There are more than 70 shows, performances and concerts at this month’s First Friday Art Walk in Portland, which is even bigger than normal because it’s part of the annual Old Port Festival — a three-day affair this year.
There is so, so, so much happening. Folks, you can get your photo taken with Spiderman this week. You can see Richard Estes’ Realism show for free (it’s great, BTW) at the Portland Museum of Art — it’s the show that will make you say, “That can’t be a painting. It has to be a photo.” The Art Department (611 Congress St.) is having a wrestling-themed dance party and the underwear boutique Aristelle (92 Exchange St.) is showing bridal boudoir photography.
It’s going to be one heck of an Art Walk. Here are six quirky shows to check out while you roam downtown:
By Brian Owoc | The Blazin Ace, 432 Fore St. | open until 9 p.m.
This is pretty funny: Art Walk happens to land on National Doughnut Day (who comes up with these things? Public relations firms?) so the smoke shop The Blazin Ace is hosting an art show of glass doughnuts. Some are pipes, some are pendants and others are just glass doughnuts that could be paperweights. They’re all made by Portland’s Brian Owoc, who owns KGB Glass. Apparently Brian used to work at a Dunkin Donuts as a baker while he was learning to blow glass. You can see how the two hobbies melded. Brian will be at the shop to talk to customers.
By Jada Fitch | Mayo Street Arts, 10 May St. | Through June 27 | Closes at 7 p.m. on First Friday Art Walk
Jada Fitch painted picture-book-worthy watercolors of birds. Each portrait shows a different species that has a basket tied to its back, which holds the bird’s meal. The owl carries sleepy mice, the woodpecker has ants and the seagull has a sandwich and a crab in its pack. Fitch is a Portland-based artist. The work is funny and adorable.
By The Circus Conservatory of America and friends | Monument Square Friday, Lincoln Park Saturday | Shows 5 and 7 p.m. Friday; noon and 2 p.m. Saturday
Come one, come all to the free circus show! There will be juggling, small child dancers, professional aerialists and crazy stunts. The Circus Conservatory is bringing in some big guns, including The Red Trouser Show (in the video above). The 90-minute shows will start with a 30-minute performance by children, 30 minutes of aerialists and will wrap up with the Red Trouser acrobats. The circus is setting up at Monument Square on Friday night (shows at 5 and 7 p.m.) and will move a few blocks down Congress to Lincoln Park for Saturday afternoon shows at noon and 2 p.m.
By Pete Gorski | Sanctuary Tattoo, 31 Forest Ave. | Through Sept. 5
Editorial note: Pete Gorski works at the Portland Press Herald and sits two desks behind me, although he and I hadn’t talked before I learned about this show.
Pete’s work shows caricatures of imperfect people. His work focuses on social issues such as addiction and consumerism. Pete has worked for newspapers for years, drawing editorial illustrations. According to Pete, “these paintings are portraits done in reverse, with the genesis of the character being a conjured or known soul, and a physical being created from that.”
By Carlotta Valdez | Pinecone + Chickadee, 6 Free St. | She’ll draw a beard on you
Carlotta was working at a sandwich shop and her friends kept buying the bacon/egg/cheese/Sriracha/croissant sandwich, which they named “The Bearded Stranger.” Carlotta started doodling bearded men on the to-go bags for her buddies. Recently she started sketching the dudes on paper. She framed about 35 of them and is writing little stories for each man.
“It’s just a collection of drawings of guys in beards. They’re all made up, they’re quirky,” she said. “They’re mysterious bearded strangers. Then they have adorable descriptions, they used to play tennis or his mother used to make him cakes on Sundays.”
During Art Walk, Carlotta will sketch people who come to see the show. Men and women will both have bearded caricatures.
“I’ve been practicing with my friends. They’re very funny,” she said.
By Ted Arnold | Maine Jewish Museum, 267 Congress St. | Through June 22
Wedding days are all emotion and glitz — a perfect setting for a painting. Here’s what the Maine Jewish Museum said about the works: The paintings “offer the pageantry and intricacy of this rare moment in life, when private emotions are made public, friends and family become actors in a staged drama, complete with lines to speak and costumes to wear. Undercurrents, fears and hopes flow throughout the event and the marriage that follows.”
Arnold rarely, if ever, shows faces, giving the paintings and collages a disjointed feeling.