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Free art show features humor and history

Some works by local artists at the "In Your Face" art show at Boyd Place
Some works by local artists at the "In Your Face" art show at Boyd Place
photography by Robin Wood

When you visit the art show in Boyd Place at Phillips-Strickland House in Bangor -- and you must not miss it -- be sure to give yourself some time to browse.  If you haven't yet seen this unique display of creative cartoons, characters and caricatures, let this be the nudge you need to seize an entertaining opportunity.

Boyd Place is part of the Phillips-Strickland retirement community at 21 Boyd Street in Bangor, Maine.  When Boyd Place was founded in the year 2000 a group of volunteers formed an art committee which is still very active today.  The current four members continue the tradition of maintaining year round art work on the walls of the facility, with three distinct shows exhibited each year.  Jane Burger, who gave me a wonderful guided tour of the current show, told me how Sarah Clark came up with the idea. 

"Here were all these beautiful walls with nothing on them.  It seemed like a wonderful place to display artwork."  So they went to work seeing how they could make that happen.

Three times a year the walls on two floors are covered with both original art and art prints, generally works by local artists. It is great for the residents, who look forward to every new show, and great exposure for the artists themselves, whose displayed work is occasionally for sale in conjunction with the exhibitions.

In the past, Jane explained, the shows have mostly been paintings, children's art, and quilt shows.  The current show is a departure from the norm. 

Producing the event - "In Your Face - Caricatures, Cartoons, and Characters" - was both very exciting and a lot of extra work for the art committee.  Some of the prints on display were not available as direct donations.  For some exhibits, the art committee had to obtain permissions to reproduce the artwork, scan copies of cartoons, then do the framing themselves before hanging them on the walls of Boyd Place.  The results are wonderful.

Among the local artists are both school-aged art students and nationally known professionals, spanning about 50 years of political and social commentary in cartoon form. Some of the characters on the wall are simply beautiful and entertaining to look at, others offer a provocative historical context over a span of decades.  You will recognize the works of many of the show's artists:

Vic Runtz was a political cartoonist for the Bangor Daily News from 1958 until 1983.  George Danby's work appears in the BDN today, giving our home town the unusual distinction of having a small paper with its own editorial cartoonist.  If you read Bangor Metro you are familiar with the Earl Hornswaggle comic, drawn by Mark Ricketts, another contributor to the show.  "Tastes Like Chicken" is a comic strip by Josh Alves, who has several pieces on display as well.

LeeAnne Mallonee, another art committee volunteer, produced a wonderful guidebook for the show.  You can read about the artists and their work and take a self-guided tour with one of the guidebooks, available on site. 

As Jane showed me around, a Boyd Place resident passed by.  Clearly the members of the art committee are a familiar sight in the hallways, and well appreciated; "It looks like a full time job decorating this place," he said to Jane with a laugh.  "They should increase your pay!"

The "In Your Face" exhibit will continue through September 30th.  It is open to the public during business hours, Monday through Saturday from 9 to 5.  Don't miss it!


If you enjoyed this article, you might like to browse Bangor's everyday people examiner page to see more writing by Robin Wood. For future alerts when Robin publishes a new article, click on the subscribe button at the top of this page (it's free!). Thanks for visiting.

I am always glad to hear from anyone in mid-Maine with ideas ofr this column. Send in your suggestions, and I'll share the stories of the many-sided people and places of Maine.
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