BIDDEFORD – How many cans of food does it take to build a miniature replica of West Quoddy Head Light?
A team from the Oak Point Associates architectural firm put the estimate at about 2,000 units.
The team, including Kim Roseberry, Jonah DeWaters, Nick DeFries, Kirsten Moorhead and Andie Boorman, stacked white cans of potatoes and red cans of olives in alternating rows to create the red and white stripes in imitation of the iconic lighthouse in Lubec.
They were one of five teams competing Saturday in Maine’s first Canstruction competition. Canstruction is an international nonprofit organization with similar events taking place around the globe, bringing together architects, contractors, designers and engineers to create elaborate sculptures with canned goods.
The sculptures are displayed for a period of time and then the cans are distributed to local food pantries. Cans from Biddeford’s competition will be donated to Friends of Community Action’s food pantry, which has been struggling to stay open because of a decrease in donations during a down economy.
When members of the Oak Point Associates team agreed to participate in the competition, they wanted to make something representative of Maine, but DeWaters said a lobster was too hard.
“But a lighthouse is part of the architectural heritage of Maine,” said teammate Moorhead.
Saturday’s event was organized by local arts nonprofit organization Engine with help from the Maine chapter of the American Institute of Architects. It seemed like the perfect combination of art, community involvement and social responsibility to bring to Biddeford, said Tammy Ackerman, the organization’s executive director.
“This project pairs art and design with social consciousness and is exactly the type of event we like to promote alongside more traditional art and design events in Biddeford,” she said.
Each team had its own approach to the competition.
While the Oak Point Associates team sketched out its design, contemplated how to stack the cans and estimated how many cans it would need, another team in an empty storefront on Alfred Street had a different approach.
Wright-Pierce and Richardson & Associates, the two companies working on the city’s RiverWalk project, joined forces on team RiverWalk. Members wore handmade T-shirts as they worked from a crude sketch to replicate the RiverWalk project in the window front.
“We called it a canscape,” said team member Emma Kelly. “It’s just such a cool opportunity … to think of a creative strategy to bring activity downtown and build something for the town.”
A team from Harriman was also working in the Alfred Street storefront. Teams from Caleb Johnson Architects and Port City Architecture were at a third location on upper Main Street.
The sculptures will remain on display through Friday’s art walk and awards will be announced during a reception starting at 5:30 that evening at 265 Main St.
The organization is soliciting votes from the public: Email your favorite to Ackerman at email@example.com or text message 229-3560. The People’s Choice will be announced at the reception. Admission to the reception is at least one can of food.
Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: