Two hundred Mainers stepped off a ferry and back in time at Space Gallery’s Blind Tiger Party on Sept. 23.

Back in the days of Prohibition, “blind tiger” was slang for an illegal saloon, which was the feel of the soiree at the Casino on Little Diamond Island, accessible via Casco Bay Lines.

“It’s a beautiful turnout,” gushed Genevieve Johnson, surrounded by guests wearing fringe and feathers, fedoras and vests. Including sponsorships, the offshore party managed to raise more than $25,000 for Space.

“Space is a critical component in our city,” said board member Emily Bruce of Portland. “It starts conversations that are important to be having about art, artists and ideas.”

Event sponsors included Paul and Dodo Stevens of Little Diamond, just a few of the Space supporters who have a place on the island, where the community building known as the Casino happens to have been built by Paul Stevens’ ancestor, John Calvin Stevens, in 1912. During the party, the upstairs of the Casino lived up to its name, with Space supports indulging in blackjack and roulette to support the nonprofit visual and performing arts venue.

“Space brings in artists that we wouldn’t otherwise see,” said Space member Erica Schair-Cardona. “And they collaborate with nonprofits to host talks about race, gender, police brutality, incarceration, hunger, abortion. They’re doing what isn’t done anywhere else. We’re lucky to have them.”

“Space is curating events that are important artistically or politically,” said Janan Alexandra of Portland. “Space Gallery has their finger on the pulse of what’s happening.”

“Space knows what’s up,” agreed painter Maia Snow of Portland.

After partygoers returned to mainland Portland on the ferry dressed like Prohibition-era gamblers, they turned a few heads along Commercial Street.

“It’s great to keep Portland weird,” said Alisan Kavookjian.

“Space is so Portland,” added her husband, Kevin.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

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