After a two-year pandemic pause, Engine’s non-juried art show, “Rumpus,” is back, featuring 150 pieces by artists of all ages and skill levels.

“That’s part of our manifesto at Engine, that art should unite, never alienate, and for us to recognize there is an artist within each of us,” said Engine board president Chrystina Gaustelum at the show’s April 1 opening reception. “To me, art is an activity, not a product.”

“You see a whole variety, from children’s work to professional artists,” said Sarah Gentile, a painter from Saco. “It’s great to see all of it together, because everyone starts somewhere.”

A newly formed art collective called Hydra took over organizing the show from Engine, hosted the opening reception at the Biddeford venue and is planning a closing reception for May 13.

“Everyone deserves the experience of seeing their art on a gallery wall and to feel that pride,” said Monica Davis, a painter and Hydra Art Collective member. “We’re trying to reinvigorate the art community in Biddeford.”

Her mother, Christina Davis, was among the contributing artists. “I think this is how every show should be, with all different processes and artists together,” Christina Davis said. “When you look at the children’s art, you can almost feel the kid thinking. It’s unencumbered.”

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“I love it, seeing all children’s crayon drawings next to a super-funky acrylic painting and hyper-realism,” said Milo Hogan, a mixed-media artist from Biddeford.

Engine has been a center of creative expression in Biddeford since 2010. “Rumpus” was first held in 2013.

“The kids who have seen all the art since they were little are now the area’s artists,” said Michael Evans, a Hydra Art Collective member who paints, makes toys and designs puppets. “The other members of the collective are half my age.”

At 42, he is only slightly exaggerating. There’s Davis, 26; painter Ben Nelson, 24; and painter and illustrator Elizabeth Felt, 24.

“We brought in people from all our backgrounds and people who heard about it through the grapevine,” said Felt, who grew up in Biddeford with Engine a part of her life.

A handful of downtown Biddeford businesses – including Banded Brewing, Rover Bagel and Nibblesford Cheese Shop – contributed refreshments for the opening reception. Even the local UPS Store found a way to support the effort, offering a discount on shipping for artwork sold during the show.

Gallery hours are 1:30-4:30 p.m. Thursday, 4-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. The closing reception is 5-9 p.m. May 13. Follow Hydra Collective on Instagram for information on pop-up artist talks and related events.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]


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