What better way to celebrate a successful season of outdoor programming than with a lawn party?

Space board member Lesley MacVane of Falmouth hosted dozens of the Portland-based arts nonprofit’s supporters in her yard Sept. 12 for an afternoon of socializing and lawn games. Deejay David Michael Perez created an artsy vibe, and Rachel Alexandrou of Foraged Feast served outdoorsy hors d’oeuvres: oysters with sea lorage mignonette, wild dolmas, blistered milkweed pods, acorn shortbread and chokeberry pit cake on “plates” made of maple leaves.

“This is very Space-y,” said Executive Director Kelsey Johnson. “Isn’t it cool to eat stuff straight from the Maine woods and waters? And to collaborate with Maine artists?”

Attendees included sculptor Bianca Beck, fashion designer Jackiellen Bonney, metalsmith Aminata Conteh, performance artist Sara Juli, painter Andrew Scripter, installation artist John Sundling, documentary photographer Joel Tsui and fabric sculptor Baxter Koziol, among other creative Mainers.

“I wanted to do something to get people together in a safe space and thank donors and gather grantees,” MacVane said.

Since 2018, Space has paid more than $200,000 a year to artists as stipends and project grants. In 2020, Space distributed a record-breaking $228,000 to Maine artists.


“I got one of their emergency relief grants when COVID first happened,” said Harlan Crichton, a photographer and videographer from Westbrook. “I was in grad school, and it helped me to continue to buy film and pay for processing.”

Board member Chris Stiegler of Portland said, “The organization regrants a lot of money to artists, not just in Portland but throughout Maine through the Kindling Fund. And, during the pandemic, we had the opportunity to give out more money from emergency grants.”

Grant-making aside, there aren’t many other galleries in Maine that also host concerts and films and rent out artist studios.

“It’s an eclectic mix that’s always putting artists first,” said film writer Desi Van Til of Portland. “Space is part of what makes Portland the sort of city I want to live in and is central to our vibrant arts community.”

Over the summer, Space hosted concerts at Congress Square Park and Fort Sumner Park in Portland and at Greenwood Garden on Peaks Island, as well as a classical music event under a full moon at Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg.

For the fall, indoor programming has resumed at Space on Congress Street with masks and vaccination required. Coming up, there’s the Spanish indie film “El Planeta” on Wednesday, the premiere of Syrian-born rapper Assasi of Biddeford on Saturday, indie songwriters Caroline Rose and Joanna Sternberg on Oct. 20; and Iranian pop group Habibi with Dead Gowns on Oct. 22.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at amyparadysz@gmail.com.

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