Starting Friday, August 10, Downtown Bangor will be dotted with some unusual art installations for all to see as Penobscot Theatre Company unveils Art Outta the Box. In collaboration with PTC, a dozen area artists have transformed old newspaper vending machines, donated by the Bangor Daily News, into unique works of art, which will be sponsored or sold by auction to support the theatre.
"We had this outside-the-box idea," explains PTC board member Mary Budd, "and it's been exciting to see it evolve and assume a life of its own through the energy and creativity of these amazing artists." The idea was born last spring when Budd and PTC staff toured the BDN's headquarters and spied a number of defunct newspaper boxes in storage. Destined for the trash heap, they seemed ripe for reinvention, so with the paper's blessing PTC issued a call to local artists. The challenge was to take a box and create something evocative of the dramatic arts and representative of the transformative effect of theatre.
The response reflects the depth and diversity of Bangor's artistic community. Painter Carol Brooks covered her box with colorful magnolia blooms, an homage to Steel Magnolias, which PTC produced at the Bangor Parish House in 1995 and again at the Opera House in 2009. Reviewer Judy Harrison called the 2009 show, directed by Nathan Halvorson, "the best production since 'Little Shop of Horrors,' also directed by Halvorson..." "Little Shop" was the inspiration for Carol Michaud, who brought to life Audrey, the blood-thirsty singing plant at the heart of the beloved musical comedy. Michaud's sculptural piece, gloriously adapted and barely recognizable as a one-time newspaper box, is set for display in West Market Square in front of the Charles Inn.
Terri Sanzenbacher's inspiration came from the great bard. "Shakespeare's famous quote, 'All the World's a Stage,' is the title and theme of my work," she explains. Well-known faces from all walks of life and from many different eras are collaged onto three sides of the box, and Sanzenbacher has artfully incorporated text to engage and delight. "My intention is to generate thought and hopefully inspire viewers to open their minds to greater possibilities for themselves."
Annette Dodd, maker of fine-art mineral and silver jewelry and co-owner of the Rock & Art Shop in Bangor, and Amanda Boudreau are also among the participating artists. Dodd was eager to help fuel a project to enliven the downtown area and attract attention to local businesses and the creative community. Her transformed box, "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," will be featured outside the Rock & Art Shop. A couple doors down, the Central Street Farmhouse is hosting Boudreau's work, an umbrella-topped box inspired by "Singin' in the Rain." Nineteen-year-old Boudreau is a PTC patron and art enthusiast.
Rounding out the project participants is a group of artists associated with the University of Maine's Intermedia Master of Fine Arts program: Owen Smith, Kate Dawson, Jess LeClair, Matt LeClair, Amy Pierce, Heather Perry, Peg Killian, David Colagiovanni, and Neil Shelly. These artists are restoring the functionality of their adopted vending machines and repurposing them to serve as public receptacles for multiples and other fun, provocative, and affordable artwork. Kate Dawson, who has been spearheading the group's efforts, describes her vision for the so-called SAMboxes ("Street Art Machine boxes"): "We love the idea of a temporary art installation in the public sphere, but we don't want to see the SAMboxes go away in a few weeks. By engaging businesses to sponsor and host the SAMboxes over the long term, we aim to increase public accessibility to quality art. We're excited about the opportunity to support the Penobscot Theatre while giving area residents and visitors new ways to experience art."
PTC's artistic director Bari Newport adds: "We're thrilled to be participating in the Artwalk and helping to get great art out of the box and into the community. The creative spirit is alive and well in Greater Bangor!"
In addition to the businesses cited above, project pieces will be on display at Epic Sports, Rudman Winchell, the University of Maine Museum of Art, Thistles Restaurant, and other prominent locations in Downtown Bangor. ERA Dawson and Dawson Insurance are among the early project sponsors.
PTC will host a silent auction of the unique items at the Bangor Opera House, with bidding opening during the Artwalk on the evening of August 10. Minimum bid amounts will apply and interested parties will have the option to "Buy Now." More information and instructions will be available at the Opera House or online at www.penobscottheatre.org. All donations will be tax-deductible and proceeds will benefit the Penobscot Theatre Company.