PORTLAND – Paul Regan of Scarborough promised himself that he wouldn’t buy anything at this year’s Black Frame Art Sale, held in the Merrill Auditorium rehearsal hall Friday night.

Actually, it was more “couldn’t” than “wouldn’t.”

“I don’t have any more room,” he said. “I ran out of walls.”

Regan has been going to the art show for three or four years, lining up outside to make sure he’s one of the first into the room, then buying a piece or two.

This year, he didn’t plan to buy anything, but he was there to show his daughter, Courtney Stewart, who lives in Winchester, Mass., the ropes.

Inside, the artists’ work was waiting: 150 pieces by 34 artists, all 10 inches by 10 inches, in identical black frames.

And all carried the same price tag — $200.

The Black Frame Art Sale has been going on for eight years, organized by the Bayside Neighborhood Association. The association splits the proceeds with the artists and uses its share of the money to fund children’s arts events in the neighborhood. Last year, the sale raised about $6,000, said Lisa Castonia, co-chair of the event.

Castonia’s store, The Grapheteria, provides the framing at cost.

Regan said he likes the art, the set prices and, well, the frames.

“The prices are right and it’s simple,” he said. “It’s ready to go on the wall.”

Artists like it, too. Jim Kelly, who works in multimedia, primarily photography and paint, said the show exposes his work to a new audience.

Even if nothing sells, there’s an upside, Kelly said.

“It’s a great thing for the artist — I’ve got five pieces framed,” he said. “I can give them as gifts.”

Among those who waited outside was Judith Long, who’s on the committee for 10×10 Brunswick, a similar show that will be held Sept. 30. The show’s pieces, like those at Black Frame Art, are all 10 inches by 10 inches, in identical frames and priced at $200.

But Long said the sponsor of that show, Arts are Elementary — which sponsors arts events in schools — most definitely did not steal the idea from the Bayside Neighborhood Association.

“We asked if we could use it and they were very gracious,” she said.

Long said she attended Black Frame Art about four years ago, but has been too busy to attend more recently. She stopped by Friday to gauge how the event is doing.

Judging by the quick sales Friday, quite well. The first few pieces were off the walls within a few minutes of the doors’ opening.

Among the early buyers was Stewart, who quickly found three paintings by Claudia Hughes to her liking. Before she had even paid for them, another piece, by Aria Tuki, was added to her haul for the night.

And Regan couldn’t resist, tucking another painting under his arm. He still kept his word, in a way, because it won’t go on one of his already crowded walls. Instead, the painting will be set aside until Christmas, he said, then will be a gift for his daughter.

“Since my dad just bought me another, I’m leaving here with five,” said a pleased Stewart.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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