For ECAC’s new director, art can be a window

5 mins read
Ann Bartges is the Emery Community Arts Center’s new director.

FARMINGTON – University of Maine at Farmington’s Emery Community Art Center is welcoming a new director this semester, with plenty of events lined up for the coming month.

Ann Bartges is the ECAC’s newest director, taking over for Jayne Decker at the beginning of the year. Decker, who has helped organize and operate the multi-purpose art gallery and performance space since its construction in 2011, generated great energy and momentum for the ECAC, according to Bartges. When provided with the opportunity to become the new director, Bartges said, she was excited to accept.

“It’s a good way to connect with a larger community,” Bartges said of the ECAC. “There’s a lot of artistic energy in Farmington.”

Bartges has been teaching with the Visual Arts Department at UMF since 2014. After getting her undergraduate degree at Alfred University, Bartges went on to earn a Masters in Fine Art from the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan in 2014. Along the way, she participated in exhibitions ranging from Denmark to Australia, working as a resident artist at institutes in Berlin, Paris, Denmark, Chicago and Vermont. While she has a background in ceramics, her more recent work has been video- and photo-based installations.

Speaking outside of “Rough Drafts,” a collection of faculty pieces on display at the ECAC, Bartges said that her new challenge was to take the energy Decker had garnered and use it to bring new voices to the space. She said that she wanted to further connect with the local community and its artists, as well as bring in work from other communities, such as Portland’s vibrant art scene.

“This is really a special space,” Bartges said of the ECAC, noting that it could support anything from a traditional art gallery to New Media presentations to performances.

One tradition she does intend to continue is hosting the annual Mt. Blue High School art show – a particular challenge due to not only Decker’s absence, but also the retirements of MBHS art teachers Roger Bisaillon and Deborah Farley. Bartges said that she had already reached out to the high school’s art program to let them know that the ECAC intended to continue the practice.

The faculty art show – the aforementioned Rough Drafts – is shown every three or four years at UMF. It is hosted at both ECAC and the UMF Art Gallery, directed by Assistant Professor Sarah Maline. The gallery is hosting the other elements of Rough Drafts: video, projections, drawings and prints. An orange line crosses the campus, connecting the two spaces.

Jesse Potts’ Patch(work) Quilt in the foreground, as visitors gather around Barbara Sullivan’s Nasty Maine Women Artists.

ECAC provides space for Rough Drafts’ larger pieces: an arching ladder bent backwards, for example, or Patch(work) Quilt, an impressive collection of roofing materials, tar paper and carpeting created by Jesse Potts. “I can’t believe we got a house in here,” Bartges told one viewer.

A future opening, and another example of Bartges’ desire to connect the ECAC with new communities, is “7500 Miles; An Internal Turn.” Curated by Parisa Ghadeki and Mahsa Soroudi, the exhibit will feature the works of a number of Iranian artists and will seek to look beyond some of the themes that commonly appear in Iranian collections. Bartges hopes the show provides a connection between Farmington viewers and  something they may not have experienced before.

“The idea of art as a window is one I’m really interested in,” Bartges said. The 7500 Miles exhibit will open this fall.

Rough Drafts will run until March 9. The hours of operation at ECAC are 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The UMF Art Gallery is open from Tuesday through Sunday, 12 p.m. until 4 p.m.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.