With new downtown facility, Waterville poised to become arts destination

The newly opened Paul J. Schupf Artwork Centre in downtown Waterville is element of a broader energy by Colby Higher education to get the job done with municipal officers and neighborhood groups like Waterville Creates to aid break down an invisible barrier concerning the university and local community. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

WATERVILLE – Colby School President David Greene could hardly comprise his pleasure.

A 7 days ahead of the official opening of the Paul J. Schupf Artwork Middle in downtown Waterville, Greene toured the $18 million, 32,000-sq.-foot facility with the giddiness of a boy or girl at a concept park.

He stopped at the new Joan Dignam Schmaltz Gallery of Artwork, an extension of the Colby Higher education Museum of Art, and imagined a rotating mix of artwork that would before long adorn the partitions.

He surveyed the freshly relocated Maine Movie Centre, which will operate three screens inside the centre for audiences of varying measurement (24, 46 and 120 seats) and will anchor the annual Maine International Movie Festival.

He walked across a new skybridge that connects the middle to the historic Waterville Opera Property, whose entrance and lobby also obtained a facelift as part of the challenge. Yet another component of the new heart, Studio 1902, will provide as rehearsal space for the opera residence, something it hasn’t had.

And he toured the floor-ground Ticonic Gallery + Studios, which includes academic areas and a 24-hour pottery workshop, and the location identified as The Hub, which will have tables for community use overlooking Castonguay Sq. and a counter café operated by Maine-dependent Bixby Chocolates.

“We needed to generate a little something that would be a serious desired destination,” Greene claimed. “Not just a series of discrete components, but all of these parts working jointly.”

David Greene, president of Colby Higher education, stands upcoming to a mural by Tessa Greene O’Brien – a Lunder Institute Residential Fellow – through a tour of the Paul J. Schupf Artwork Heart in downtown Waterville. Ben McCanna/Personnel Photographer

The Schupf Heart, which formally opened to the public Saturday, is a collaboration amongst Colby and the nonprofit firm Waterville Results in, the umbrella business for the film center, the opera dwelling and the Ticonic gallery that will operate out of the basement of the new setting up.

Put together with Colby’s Greene Block + Studios, a collaborative place that opened final 12 months and houses artist fellows, displays and performances just down Major Road, the centre hopes to renovate Waterville into a world-class arts place and create economic enhancement in the metropolis for several years to arrive.

“It’s a very interesting time. It is basically a playground of possibility,” stated Jacqueline Terrassa, director of Colby’s art museum.

The heart could by no means have occurred without the need of Colby’s expense, and Colby’s investment decision was only possible as a result of the generosity of the longtime benefactor whose name is on the developing. A wing of the Colby Faculty Museum of Art also is named in honor of Schupf, who died in 2019 at age 82. However not an alum, Schupf has been one of the college’s premier donors due to the fact initially coming to Waterville to take a look at in 1985. He was a trustee from 1991-2006.

“This is his legacy,” Greene stated. “I assume he would be smiling to see it.”

The downtown artwork middle also is a vital piece in Colby’s broader attempts to prolong its achieve beyond the campus, situated about two miles away. 4 several years in the past, Colby opened a 200-pupil dormitory referred to as Alfond Commons on Principal Avenue, about a block from the new making. Extra lately, Colby funded the $26 million Lockwood Lodge, the only hotel in Waterville’s downtown.

“I’ve listened to from persons who say, ‘Why devote dollars downtown when we have needs on campus?’” he stated, even though Colby is investing in its campus, far too. Next calendar year, the $85 million, 74,000-sq. foot Gordon Middle for Imaginative and Undertaking Arts will open up. “We want our group to be as strong and inviting to every person mainly because which is only going to assistance the school and its college students and staff.”


The two-tale brick and glass creating is exquisite and understated, meant to in shape into the architectural landscape of downtown Waterville relatively than stand out.

But a retro-searching indicator hanging off the front that merely reads “arts” would make distinct what lies inside of.

For several several years, the web page was dwelling to a department retailer and, when that remaining, Waterville Generates decided to get it. But the outdated building was far too high-priced to continue to keep up and Waterville Creates, a nonprofit, did not have the funds to pay out for something new.

That’s where Colby came in.

“We required another person who was keen to make an investment decision with no return,” explained Shannon Haines, president and CEO of Waterville Creates, which fashioned in 2014.

Shannon Haines, president and CEO of Waterville Produces, at her business in the Paul J. Schupf Art Center in downtown Waterville. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

That was the similar yr, incidentally, that Greene begun his tenure at Colby.

One particular of his goals early on was to improve the private college’s visibility in the local community. He also needed to better leverage Colby’s outsized inventive belongings.

To see it start to appear to fruition has been enjoyable.

“I assume with this centre, we’re form of declaring, ‘Art is below, and every person is welcome,’” Greene said.

The museum on campus is open up to the public, and admission is totally free, but it’s still located on a higher education campus. Terrassa explained the downtown gallery inside of the new artwork heart is seen a lot more as an extension of the museum.

“There are a amount of museums that have opened satellite galleries,” she claimed. “But what feels unique in this article, I really don’t know of one more that has opened a room that is aspect of a much larger cluster of corporations.”

In fact, the Schupf Heart is house to significantly a lot more than visible arts, but the museum’s new gallery will serve as an appetizer of types for website visitors to investigate the total museum, which is among the state’s major.

The objective is to have 3 exhibitions every year, featuring both of those choices from the museum’s wide long lasting collection and emerging and proven contemporary artists.

“It enables us to do some things that could possibly be harder to do on campus,” Terrassa claimed. “But we never want to be prescriptive. So instead of saying, ‘Downtown is heading to be this,’ we want to supply a variety of exhibitions that … delight and shock people.”

The museum already has worked with Waterville Makes, which includes on the Artwork in the Park summer season series.

As a complement to the museum gallery, the nonprofit will run its Ticonic Gallery at the other end of the art middle, showcasing community artists.

Haines said she’s fired up to be ready to focus far more on programming.

“It’s really liberating to be a tenant and not a assets manager,” she explained.


Even in advance of the Schupf Center opened, Colby’s arts existence has significantly been felt downtown.

The Greene Block + Studios opened very last year, with funding from longtime museum benefactors Peter and Paula Lunder, and residences the two community place on the ground ground and studio and office environment room for the museum’s Lunder Institute for American Artwork on the upper floors.

Peter Lunder is former president of Dexter Sneakers, launched by an additional main Maine philanthropist, Harold Alfond, and he and his wife had been prolific artwork collectors for decades. Almost all of Lunder’s collection of American and European has since been donated to the Colby School Museum of Artwork.

In just the final yr, the Greene Block has hosted traveling to artist fellows from Maine and past. One of the artists, Gamaliel Rodríguez, is centered in Puerto Rico, but claimed he’d hardly ever be capable to locate the type of studio house there that he’s been equipped to use in Waterville. His time in Maine has been fruitful, way too. He was just one of 20 artists preferred for an show on Puerto Rican artwork in the wake of Hurricane Maria that is demonstrating at the Whitney Museum in New York.

“People in New York, other artists, are inquiring me about this room now,” Rodriguez reported.

A development employee walks by way of the location acknowledged as The Hub in just the Paul J. Schupf Artwork Middle in downtown Waterville. The enhancement is element of a broader work by the higher education to work with municipal officers and community teams like Waterville Generates to assistance break down an invisible barrier between the faculty and community when it will come to the arts. Ben McCanna/Workers Photographer

As an case in point of the kind of the partnerships made achievable via modern investments downtown, another artist fellow at Greene Block – Tessa Greene O’Brien – was chosen to set up a mural at the new Schupf Artwork Centre. Her two-tale mural “Fields Alive with Pollen + Wings” attributes hand-painted Maine flora and fauna with colourful geometric designs.

“It was certainly handy that I was just down the road as a fellow,” said O’Brien, who’s from South Portland.

The Greene Block constructing also is equipped with two oversized garage-type doorways that open up to Major Road, virtually like an invitation for folks walking by to enterprise inside.

Erica Wall, director of the Lunder Institute, explained its function is to foster the partnership amongst scholarship and artwork, but she sees several possibilities for interaction with the public as well.

“I think owning the new artwork middle so shut just would make this making even a lot more vivid,” she mentioned.

In all, $200 million in public and personal cash have been put in downtown – about half by Colby University – to increase its standing as a destination with arts at the core.

There is often organic pressure involving faculties and universities and their host communities, and that differs dependent on where campuses are situated. But considering the fact that Colby started off consciously expanding its footprint into downtown Waterville, the reaction has been good.

Quite a few of the facilities in the new artwork middle are absolutely free, and Greene explained he hopes it will become a community accumulating location.

“I imagine we can enable bridge the gap and democratize artwork a little bit,” he claimed. “We want to make all people experience like this is for them.”

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