LISBON — A new nonprofit is pressing forward with its mission to support Lisbon artists despite stalled discussions for a storefront.

Starting earlier this year with grant funding from the Maine Downtown Center, the Lisbon Artist Collective is working to develop new opportunities for community members to engage with art, while continuing to work toward opening a storefront for local artists to sell their creations.

Lisbon Artist Collective board and committee members pose Thursday in Olive Pit Brewing at 16 Main St. in Lisbon Falls. From left, Seth Cater, Steve Bradford, Kat Webber, Kelsie Vosburgh, Christy Cain, Ross Cunningham and Eric Pomorski. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

The collective’s definition of art is broad. Members include painters, photographers, mixed media artists, those who work with wood or metal, authors and more.

Before joining the collective, interim President Kelsie Vosburgh said she never thought of herself as an artist, nor her crochet and embroidery work as art.

“Now it’s like I wear this badge of honor,” she said.

Cosette Fazio was leading the budding collective forward for months as president. She stepped down from the role last week for personal reasons.


Back in 2020, the Maine Downtown Center awarded Lisbon, Skowhegan and Monson $60,000 grants to jump-start entrepreneurial ecosystem programs.

Senior Program Director for the Maine Downtown Center Anne Ball said Lisbon was particularly attractive for the program due to its close proximity to major urban centers like Portland, Lewiston and Brunswick.

“This entrepreneur ecosystem really dovetails nicely with thinking about downtown revitalization,” she said. “We want our downtown to be vibrant places for entrepreneurs.”

Lisbon Artist Collective interim President Kelsie Vosburgh chats Thursday with board member Kat Webber while hanging up works of art in Olive Pit Brewing at 16 Main St. in Lisbon Falls. The art collective plans to host events at the brewery while it searches for a permanent location. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Both Skowhegan and Manson used their grants to create entrepreneurial centers and coworking spaces, she said. Lisbon, too, considered creating a coworking space, however that idea fell through.

Director of Economic and Community Development Ross Cunningham said he always wanted to see an artisan shop in Lisbon. When he gathered a few local artists to pitch the idea of a collective, they “jumped all over it,” he said.

Cunningham envisioned setting the collective up in the former Getty station on Route 196 in Lisbon Falls from the start. However, talks with CrossAmerica Partners, the site manager, have stalled.


“While they have been excited about the project, the bottom line is repairing the building is expensive,” he said, potentially too expensive for the nonprofit to afford.

The former Getty station would be ideal and the collective hasn’t given up on it, Cunningham said. However, they are investigating other possibilities.

Lisbon Artist Collective board member Christy Cain stands Thursday next to photographs in Olive Pit Brewing at 16 Main St. in Lisbon Falls. Cain owns the brewery that is housing events for the collective while they search for a physical location. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

A physical location would not only provide local artists with a place to display and sell their work, the collective also plans to host events and workshops in the space. It’s a place that has local artists especially excited.

Chris Davis, author of “Worthy: The Memoir of an Ex-Mormon Lesbian,” said she’s thrilled that “Lisbon seems to be waking up to the arts.”

Katachi Clark said she believes the collective will give many people the chance to express themselves. She’s looking forward to displaying her paintings for people to enjoy.

Steve Bradford, a native of Lisbon Falls, has been selling his assemblage art for close to 30 years online and in galleries. He’s excited to be a part of the growing collective, one of many things he said has been helping to bring the downtown back to life.


“I think it’s been worth the effort, but it has been hard work for those involved,” he said.

Author Chris Davis holds up her memoir “Worthy: The Memoir of an Ex-Mormon Lesbian” on Thursday in Olive Pit Brewing at 16 Main St. in Lisbon Falls. Davis is involved with the Lisbon Artist Collective. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

As the collective continues their search for a physical location, members have started to organize events and activities in the community.

The collective is planning to hold a tie-dye event at Olive Pit Brewing on Aug. 9 at 12:30 p.m., and has a series of craft activities at the library scheduled to begin at the end of August. They are also working to set up some author events for local writers.

“I think that there was just like this infusion of excitement that allowed everybody to pivot a little bit and say, ‘you know what, we’re not going to wait on this physical building to manifest,'” Vosburgh explained. “However, it’s gonna manifest. And we’re going to realize that we can follow different avenues at the same time.”

Kat Webber and Seth Cater, board members for the Lisbon Artist Collective, on Thursday hold Cater’s wooden canoe paddle he pyrographed with an image of a lighthouse. The collective has artists that work in different mediums. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

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