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with roses in her eyes

Posted by Maria Castellano-Usery on February 8th, 2017

Several years ago, a friend turned me on to an indie rock band called Neutral Milk Hotel. I quickly fell in love with their album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, which sounded like nothing I had ever heard before: hauntingly, achingly beautiful music that seemed to come from the depths of a soul that might be too sensitive for this world. I played this album at least twice a day, every day for about three weeks straight. In short, I could not get enough.


Naturally, I starting reading about In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, and I found a very intriguing theory: it is said to be a concept album based on the fate of Anne Frank. Well, that was all I needed to hear…I was off to Curtis Memorial Library to check out a book I hadn’t read since I was a kid: The Diary Of A Young Girl.


It’s an interesting thing, re-reading a book from your childhood as an adult. Your perspective is completely different. You’ve changed, but the book hasn’t. In this case, though, it was a little bit of both: this was the definitive edition of The Diary Of A Young Girl, featuring entries that had previously been cut by Anne’s father, Otto, allowing for a deeper, more intimate portrait of this teenager…who, like any other teenager, fought with her mother, Edith; had conflicts with her sister, Margot; and had dreams for her future. Anne’s unflagging, positive spirit in the face of horror shines through this expanded edition with heartbreaking clarity and resonance, begging us to remember the lessons that no one should ever forget.



If you’re looking for the type of immersive experience I had with The Diary Of A Young Girl and In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, Curtis Memorial Library is here to help: just follow the links and you will find what you need. Not sure? Here’s a taste.



make a difference

Posted by Maria Castellano-Usery on January 25th, 2017

Do you care about supporting living, independent artists? Is food insecurity something you’d like to reduce? Here’s your chance to make a difference for both of those things: this weekend, I’m having my fourteenth Brushstrokes With Impact™ “Paint-a-Thon”! Thanks to the kind support of Morton Real Estate (R), on Saturday, January 28th, I will be setting up my easel at 25 Stanwood Street (right next to Believe Fitness Center) and painting from roughly 9:30am-5:30pm. At the end of the day, the completed painting will be raffled off, and 50% of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program‘s “Backpack Program”. Raffle tickets can be purchased in person or online (here’s the link: for $5 each or 3 for $10. I will also have a “pop-up” show of my art at 25 Stanwood Street and 10% of all my art sales (excluding magnets) from this show will be donated to MCHPP‘s “Backpack Program”.

Food insecurity is a growing problem in Maine (and beyond), but if we work together, we can help to make things better. Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program is a cause that Curtis Memorial Library supports (with help from library patrons as well as the “Making It In Maine” grant), and I am happy for the opportunity to do my part. I hope to see you on Saturday!

collaboration nation

Posted by Maria Castellano-Usery on January 11th, 2017

Happy New Year, everyone! Did you make resolutions to be more creative and to be more social in 2017? If so, you can kill two birds with one stone by joining Brunswick Art Collaborative! Brunswick Art Collaborative is a friendly, informal, low-key group of people of all ages (yes, it’s all women, but that’s by chance and not design- men are welcome!), and we’ve been getting together once a month for the last several years. Usually, we all bring whatever project we’re working on, but sometimes, a member of the group will lead us in a mini-workshop (such as ornament-making or paper-bead-making).


When we first started meeting, we would gather in the art room at Thornton Oaks, then we moved to the ArtVan studio in Fort Andross; now that it’s a new year, Brunswick Art Collaborative has a new location: the basement of Curtis Memorial Library! We meet on the second Tuesday of the month from 6pm to 8pm, and last night was our first one of 2017. Here are some photos!









Amanda (our fearless leader!)



Kathleen and Joanne


Curious about joining us? Please leave a comment so we can add you to our email list- or just stop by!