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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!


Stitch by stitch

Posted by Maria Castellano-Usery on November 1st, 2017

Well, the power may be out, but there is a powerful exhibit right in the front lobby of Curtis Memorial Library (see what I did there?). It’s a quilt memorializing victims of U.S. drone attacks, and it is a deftly-handled way of addressing a painful subject that most people would rather not think about. It is upsetting to learn that human rights laws are being completely disregarded by leaders on both sides of the aisle, and I’m impressed by the way the women behind the Drones Quilt Project have chosen to get their message across.







This quilt packs quite an unexpected punch if you stand in front of it for a few moments. From a distance, it is warm, colorful, and inviting; up close, it is a startling visual obituary for ordinary people of all ages. The names may not be familiar, but their roles in their respective families are: mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, child, friend. I applaud Curtis Memorial Library for displaying such a thought-provoking work of art in a high-traffic area, I grieve for the loss of life, and I hope for peace in our world.






raise a glass

Posted by Maria Castellano-Usery on October 18th, 2017

October 14th and 15th was Maine Craft Weekend, so Terry and I decided to take a drive out to Dresden to check out the goings-on at Tandem Glass! I’ve always been fascinated by the alchemy of the glass-making process, and I was happy to catch a demonstration during our visit. It was mesmerizing to watch Charlie and Terrill hard at work, moving bundles of glass rods from the 1,000 degree “garage” to the 2,000 degree furnace, shaping them with tools,  stretching them with gravity, and finally allowing the pieces to cool and break for future use as decorative bits in their absolutely gorgeous pitchers, tumblers, and bowls. Take a peek:


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To add to the festivities of Maine Craft Weekend, Tandem Glass was also displaying beautiful jewelry from Circle Stone Designs and fun, funky pillows by Christine DeTroy. Great stuff!


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If you weren’t able to make it to Maine Craft Weekend, you can still visit Tandem Glass, since the gallery is open year-round. The studio runs seasonally (you might have guessed that they close it in the summer, what with the 2,000 degree furnace and all), but we happen to be approaching the time of year when having a 2,000 degree furnace cranking along is a very good thing, so why not plan a trip?


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