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my cousin vinny

Posted by Maria Castellano-Usery on December 13th, 2017

Everyone knows the basic story: Vincent Van Gogh, arguably the most important painter ever to have lived, died broke and alone and unappreciated. He committed suicide in 1890; exactly 100 years later, his painting, “Portrait of Dr. Gachet,” sold for $82.5 million (which translates into roughly $150 million today). Van Gogh’s work has influenced and inspired countless artists, and reproductions of his paintings are everywhere- books, cards, t-shirts, coasters, you name it. To say that he had no idea what kind of impact his work would have on the world is a bit of an understatement.


Like millions of other fans, I’ve often thought, “If only he could know! If only he could see this!” Never have I felt that longing as keenly as I did while watching Loving Vincent. Loving Vincent is a gorgeous, moving tribute to Van Gogh’s work and life, and it might be the most visually stunning film I have ever seen. Van Gogh’s story is told through his paintings, and they have been brought to life here in a way that will make you catch your breath. A team of over 100 artists hand-painted each and every frame of Loving Vincent (how fun must that have been?) and the results are extraordinary.




I have my fingers crossed that Loving Vincent will eventually make its way to one of the theaters here in Brunswick, but if you don’t want to wait, this is a film worth traveling to see on a big screen. If you’re looking for an even more immersive experience, Curtis Memorial Library can help! Check out The Complete Letters of Vincent Van Gogh or one of the many other relevant titles available in the Art & Architecture section upstairs.

nature nurture

Posted by Maria Castellano-Usery on November 29th, 2017

I’ve been fortunate enough to assist my dear friend, Heather Goulette of Monarch Massage and Wellness, with two different Mindful Nature Walk and Mandala-Making workshops at the Cathance River Education Alliance in Topsham. The first workshop was for kids, the second one was for adults, and both were enriching and rewarding for all who participated. The woods are filled with natural art supplies, and you don’t have to be Andy Goldsworthy to create a temporary piece that you can feel good about! Mandala making is a great way to experience meditation in motion, and incorporating common, natural elements such as sticks, acorns, rocks, leaves, and pine cones allows us to appreciate the beauty that often gets overlooked. Take a peek at some of the photos from these events…and keep in mind that most of the participants had never made a mandala before!


kids' mandala       23905446_10213990775059939_870449704188794099_n 

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The average person doesn’t spend enough time in nature these days, and it is so important for our well-being to take time for quiet contemplation in the woods. We’re fortunate to live in a beautiful area with plenty of great hiking trails just waiting to be explored…why not take advantage of it? If you need some additional inspiration, Curtis Memorial Library can help! Here are some items that will surely encourage you to get outside and go within:

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams

Mandala: Luminous Symbols For Healing by Judith Cornell

Rivers And Tides: Andy Goldsworthy

yay-side bayside

Posted by Maria Castellano-Usery on November 15th, 2017


I was driving down an unfamiliar street in Portland recently, on my way from one obligation to the next, when I found myself surrounded by two rather powerful pieces of public art. I had to stop the car so I could take a closer look.

The East Bayside Community Mosaic Mural is huge, colorful, and absolutely gorgeous. The more I looked at it, the more I fell in love with it. Positive messages and universal symbols swirl around together, creating a dynamic and unifying piece that people of all backgrounds and walks of life can identify with and relate to. The East Bayside Community Mosaic Mural was the brainchild of USM Artist-In-Residence Muhsana Ali, who had a vision to “unite the human family” by allowing residents and community members to “come together and create,” and therefore feel more connected to one another and their neighborhood. Take a look at these photos!

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Just across the street is a building with a fence unlike any I have ever seen: it features text excerpts by Portland area students, courtesy of The Telling Room.

gate 1         gate 2

gate 3         gate 4

gate 5         gate 6

gate 7          gate 8

gate 9

What a wonderful surprise it was to stumble on these beautiful creations! Do you have any favorite public art pieces? If so, where are they located, and what makes them so special to you? Please let me know in the comments…I might like to pay them a visit!