The Portland Museum of Art’s annual Director’s Circle and Contemporaries Summer Party on Aug. 9 was a lavish affair in the David E. Shaw and Family Sculpture Park attended by 375 arts supporters.

“A sculpture garden, wonderful food and a reason to dress up – this is lovely,” said Asha Echeverria of Cumberland.

The garden on High Street – which is open to the public during museum hours – features sculptures “Hearsay” by John Bisbee, “Human Structures (24 Figures Connected)” by Jonathan Borofsky, “Moment” by Anthony Caro, “Play Sculpture” by Isamu Noguchi, “Rising Calm” by Celeste Roberge and “Spirit of the Dance” by William Zorach.

“I’ve always passed this courtyard and wanted an excuse to come in,” said Iman Richard of Portland.

Contributing to the lush garden party motif were floral arrangements by Fresh Pickins, strung chandeliers by She Luxe and other décor by A Family Affair. A seven-piece band led by Chris Oberholtzer played jazz tunes. And guests were invited to make tissue-paper flowers, many of which were worn as fascinators.

“I love that there’s hands-on art, that we can have a conversation with and be part of the museum’s Art for Everyone mission,” said Katie Rooks, of sponsor M&T Bank.


Guests ordered sushi from Mr. Tuna and enjoyed passed hors d’oeuvres from The Black Tie Company, whoopie pies by Byers & Sons Long Island Bakehouse and other treats by Eighty8 Donuts. In-kind sponsors Allagash Brewing Co., Devenish Wines and New England Distillery supplied beer, wine and the gin used in the signature cocktail, the French 75.

“I’m enjoying seeing neighbors out enjoying art in the sunshine,” said Catherine Bickford of South Portland. “The museum is a great gathering place.”

“Tonight’s a great mix of cool people of any age who love art,” said Jane Stevens of Portland.

Many guests commented on the lovely mixing of what were, until 2019, separate summer events for two levels of supporters: the Contemporaries, who donate $300 a year and tend to be younger, and Director’s Circle members, philanthropists who donate $1,500 or more per year.

Here’s why the combined garden party still felt “new”: In 2022, the party was in a parking lot on the other side of the museum due to construction on High Street. In 2021, it was indoors due to the threat of thunderstorms. And in 2020, it was on Facebook Live. Without construction, storms or a global pandemic to contend with, the 2023 PMA Summer Party in the sculpture garden was long-awaited perfection.

“This is summer delight,” said Anna Lee, a new Contemporaries member from Portland. “Just beautiful.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer from Scarborough. She can be reached at

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