creative base called Field- we create monthly installations with wall paintings, limited edition printwork and furniture design. Every show is a response to what we see and experience around us.
3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
Our work is directly inspired by the Maine environment. We take long walks, collect materials through photos and drawings and explore all the different habitats that this landscape has to offer—the ocean, the forest, mountains and fields.

4. Where do you go in Portland/Maine when you want to feel inspired?
Portland is surrounded by wonderful parks and walks that get you away from a hectic day in minutes: Two Lights State Park, East End Promenade, Mackworth Island, Fort Williams are just a few desitnations that we often seek out for early morning walks., ocean light spotting or a picnic—we always leave with a fresh perspective and good ideas.

5. How would you describe the Portland/Maine design scene?
Strong, salty and driven by the elements—
Portland is full of independently thinking creatives with a desire to do things in their very own and unique way. It’s a great place for artists.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
Friederike: “North”
Colin: “Grandmother’s Heath on Whitehead Island

{images: from last show “Maybe,” December drawings, wallpaintings project, green tangle}

For more from Field, click here.
Joe Kievitt

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I am from a handful of places in Maine, all on the coast; Belfast, Northport and Cape Elizabeth. After time in San Francisco and Brooklyn I now I live back in Maine on Munjoy Hill in Portland.

2. Describe your work
Ink drawings, tile mosaics and now some wall installations with wood. More and more I am incorporating methodical techniques and systems from carpentry and woodworking. I’m inspired by particular detail in nature, Chinese “flower and bird” painting, textile design and op-art.


3. How is your work influenced by where you live?

Well, the beauty of the landscape here is probably my primary influence. I spend a lot of time looking, often at trees and flowers, particularly in spring. I have started sewing and the textiles that I use for sewing things for my home are working there way into my drawings and mosaics. I also learn from, and am inspired by, many of the artists, designers and craftspeople here.

4. Where do you go in Portland/Maine when you want to feel inspired?
I spend a lot of time exploring the islands when the weather permits. Richmond Island off of Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth is my absolute favorite. Seeing music is also another significant outlet for me. Space Gallery being the best place for that.


5. How would you describe the Portland/Maine design scene?
There are a lot of small designers and artists blurring the lines between the two genres here and the quality seems to be getting better and better. With the increasing cost of living in urban areas and the ability to access information from anywhere in the world more and more artists and designers are choosing Maine and Portland specifically. It is no longer a provincial place.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
Angel Falls, Venezuela!

{images: untitled ink on paper, ink on paper, mosaic installation}

For more of Joe’s work, click here.

Anna Hepler

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I was born in Boston, raised in Western Mass, and lived in the mid-west, south-west, north-west, South Korea and NYC before moving to Portland, Maine in 2001.

2. Describe your work
All of what I make, whether drawings or sculpture, strives to represent the weightless geometry and suspended choreography of flocks, swarms, and fireworks. I want to capture the sublime fragility of these fleeting moments.


3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
When I lived in Seoul, South Korea my work was infused with hot pink and red because (I think) of the neon colors present in my immediate environment. In New England, however, my work tends to be spare and graphic. Here it is more concerned with structure than color and feels both objective and austere. anna31.jpg

4. Where do you go in Portland/Maine when you want to feel inspired?
Inward. If I need a break from the studio I go to Mackworth Island and walk the perimeter trail.

5. How would you describe the Portland/Maine design scene?

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
North, or to the desert.

{images: Anna’s studio; Fall,Scatter, Float; spheres}

For more of Anna’s work click here or check out her blog.

Suggested For You


  • I have a strange and inordinate fascination with Maine. I’ve never been but am DYING to go! I don’t know if this is helping ease my fixation or add to it, Grace, but am quite happy with the results so far! Such amazing work from all of these artists!!! I’m gonna get a whole lot less done today! :)

  • Wonderful! My family is moving from Boston to Maine (next week!! eek!) and I am happy to learn about all the wonderful art and creative people living in Maine. I am hoping the space we will have at our new digs in Brunswick will allow me to dust off the paint and brushes after many years of big city/small space living. Will be sure to check out some of the places mentioned. :) Thank you!

  • I’m from Providence and one of my best friend’s is from Maine (and both designers!). I truly love the natural yet gritty New England feel of both small cities and the genuine quality and simple beauty that comes from the local artists. Can’t wait for part 3!

  • Thank you for picking Portland.
    We love living here. The Portland Museum of Art, galleries, studios, college galleries and museums, Center for Contemporary Art, MECA…I could go on and on…

  • I can’t wait to go to Maine this summer. I miss it… haven’t been in the summer season for years.

    Thanks for showing off more great talent from Portland!

  • Portland, Maine is one of America’s great small cities… wonderful series you’ve got going here.. makes me miss home! :)

  • We live in Western New York, and vacation on the coast just outside of Portland ME every summer. You have inspired me to take a day trip into the city this time. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • The greater Portland community is full of bright, talented, creative people as shown by the successful group featured. Thanks for including our area!

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.