Anything but Common

Common Street Arts’ New Space

Just as the Colby Museum celebrates the re-launch of The Lantern, another Waterville cultural institution is celebrating a new space! Common Street Arts recently moved into a beautiful home in downtown Waterville. Take a look inside with Nate Towne, Marketing Manager of Waterville Creates! as he shares some details about the location and the organization’s goals ahead. 

Young visitors interacting with Ygor Marotta and Ceci Soloaga (VJ Suave)'s Digital Folklore (2015, 22:00) as part of MIFFONEDGE in July.
Young visitors interacting with Ygor Marotta and Ceci Soloaga (VJ Suave)’s Digital Folklore (2015, 22:00) shown in MIFFONEDGE this past July.

If you’ve taken a stroll down Waterville’s Main Street recently, you might have noticed the windows look quite different at The Center at 93 Main Street, adjacent to Castonguay Square. Where once there was an event hall, there is now a vibrantly burgeoning community art gallery and studio, the new home of Common Street Arts, the collaborative programmatic arm of Waterville Creates! Twice the size of its previous space across the square at 16 Common Street, Common Street Arts at The Center will provide Waterville Creates! with the opportunity to grow and diversify its offerings, including more workshops, exhibitions, and programs.

Before looking to the future, however, it’s helpful to understand the past. Common Street Arts was created in 2012, with support from the Maine Arts Commission’s Creative Communities Economic Development Grant received by Waterville Main Street. The goal was to establish a nonprofit collaborative arts organization that would offer both a gallery and studio teaching space. Four years later, Common Street Arts continues to increase its impact with this lively, energetic environment, which serves the greater Waterville community and beyond.

Thanks to generous and diverse support from Waterville Creates!, the Colby Museum of Art, the Maine Film Center, the Waterville Opera House, Colby’s Center for the Arts and Humanities, the Waterville Public Library, and a diverse array of community members, Common Street Arts provides robust opportunities for professional and emerging artists. In addition to the main gallery space with its freshly painted walls and refinished floors, the space includes an annex where additional exhibitions and workshops will be held and a storefront window that will feature quarterly installations from a variety of Maine artists.

The teaching studio, with its grand windows looking out onto downtown Waterville, has become a place where students of all ages and experience levels are learning skills, expressing their creativity, and perfecting their talents. Featuring a variety of programs, including a monthly “Paint with Us!” workshop (with plans in the works for “Clay with Us!” soon) and “Open Drawing + Painting Wednesdays,”  the studio is reflective of the revitalization happening in Waterville today.

Reception at the new Common Street Arts for the exhibit A Place to Grow: From Agriculture to Visual Culture A History of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture

Following an inaugural exhibition of works from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Common Street Arts is preparing to open the exhibition mud. works in clay by maine artists on October 1st in conjunction with the opening of the new ceramics studio. Future exhibitions planned include a Holiday Pop-Up Shop in November and December, a water-focused exhibition in early 2017, and the extremely popular YAM (Youth Art Month) exhibition in March. A list of upcoming exhibitions can be found on the Common Street Arts website.

In addition to the ceramics studio and expanded programming, Common Street Arts has recently announced a new president and CEO: Shannon Haines, currently executive director of the Maine Film Center. As president and CEO, Shannon will lead the organization as it continues to evolve as a center for the arts and to build a brighter future for greater Waterville. Shannon replaces Patricia King, interim executive director of Waterville Creates! and associate director of the Colby College Museum of Art, who was appointed in July to help guide the organization during its leadership search.

If you have not yet visited the new Common Street Arts, go now! The gallery is free and open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, and class offerings are being added every month. CSA also has volunteer opportunities, providing participants with rewards that include free passes to the Waterville Opera House and Railroad Square Cinema. We are always on the lookout for teaching artists to lead workshops, after-school activities, and classes. Whatever your strengths or interests, we would love to hear from you!

Come experience Common Street Arts at The Center—where community and creativity meet!