Julie Bernier of South Portland says Art in the Park helped her develop as an artist. Contributed / Julie Bernier

South Portland’s 43rd annual Art in the Park will be held Saturday, a show that artists say they have come to rely on for inspiration, community and support.

“I did my first Art in the Park show in 2013 and it was pivotal in my development as an artist,” said Julie Bernier of South Portland. “That show was so inspiring to me as a self-taught artist showing my paintings for the first time.”

Russ Lamer of South Portland began painting when he retired about 10 years ago.

“I decided I was going to do Art in the Park with another artist friend of mine and jumped into it that way,” he told The Forecaster. “It was a lot of fun. I met a lot of people. For me, my biggest enjoyment is being able to discuss my art with people who come to the booth and want to know about it.”

A linocut, “Cliffhouse Beach,” by Art in the Park participant David Connor of Cape Elizabeth. Contributed / David Connor

David Connor of Cape Elizabeth is a high school art teacher in Portland. He sells his linocuts as a “side hustle,” he said, and has been successful at Art in the Park.

“I’ve supported some of my fellow artists and I know some of my fellow artists have supported me,” he said. “It’s just a great community event.”


Bernier, Lamer and Connor will be among more than 170 artists  participating in Saturday’s show at Mill Creek Park. Part of the popularity among artists is because of the event’s reputation, Bernier said, but it’s also due to the affordable entry fee.

“The show fee for us to put up our tent and show our art is incredibly reasonable,” she said. “That’s important. When I look at shows across the state or even beyond, that’s one of the key things for me … Art in the Park, I adore it. It’s my favorite show.”

Affordability for local artists is what Art in the Park has always been about.

“It was started by the Parks and Recreation Department to provide access to the arts for a large number of people and at price points for all,” Art in the Park Committee member Michele Howard said in an email to The Forecaster.

The show takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Food trucks, live entertainment and a Kids in the Park art activity area are among other attractions throughout the day.

“This year we are excited to partner with the Portland Museum of Art, which will have crafts for kids,” Howard said. “They are also giving away a one-year membership to the museum. This will be the first time they have been involved and we hope to keep that connection moving forward.”


Supporting local artists, especially the youngest artists, is crucial, Bernier said.

“This is the way that South Portland celebrates art and artists from school age all the way to professional,” Bernier said. “It’s astounding to me. I think it’s super important that this show involves families and children so that the school-age kids who are showing their art are walking around seeing that art could potentially be a career for them that they could pursue.”

The fact that so many artists participate annually shows how much community members have to share, Lamer said.

Russ Lamer last participated in Art in the Park in 2019 and looks forward to returning this year. Contributed / Russ Lamer

“Most of my paintings are based on stories, and artists are able to express themselves,” he said, noting social issues and comedy factor into his own pieces. “We’ve got to have music in our lives, we’ve got to have art in our lives, we have to have writers in our lives. It’s extremely, extremely important to me, especially on the local scene.”

Connor urges community members to attend, whether that’s to make a purchase or simply discuss and admire their neighbors’ work.

“Come over and say hello, whether you buy anything or not.”

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