The City of Portland joined forces with Creative Portland to beautify the recently installed street closure barricades on several streets downtown. Creative Portland hired five local artists to add creative and friendly arts messaging on the barricades, which not only brightens the safety features, but helps further the City’s COVID-19 public health messaging.
The five artists were chosen by a review committee of representatives from Creative Portland and City staff. Their work will be on display throughout the summer and fall. The artists include Angela Adams, Pam Chevez, Ebenezer Akakpo, Tamara Jones, and Nora Tryon.
“I want to thank our staff from several departments -- Planning, Economic Development, and Public Works -- for working together to coordinate the efforts of implementing these street closures in order to assist our small business community during this trying time,” said City Manager Jon Jennings. “We are in this together, and I want to thank the artists in our community for making our downtown streets brighter with their creative and vibrant designs.”
“We’re all in this together,” agreed Portland-based artist Angela Adams, an international leader in contemporary design, and one of the artists whose work is featured on the barricades
Mindful of CDC regulations and state mandates, City staff are working hard to provide welcoming and safe outdoor environments for shopping and dining.
“We appreciate the opportunity to keep artists relevant during the pandemic by hiring locals to contribute their artistic designs, taste, style and flavor to the Old Port and Commercial Street closures,” says Dinah Minot, Executive Director of Creative Portland. “It’s enjoyable for the artists to be part of the reopening process. Their art represents diverse styles of Portland talent. The selected work is inviting and friendly, revealing the heart and soul of Portland while attracting visitors to walk around to see all the different designs.”
The collaboration between the City and Creative Portland is made possible by a previous “Keep Maine Healthy” grant awarded last summer with funds allocated for safety compliance through creative messaging.
Creative Portland Board President Kate Anker said, "We're laser-focused on lifting artists' spirits and providing resources during this challenging time. We're excited to create artistic opportunity with the City through this hopeful and fun project. We're really announcing as a community that we're still here, and we still love Portland."
In addition to Angela Adams, Latinx illustrator and artist Pam Chevez designed a playful ode to summer months along the Portland seashore, with a mural design of seaweed, sand pails, french fries, tacos, lobsters, and buoys. Chevez, who is an instructor at MECA in animation and Game Art and wants to be a Maine Outdoors Guide, marries her vibrant Mexican cultural heritage with classic Maine sensibility in her artwork.
Local jewelry designer and MECA alum Ebenezer Akakpo uses his native Ghana’s adinkra symbols in a patterned design to express “endurance”. His artwork uses traditional symbols “meant to remind us to remain open to every experience life brings us – they each have significance in who we become.”
Tamara Jones, a local painter and graphic designer who primarily works en plein air, responded to an early Creative Portland Open Call to create an art banner to reinforce safety compliance during the pandemic. After submitting a piece designed for a mural, she adapted a similar design for this project to reflect a free-spirited uplifting dream of seagulls flying peacefully at sunset.
Nora Tryon, artist & co-editor of the Maine Arts Journal and member of the Union of Maine Visual Artists and the activist arts groups LumenARRT! and the Artists Rapid Response Team! (AART), created a collage-inspired design of Atlantic Cod “fish-dancing” in socially-distanced pods.