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Posted: April 27, 2015

Pop-up art at the Masonic Temple, “Piercing the Pickle” and other things to see during May’s First Friday Art Walk

Written by: Staff Reports

The first time Sarah Bouchard walked around the Portland Masonic temple on Congress Street, she knew she had walked into a special place.

“It was almost as though by thoughts were elevated by the presence of the spaces,” Bouchard said. “The height of the ceilings, the dimensions of the building, all of which were created by the Masons when they built it. These are symbolic, sacred spaces.”

Inspired by the space and interested in what artists might do with it, Bouchard has taken on the role of the temple’s artistic director. She will plan monthly pop-up exhibitions for Portland’s First Friday Art Walk. The first, from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, features the work of Jessica Lauren Lipton, who will turn the space into the “Modern Intimacy: A Miscommunication Carnival,” an installation that will celebrate our inability to communicate. Bouchard, who has been an artist in residence at the temple since 2010, wants other artists to feel what she felt when she toured the building — and to share that with the public through monthly pop-up exhibitions.

Her appointment as artistic director continues efforts of the Masonic organization to create programming that utilizes the building’s architectural spaces.

Here are some other First Friday highlights:

“Bee Cell Studies,” on view at Jen Burrall Designs, 253 Congress St., features paintings by Alexandra Strawbridge Maurer that depict the geometric nature of beehives. Colorful and abstract, this artwork gives an inside look into both the structure and chaos within the hive.

“Piercing the Pickle,” Bearded Lady’s Jewel Box, 644 Congress St., includes a collection of condiment utensils handcrafted by local artists Cat Bates, Lauri Bubier, Colleen Callahan, Nick Downing, Holly L. Gooch, Steven Lubecki, Naomi Grace McNeill, Emily Percival-Snyder, Kate Soule, Ann Thompson and Maria Wolff. This exhibit promises to be quirky and quaint, artfully displaying work that can be used to spread relish over a burger or skewer that one last pickle out of the jar.

“A Celebration of Free Speech and Free Music,” One Longfellow Square, 181 State St. If you love Julius Caesar or performing on the fly, this event is for you. Put on by Portland Stage’s Bare Bard Company, “Caesar’s Teasers” are short portions of their rendition of the Shakespeare classic. Full, site-specific renditions will be performed in each of Portland’s city squares throughout the summer. From 6:30 to 7:30, Casco Bay High School will perform original writing and offer the stage to onlookers.

– With contributions from Caroline Dyhrberg

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