The last thing Andy Curran wanted to do was open an art gallery. At best, it’s a risky business proposition.

Curran had a better idea.

On Friday, Curran and 10 other artists will open the Saccarappa Art Collective, a group-managed gallery at 861 Main St. in downtown Westbrook.

Curran signed the lease and assumed most of the financial obligations, but all the artists pay a fee to belong to the cooperative, and all agreed to staff it on a rotating basis.

All are committed for at least a year, guaranteeing that the collective will remain a functioning business concern for at least a calendar year.

“I quietly went around and selected artists I thought would be a good addition,” said Curran, a Westbrook native who is bullish on his hometown. “I essentially curated a show that will last for a year by handpicking artists. We are all mid-career working artists with a history of selling. We are all working hard and perpetuating a body of work.

“We are all in the business of making art. We have all had professional representation in the past. We have all put our time in.”

Curran is best known for his Dog Star Creations greeting cards that feature his imaginative, Maine-inspired land- and skyscapes.

The other artists who will show at Saccarappa are Sherry Ballou, Mary Brooking, Jody Dube, Jeremy Greene, Caren-Marie Michel, Francine Schrock, Lucy Ellen Smith, Ellen Thayer, Frank Vallerie and Julie Vohs.

Some are Portland artists, but many live throughout York and Cumberland counties.

When selecting artists, Curran cast his net to include artists from a wide geographic area and diverse creative media.

While Saccarappa is mostly a painter’s gallery, it includes artists who work in encaustic, pastel, oils, acrylic, mixed media and watercolors.

One artist’s primary expressive medium is clay sculptures.

The collective is situated in the heart of Westbrook in a former Pilates studio. It’s next door to Fajita Grill and around the corner from The Frog and Turtle, two popular downtown restaurants.

The building has about 1,000 square feet, divided into two rooms.

Curran built a temporary wall in one area to provide additional display space.

Each artist has between 10 and 14 feet of wall space to display work.

In addition, the front room will be reserved for rotating exhibitions, which may include group shows, invitationals or themed shows.

The front-room exhibition will turn every four to six weeks.

At any given time, there should be up to 100 paintings on view.

For artists, the advantage of a co-op are many and varied, said Schrock, who lives in South Portland and shows her paintings at a variety of galleries across the region.

In addition to Saccarappa, Schrock also is showing this month at House Arts Gallery in Gray.

Because work is always on view, an artist can rotate new paintings regularly. At a traditional gallery, an artist generally shows every two years for one month. At the co-op, Schrock will show all the time.

Because she will have work on view regularly, she may feel more emboldened to experiment with her work and try new things.

“We have power in numbers,” said Schrock, who will hang work from her recent “Portland” show at Friday’s opening. “This is about a group of artists coming together.

“We are all committed to the same thing, which is making art available to people.”

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

[email protected]

Twitter: pphbkeyes


filed under: