Society Notebook: All Ages Art Exhibit Returns to Engine

After a two-year pandemic hiatus, Engine’s non-juried art exhibit, “Rumpus,” is back, featuring 150 pieces by artists of all ages and skill levels.

“It’s part of our manifesto at Engine, that art should unite, never alienate, and that we recognize there’s an artist in all of us,” said Chrystina Gaustelum, chair of the board of directors. ‘Engine, at the show’s opening reception on April 1. “For me, art is an activity, not a product.”

“You see a whole variety, from child labor to professional artists,” said Sarah Gentile, a painter from Saco. “It’s great to see it all come together because everyone starts somewhere.”

A newly formed arts collective called Hydra has taken over the organization of the show from Engine, hosted the opening reception at the Biddeford site and is planning a closing reception for May 13.

“Everyone deserves the experience of seeing their art on a gallery wall and feeling that pride,” said Monica Davis, painter and member of Hydra Art Collective. “We are trying to reinvigorate the arts community in Biddeford.”

His mother, Christina Davis, was among the contributing artists. “I think that’s how every show should be, with all the different processes and artists together,” Christina Davis said. “When you look at children’s art, you can almost feel the child thinking. It’s hassle-free.

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“I love seeing all the pencil drawings of the kids alongside super funky acrylic painting and hyper-realism,” said Milo Hogan, a mixed media artist from Biddeford.

Engine has been a center for creative expression in Biddeford since 2010. ‘Rumpus’ first took place in 2013.

“The kids who have seen all the art since they were little are now the artists of the area,” said Hydra Art Collective member Michael Evans, who paints, makes toys and designs puppets. “The other members of the collective are half my age.”

At 42, he exaggerates only slightly. There’s Davis, 26; painter Ben Nelson, 24; and painter and illustrator Elizabeth Felt, 24.

“We brought in people from all walks of life and people who heard about it through the grapevine,” said Felt, who grew up in Biddeford with Engine part of his life.

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A handful of downtown Biddeford businesses – including Banded Brewing, Rover Bagel and Nibblesford Cheese Shop – provided refreshments for the opening reception. Even the local UPS store has found a way to support the effort, offering a discount on shipping for artwork sold during the show.

Gallery hours are 1:30-4:30 p.m. Thursday, 4-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon-4 p.m. Sunday. The closing reception will take place on May 13 from 5 to 9 p.m. Follow Hydra Collective on Instagram for information on pop-up artist talks and related events.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]


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