December 20, 2012

Letters to the Editor: Event exposes community to 'living art'

Re: "Portland's art walk veering off course?" (Dec. 14): As an artist myself, you often sit down with a concept in mind, but as you begin to build toward that concept, it often evolves in ways you never imagined. That is the beauty and magic of art. It takes on a life of its own.

click image to enlarge

A crowd watches Rafael Alvarez, a Maine College of Art student, dance outside the Portland school during this month’s First Friday Art Walk. People who focus on how many artworks are sold during the art walk miss the point of the event, a reader says.

2012 File photo/Gabe Souza

Living art is no different, and the art walk is a perfect example of that. These gallery owners are putting a monetary value on an experience that I, and many other Portland residents, find to be one of the most endearing qualities of this little city.

The Portland art walk has become a collective event where people of all kinds share experiences in arts of all mediums. Arts that reach far beyond the canvas into song and dance and food and libations.

I hope the art walk proceeds to grow, but that it is somehow able to continue to embody all that it is. If these gallery owners can't recognize the beauty behind that, and the complex and indirect financial ramifications that result because of that, then they should question the trade that they have chosen to pursue, because if they don't know that, then they can't know art.

I know better than anyone that artists need to survive off some means, and that any art medium is a tough one to be successful in, but art is not meant to be behind a glass case for only the pompous and wealthy to enjoy. It is meant to be a shared experience that connects us in ways words alone can't.

First Friday, the art walk, is one of the things that makes this city special, and anybody who cherishes art and community should choose to celebrate it rather than worry about how many paintings it ends up selling.

Johnny Gagnon Jr.


Outgoing officials make case for tying pay to level of skill

I read with great interest the front-page story on the salaries for Maine's constitutional officers ("Maine Democrats opt against higher salaries for political employees," Dec. 12).

The issue at hand was apparently whether or not to appropriate and expend an additional $50,000 to these individuals, who are entrusted with very significant duties, and the supposed conundrum that it caused the new Democratic majority in Augusta.

There should have been no conundrum. The issues were crystal clear. The previous holders of these offices were certainly worth the reduced level of compensation they received.

We had a state treasurer who clearly violated the state constitution he was sworn to uphold by engaging in business activities despite the constitutional prohibition against the treasurer doing so.

We had an attorney general who was either unwilling or unable to understand the plain language of the Maine Constitution and engaged in the most ridiculous example of judicial gymnastics to somehow reach a conclusion that the printed words don't mean what any student at Woolwich Central School knows they mean.

And we had a secretary of state who seems like a nice enough person, unless you are a non-Republican voter, in which case his base assumption is that you are a case of voter fraud waiting to happen.

Incoming Attorney General Janet Mills and Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap have track records of accomplishment that warranted the additional money. They've distinguished themselves as public servants who fight for Maine's people without fighting just for the sake of the fight.

The money would have been a small price to pay for effective leadership they have provided in the past and will again. Competence, civility and commitment matter.

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