Britta Konau lost her job when the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport faced its financial meltdown last fall.

But the curator has stayed active in the arts, and these days can be found popping in and out of galleries and museums across Maine. Always gifted with words, Konau is writing an arts blog aptly titled “Art & Other Important Things in Life.” Find it at:

She usually posts once a week, sometimes more often. Last week, she wrote about a show at Williams College in Massachusetts. The week before, she posted a short item about Emily Schiffer’s wonderful photography show at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland.

“The blog came out of my desire to still remain part of the art community in Maine,” Konau said by phone last week. (Appropriately, she was with a friend at the Farnsworth when I called.)

“I wanted to find an outlet and think about what can I actually contribute. One of the things was writing and picking out what I thought was interesting and worth paying attention to,” she said.

Konau, who lives in Rockland, remains a player in the curatorial field as well.

Maine College of Art hired her on a contract basis to help with its upcoming art auction, set for Nov. 6 in Portland. Konau developed a list of artists she thought should be part of the auction, and then worked with the artists and MECA to choose the most appropriate pieces. She is also working with Waterfall Arts on its upcoming arts and crafts show and sale.

She’s pleased that she has found ways to remain plugged in.

“I have always felt so amazingly welcome in the Maine art community. I want to stay and continue to be a part of it,” she said.

THE GRAND IN ELLSWORTH is in the final stages of a project to refurbish its 40-foot Art Deco tower. Built in 1938, the theater tower was constructed with pigmented red and black glass known as Vitrolite. Builders favored it in external facades in the ’30s and ’40s.

It’s nearly impossible to find these days. The Grand, a multi-use theater, went all the way to St. Louis to find replacement glass.

“They had black Vitrolite, but the red we could not find,” said Zoe Scott, the Grand’s executive director.

The Grand moved the best of its salvageable original red glass to the entryway, where most people pass through. In less visible spots, replacement glass is back-tinted with the same shade of red.

Technicians from Portland Glass trained with the St. Louis company to learn proper installation techniques. “We wanted to get local people in here. That way, if something happens, we don’t have to fly someone in from St. Louis to fix it,” Scott said.

The venue worked with WBRC architects in Bangor, and consulted with Maine Historic Preservation and the National Register of Historic Landmarks on the project. All aspects of the preservation efforts meet established guidelines, Scott said.

The Grand will celebrate the completion of the project with a party for major donors at

6:30 p.m. Nov. 12. At 8 p.m., the theater will screen “Some Like It Hot,” the classic 1959 Billy Wilder movie starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe.

The budget for the tower project is about $110,000. Money came from the city of Ellsworth, the King Foundation, Maine Community Foundation and private donors.

The tower is the first of two projects that will refurbish the Grand. The second phase, which will commence in 2011 and carry a price tag of about $90,000, involves rehabbing the marquee. “Now that the tower is done, the marquee looks shabbier than ever, so we’ll be moving forward with that next year,” Scott said.

IF YOU HAVEN’T YET, you really should take the time to see “Maine Modern: 50 Years of Modern Architecture in Maine,” on view through Oct. 31 at 443 Congress St., Portland.

The exhibition makes no attempt at being comprehensive, but the 20 projects on view offer a taste of contemporary architecture in Maine. The work ranges from I.M. Pei’s wing at the Portland Museum of Art to the artfully designed campus at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle. And as one friend noted, there also are several “envy-inducing” private homes.

All of the projects are represented with drawings, photos and models.

Notable is South Portland’s Congregation Bet Ha’am by the Canadian firm Shim-Sutcliffe. While the three-level presentation might sound technical, even architectural novices can find footing in the familiar public projects. The result is an entertaining and illuminating show for experts and amateurs alike.

“Maine Modern” is on view noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday.


FOUR WORDS I NEVER thought I’d say: Follow me on Twitter. I plan to tweet about Maine art several times daily, and would like to build a respectable following. If you follow me, I’ll make it worth your while with newsy updates about the Maine art scene. You can find me at

You also can find me on Facebook. Send me a friend request, and I’ll do my best to post daily links and updates about the life of an arts writer in Maine.

I’ve always said that I have the best job in Maine, and I hope to convey both my enthusiasm and my delight on Twitter and Facebook. 

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 79106457 or at: [email protected]