PORTLAND — Creativity ran rampant Thursday night in Portland.

Members of Maine’s creative community gathered at Holiday Inn by the Bay for the inaugural Maine Creative Industries Gala, sponsored by the Maine Center for Creativity. The stars of the show were actress Glenn Close and her husband, the innovator David Shaw.

The couple received the first-ever Maine Creative Industries Award, which recognizes excellence in art, innovation and enterprise.

In addition to the star couple, the event drew leaders of the state’s business and arts communities, and featured a funky mix of music, home movies that made the guests of honor blush, and displays of the state’s creative spirit.

“We used to call it Yankee ingenuity. In the 21st century, we call it the creative economy,” said Katherine Greenleaf, the Maine Center for Creativity’s board president.

Shaw founded Idexx Laboratories in 1983 and served as CEO until 2002. Today, Idexx is Maine’s largest publicly traded company. Close is a six-time Oscar nominee who has won Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony awards.

They own a house in Scarborough.

“There can be a tendency to think of art and business as separate realms, but that is often not the case in successful ventures,” they said in a prepared statement. “For example, high-tech entrepreneurs often combine a sense of artistry in their business work. … While we commonly recognize the art of painting or sculpture, it’s just as important to also recognize the art of leadership and collaboration, the art of problem-solving, the art of customer satisfaction, the arts of communication and team-building. Business, law, public service and other sectors offer similar opportunities as art and music for discovery, adventure and curiosity in creating value for society.”

Frank Moss, former director of the MIT Media Lab, delivered the evening’s keynote address. A longtime friend of the couple, Moss urged people in the room to take chances, encourage risk and think differently. Risk leads to innovation, and innovation will propel the United States forward as a world leader, he said.

“If we enable everyone to be creative to the maximum, then I think as a nation we can change our identity, and that’s the direction we have to go,” he said.

Moss suggested to parents they should tell their kids that it’s OK to fail. By allowing failure, we remove a safety net, which in turn will translate into new ideas and different approaches to problem-solving.

“We need to return to a world where we’re willing to let our kids take risk, willing to let them fail,” he said.

Among other things, the Maine Center for Creativity is the organization behind the Art All Around oil-tank painting project at the Sprague Energy farm in South Portland along Portland Harbor. South American artist Jaime Gili is painting eight tanks and eight tank tops. So far, he has completed five. A team of painters will begin painting the sixth tank next week, said Jean Maginnis, the center’s executive director.

“As we raise the money, we paint the tanks,” she said. “We’ve raised $950,000 so far and we have $350,000 to go to complete the tanks. Hopefully next year we’ll get seven and eight done, and then we’ll start the tops.”

 

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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