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Heather Steeves

Heather Steeves tries to do things that are fun -- and only things that are fun. So far that's included stilt walking, roller derby and cross-country road trips in her Saturn.

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Posted: July 2, 2014

3 things to see at July’s first Friday art walk: Koalas, wax paintings, works by veterans

Written by: Heather Steeves

This month Portland’s First Friday Art Walk lands on July Fourth. That means most of the big Art Walk players, like the library and the Portland Museum of Art, will be closed. Bummer. On the bright side, this gives the littler guys a shot of impressing you. Also, it means if you start in the West End and work your way up Congress Street, you can end with a fireworks show (ceremonies start at 7 p.m., concert begins at 7:40 p.m. and the fireworks will probably start around 9:20 p.m.). Just be careful where you park because the city will close several streets for the fireworks show.

1. Veteran-artists


Left: “Ben Davan Where are you?” by C. David Thomas, US Army and 1968 MECA graduate. Right: Desk by Ren Albon, US Navy and 2014 MECA graduate.

What’s more patriotic for Art Walk than an exhibit made entirely by veterans? Some of them were drafted to war, others chose to serve. This exhibit takes place after. Maine College of Art students and alumni who are also veterans will display their art at this Friday’s art walk. Some of the veteran-artists used their works to process their experiences at war, others just make art with no conflict in mind.

“In general, people tend to paint veterans with one brush. This show demonstrates that each has a unique voice and point of view,” said Serena Joyce, a MECA student. “There are however two common qualities. Each was involved in service to the United States and each is an artist. Some of the pieces are brutally honest and painful and speak directly to the military and war. Others are peaceful and offer respite.”
At the exhibit you’ll find a viewing box with landscapes inside. But also a sculpture of military cots, each with the name of someone in the military who died since 2003.
“This exhibit is a mix of a lot of different things. Some of it is related to military images, there are about three like that, but a lot of it is veterans who have come back and found art as a way of coping with life – whether it’s PTSD or injuries or veterans expressing themselves,” said Patrick Scholz, a MECA student and veteran whose work is featured in the show.
Art // Service by MECA students and alumni | At Maine College of Art, 522 Congress St. | Through July 18

2. Koalas trying to be people

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“Secret Koala Secrets” by Eric Hou

“Secret Koala Secrets” by Eric Hou is guaranteed to be funny and cute (which is not to say it’s for kids. On the contrary, some of his koalas are naughty.).
“My July show is a collection of recent personal work from the past 9 months or so, which mostly features anthropomorphic koalas and small moments which could either be completely insignificant or monumental to someone’s own personal mythology if viewed under a certain light,” Hou said. “I have been using koalas because I can draw them fairly efficiently and I feel they are easy for people to relate to.”
His blog, Koala High compiles a bunch of drawings of koalas attending high school in the 80s. The koalas are frequently smoking, drinking or otherwise hanging out in real photos of Portland and South Portland.

At Green Hand Bookshop, 661 Congress St.

3. Wax flowers, wax dancers

Mamma Always Sees the FlowersIt’s the technique that makes these ones unique: Lori Austill paints with pigmented wax. She layers the colors on each other, then fuses them with a torch. It’s called encaustic painting.

“I love the texture, depth and the brilliance of color and the range of possibilities that beeswax gives me,” Austill said.

Her works will be at Coffee By Design. They’re all on birch wood board and include paintings of dancers, flowers and abstract pieces.

“A Space to Breathe” by Lori Austill | At Coffee By Design, 620 Congress St.

As always, the art walk runs from 5-8 p.m. on Friday all throughout Portland. For more information and complete listings, visit

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