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.

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.

Constitutional officers on the cheap cheapen the constitution they are supposed to defend. If they accomplished nothing else, the outgoing class proved that beyond a reasonable doubt.

Greg Howard


To resolve fiscal cliff crisis, both sides must face facts

It’s time to break the gridlock in Washington. Both parties must let go of partisan beliefs, look at the facts and take action. Here are the facts we think are relevant:

1. According to the Congressional Budget Office, recent data show that higher-income households have increased their income faster than lower-income households.

2. In the past, the percentage of income tax for the rich was far higher than it is today.

3. According to filmmaker Alex Gibney in “Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream,” which aired on television Nov. 12, the gap between the rich and poor has accelerated over the past 40 years to the point that it is unhealthy for all groups.

4. According to The Economist online, U.S. defense spending, at nearly $700 billion, is bigger than that of the next 17 countries combined.

5. According to Peace Action Maine, the Pentagon has 1.2 million contractors and 745,000 civil service employees, but has never been audited. It has lost $60 billion in waste and fraud related to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Taking these facts into account, on the revenue side, the proposal for a modest increase in the income tax percentage for the richest Americans makes sense. Closing some loopholes may be advisable, but removing the mortgage deduction will hurt homeowners, and removing charitable deductions will hurt charities.

As to cuts, we agree that Medicare costs are too high and some cuts must occur here. Although we are retired and on Medicare, we recognize that this program is not sustainable as it stands.

Finally, the military budget must be cut.

Al and Vicki Adams


In troubled world, radio listeners need more music

The Dec. 3 Portland Press Herald carried three letters critical of MPBN’s new program format (“Readers take MPBN to task“).

All forms of media are drowning us with talk show drivel 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. With its new expanded talk, news and public affairs programing, MPBN has become just another Tower of Babel.

Our country and world are in a very disturbed state, and we need the comforting therapy of music rather than more talk, talk, talk, which doesn’t resolve our problems or soothe our anxieties.

MPBN and especially its music programs are an oasis for many in this desert of our disturbed life. “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast.”

May MPBN bring back more wonderful music for our ears. Music is special – let MPBN be special again.

Joseph Hoerth

Westport Island