A Walk Worth Taking

February’s First Friday Art Walk started on the quiet second floor of the Center for Innovative Learning on the University of Maine at Presque Isle campus. Everyone viewed featured artist Owen Smith’s art and talked in hushed voices. Despite the quiet, the room had excitement buzzing throughout the air. There were pieces on display that one wouldn’t expect to see on the Reed Art Gallery walls. One consisted of a large collection of different scissors entitled “A Morphological Study of Potential Terrorist Acts.” Another was a collection of different variations of “Starry Night” by Van Gough that Smith bought from many different artists online.

Owen Smith teaches at the University of Maine at Orono and studied art history in college. His parents were artists, so creating art is a family tradition. Smith doesn’t use traditional art materials like pencil on paper or paint on canvas. He starts with an idea and then uses any materials needed to create it. He started out doing a lot of environmental art, but now enjoys “using technology as primary tool.”

Not only is Smith a visual artist, he’s also a musical composer. John Cage is an experimental composer who influences Smith’s work. His music is even played in Smith’s piece “Video Event Transition No. 1-8.” His art doesn’t usually have a theme. All the art in this specific show, however, did follow a theme having to do with multiples and numbers. He described his art as “art work about art work.” He really loves engaging people’s thinking with his art. He also appreciates when people give a small chuckle at his work.

After Smith finished explaining some of his artwork and answering a few questions, the next event of the night began. A short walk led the crowd to the Pullen Art Gallery. There was a group of people at the top of the stairs surrounding two small kittens. The two small kittens were a wonderful way to begin the Art of Meow. Beyond the kittens the cat inspired art began. The art inside included many different styles. There were pieces using watercolors, there were happy felines in photographs and there was even a hat that looked like a cat. Different cat-loving artists contributed all of the pieces. One of the artists, Emma Ruff, goes to the First Friday Art Walk almost every month. Ruff enjoys the overall vibe of the Art Walks and how it brings together creative people in the community.

Ruff’s piece in the Art of Meow was a photo of her cat Pepper on her wood pile. She named it “The Lounging Cat.” She kept the photos with neutral tones because it’s what’s visually pleasing to her. Pepper is an only cat who loves lounging around. This elegant cat was named after “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” When Ruff views art she likes to “look for different art. It’s hard to say whether it’s good or bad because all art is different and good in its own way.” With her art on display in the next room she hopes to bring the viewers together by helping them connect and spark up conversation.

The final event of the evening was all about edible art. It was the Fourth Annual Edible Art Night. The Aroostook Partners in the Arts put it on at the Wintergreen Art Center. One side was full of artwork that you could vote on to win. The second side was food that people could purchase punch cards to taste. The goal for the Edible Art night was to enjoy oneself, make something out of food and raise money. The entire night was a very great experience and had a delightful turnout.

The event—as was true of the entire art walk–went from people keeping to themselves and speaking quietly on occasion to those same people laughing and bouncing from art piece to art piece with groups of newly found friends. So be sure to mark your calendar for the next First Friday Art Walk.