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    Nat May, 39
    Executive Director
    SPACE Gallery

    As the executive director of Space Gallery, the downtown Portland arts venue, Nat May “supports emerging artists by presenting 220 events annually to forward contemporary art, artists, and ideas from all over the country,” says his MaineToday Media Forty Under 40 award nominator, Jessica Tomlinson.

    “Nat’s innovative programming earned him recognition from the Americans for the Arts as an Emerging Leader. He was selected as a presenter at the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts last summer to share the success story of Space Gallery; how under his guidance, a small arts organization managed to double its facility, budget, and staff during a recession,” Tomlinson continues, describing May as a “humble, motivated, visionary administrator.”

    May was chosen by The National Endowment for the Arts to review grants, “based on his curatorial expertise,” she notes. As a board member, he helped re-energize the Portland Arts and Cultural Alliance. He serves on the Creative Portland board.

    Space celebrates its 10th anniversary in August. May became executive director a few months after its opening. A native of Cape Elizabeth, he majored in religious studies at Davidson College in North Carolina, then spent three years in Taiwan, teaching English, doing free-lance writing, and learning Mandarin (“somewhat”). He then spent a year “traveling overland across China, through Tibet and Nepal and India,” and returned to Portland in 1999.

    He worked at Chewonki in Wiscasset, helped found the Bakery Photo Collective, and hadn’t expected to stay in Portland. But then came the Space gig. “It’s notable how different Portland feels from when I was in high school,” May says. “There’s a lot more going on, a lot more to see. So I’ve enjoyed participating in that change.”

    A South Portland resident, May loves to garden. “It satisfies my need to be busy and productive, but it’s relaxing, too.”

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