The photographers of the Bakery Photographic Collective have made their Westbrook debut in a show at Chicky’s Fine Diner on Bridge Street. It’s the first showing in Westbrook for the group of artists moving into the Dana Warp Mill.

About 20 pieces are hanging on the walls of Chicky’s in a show slated to run for the next month. The group considers it their first little splash in Westbrook, according to collective co-founder Scott Peterman.

“I’m very happy to have pictures up on the walls here,” said Peterman. “It’s a casual way to introduce ourselves to Westbrook.”

“It’s a nice little landing in Westbrook,” said collective member Justin Van Soest. “Here we are.”

The collective is in the process of remodeling their 4,000-square-foot space on the second floor of the Dana Warp Mill looking over Saccarappa Falls. They’ve come to Westbrook after about five years in Portland.

The collective is a group of professional photographers who pool their resources for dark room space. They have 19 members and six interns who are fine artists, photojournalists, commercial artists, and hobbyists. According to Peterman, it’s the only dark room cooperative of its kind north of New York, attracting renters from Boston and as far north as Camden.

According to Peterman, the collective members are happy to be making the move to Westbrook, especially into the new space, which is large with plenty of windows and “really bright and ambient light.” Peterman said they’re hoping to have the space done by July 1, and things are going pretty well so far. He said the only real snag has been “finding a plumber we can afford.”

Van Soest said the group plans to have a gallery in their mill space so they can have shows of their own. In addition to that, however, the group will continue to show at Chicky’s. Van Soest said they plan to have a long-term relationship with the diner, which regularly holds shows by photographers.

Chicky’s owner Chicky Stoltz said this show was the first time they’ve had a multiple-artist show, and it’s a special show because he and co-owner Blake Smithson personally know a lot of the photographers in the collective. He said having art shows on the diner’s walls is something they’ve always done and enjoyed because, for one thing, it gives the place a new look every month.

“It’s a place for people to hang (their work), and it gets people in the door,” he said. “It’s a win-win.”

Diane Holcomb attended the show opening with her husband, Marc Swan, coming out from Portland for the show. She said they’d definitely be back for other shows in Westbrook by the collective.

“We’re kind of disappointed they’re moving out of Portland,” she said. “But we can see why.”

Van Soest said he believes they left one “hip” place in Portland but have come to one “that’s just as hip if not hipper.”

“If you look around, you can see the next 10 years here, and we’re happy to be an integral part of that,” he said.

Arthur Fink, a photographer who is not in the collective but attended the show, said he is also disappointed that Portland isn’t keeping its artists.

“It saddens me that Portland hasn’t made it more possible for artists and artistic groups to stay (in Portland),” he said. “Portland talks the talk” but doesn’t help out, he said, noting that he doesn’t blame the collective for leaving.

The group’s big splash will come in December when they hold their annual auction, “Photo-A-GoGo,” which features works by over two hundred photographers. Van Soest said they would try to hold the show in the mill space or somewhere else in Westbrook if they don’t have enough room for it.

“We’re definitely having it in Westbrook,” he said.

Photographers debut in WestbrookThe photographers of the Bakery Photographic Collective introduce themselves to Westbrook with a show on the walls of Chicky’s Fine Diner from April 20 to May 20.Justin Van Soest looks out over the Presumpscot River from a window at the Bakery Photographic Collective’s new space on the second floor of the Dana Warp Mill.


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