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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: December 30, 2016

As traditional galleries close, a former dentist’s office in the State Theatre building starts to show art

Written by: Bob Keyes

 

Jared Haug and Elizabeth Spavento in their new gallery Border Patrol. Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Jared Haug and Elizabeth Spavento in their new gallery Border Patrol.
Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Its art scene in flux, Portland gets a new gallery this week. Border Patrol, a contemporary gallery that features art by artists who are not from Maine, will open in the State Theatre building on Friday as the part of the inaugural First Friday Art Walk of the new year.

Founded by Elizabeth Spavento and Jared Haug, Border Patrol explores the intersection between contemporary art and corporate aesthetics, said Spavento, who also works as the visual arts coordinator at SPACE Gallery.

The Border Patrol theme reflects the office-space nature of the gallery and the building. Border Patrol is on the third floor, in Suite 309. Among other things, the space once housed a dental office. It feels like anything but an art gallery, which appealed to Spavento and Haug. They like the “noir atmosphere” of the space, with its sturdy wooden door and mid-20th century architectural details. It’s easy to imagine a private detective keeping his offices here back in the day.

"Burner" by James Herman will be on display at Border Patrol. Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

“Burner” by James Herman will be on display at Border Patrol.
Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

They like taking unusual spaces and transforming them with art. Their first exhibition, “Now Burning,” is a small sculpture show that includes incense and burners made by about 30 artists from the Unites States and Canada. The exhibition is meant to cleanse the space of its residue and prepare it for its new incarnation as an art gallery, Haug said.

The couple moved to Maine last summer from Portland, Oregon, where both were involved in the art scene there. Haug was instrumental in Ditch Project, an artist-run studio, installation and performance space in Springfield, Oregon. Spavento was co-curator of “All Rise,” a two-year public art project in Seattle that involved temporary visual art installations and site-specific performance art.

Border Patrol allows them to continue their independent curatorial work. The gallery opens amid a minor bubble of activity in the city’s visual arts community. As traditional fine art galleries close, alternative and underground spaces are opening — the all-women art collective New Fruit is a good example. Border Patrol is another. The people who are pioneering these spaces are of a younger generation and are not bound by tradition in theory or in practice.

“We want to have fun, and we also want to do something we haven’t seen before,” Spavento said.

‘NOW BURNING’

WHERE: Border Patrol, 142 High St., Suite 309
WHEN: Opening 5 to 8 p.m. Friday
INFO: border-patrol.net or on Twitter @borderpatrolmaine

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