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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: June 3, 2015

Art Walk takes over Congress Street! Plus 4 exhibits to see on Friday

Written by: Bob Keyes

Get ready for the biggest First Friday ever.

Creative Portland, which organizes the monthly First Friday Art Walk, is expecting massive crowds for Friday’s event. Congress Street will be closed from 6 to 9 p.m., and Creative Portland is encouraging everyone – artists, participants, observers – to flood the streets.

Last June was the first time Creative Portland closed Congress Street for the art walk, and police estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people participated. Jess Lauren, program assistant for Creative Portland, hopes for bigger and better.

“We are hoping this will be the first really beautiful day of the year. We are encouraging people to bring their normal First Friday art stuff, but we want to make this one more street fairish, but with a focus on the art community.”

Congress Street will be closed from State Street to Monument Square. High Street, which crosses Congress Street at the museum, will remain open. Parking will not be allowed on Congress Street after 4 p.m.

Metro bus service will continue on Cumberland Avenue during the three hours that Congress Street is closed, Lauren said.

Creative Portland hopes to close Congress Street twice a year for the art walk. The next closure will be in December.

Portland’s First Friday Art Walk offers a lot of interesting art – visual, performing and experimental – around the city on Friday night. Here’s just a sampling of your options.

An image from Ann Tracy’s “Motel Variations,” on view at Dock Fore.

An image from Ann Tracy’s “Motel Variations,” on view at Dock Fore.


5 to 7 p.m. Dock Fore, 336 Fore St.
Native Mainer Ann Tracy, whose art has been featured internationally, returns to Portland with a motel-themed digital collage that was created in a motel. “Motel Variations,” which combines photographs of old motels with pop art-style images of neon lights and vintage French clip art, is the product of Tracy’s work at the NadaDada festival in Reno, Nevada, where the motto is “Get a room, make a show.” Check out the exhibition at the artist’s reception Friday.


5 to 9 p.m. SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St.
Alina Gallo brings the spirit of the Syrian struggle to Portland with her mural installation “We Are Staying.” Her work depicts an urban scene in a graphic art style, using a composite of images and symbolic elements from several Syrian cities, including the particularly striking graffiti that juxtaposes revolutionary and pro-government slogans.


4 to 9 p.m. The Blazin’ Ace, 432 Fore St.
The first Friday of June marks not only the art walk but also National Donut Day, at least according to Blazin’ Ace smoke shop. DonutFest 2, following up on last year’s success, will feature local glassblower Brian Owoc of KGB Glass with a variety of solo art and collaborations, all revolving around the theme of glass doughnuts. Doughnut-inspired paintings also will be featured. Don’t miss the after-party from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Bayside Bowl for drinks, live music and a buffet.


6 and 8 p.m. performances, Cathedral Church of St. Luke, 143 State St.
Join Portland Youth Dance Company for a smorgasbord of original dances ranging from hip-hop to ballet in a magnificent cathedral setting. Collective Motion and Debi Irons of the Cottage Street Creative Exchange also will perform.


Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress St., hosts traditional arts demonstration with basketmakers, woodcarvers and snowshoe makers. Participants include Molly Neptune Parker, a Passamaquoddy basketmaker; Tom Cote, an Acadian woodcarver; and Brian Theriault, an Acadian snowshoe maker.

Maine Jewish Museum, 267 Congress St., continues “Men in Suits: Paintings by Natasha Mayers.” She explores issues of peace and social justice.

First First Friday Art Walk

5-8 p.m. Friday throughout Portland. Free.
For a complete list of this month’s exhibits and participating venues:

– Exhibits compiled by Lily Jordan, a Cape Elizabeth high school senior.

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