The Star-Herald

Student, community artists recognized during art walk

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — University of Maine at Presque Isle art students held two popular events during the First Friday Art Walk on April 6 that showcased the variety of talent at both the university and in the community. 

The night began at the Pullen Art Gallery at UMPI with the 4th annual Student Art Competition. Thirteen students from various art courses at the university entered work in mediums such as painting, acrylics, drawing, mixed media, digital art and sculptures. The competition was open to both art students and students from other majors.

“People in the community get to see the art that we’ve worked hard on throughout the year and how much of a wide range our work covers,” said Arianna Forbes, an UMPI senior and fine art major. “Many students have never been to an art museum exhibit, so this gives them an opportunity to display their work in a way that they might not have been able to before.”

Soon after the exhibition opened at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Hyrum Benson, UMPI associate professor of art, presented awards for first, second and third place winners as well as the Merit Award and President’s Choice Award.

Art student Jami Cass was named the first-place winner for her oil canvas painting “Littleton Pit Stop”. Jackie Peers was awarded second place for her clay sculpture, “IGA Paper Bag.” Third place was presented to professional communication and journalism senior Erin Keehn for her digital art, “Wonder Woman Movie Poster Reimagined.”

UMPI art student John LaCarrubba received the Merit Award for his photograph, “Godfather,” and Forbes collected the President’s Choice Award for her feminist-themed acrylic piece “Nasty Woman.”

“The competition gives us a good platform to showcase our work,” said Bethany MacPherson, a sophomore art student, who displayed her oil painting, “Roni,” and mixed media works, “Objective and Subjective Self Portraits.”

The evening concluded with the 12×12 Art Auction of works on square-foot canvas at Cafe Sorpreso on Main Street. About 40 people enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres while taking advantage of the silent auction of artwork from 47 UMPI students and community artists that occurred before the final live auction. Many individuals placed bids before Friday night, as all work was posted on the UMPI Art Club Studio 923’s Facebook page.

Art students in the Studio 923 club brought back the 12×12 auction, which was previously held at Wintergreen Arts Center, after a two-year hiatus. The live auction kicked off with fast-paced bidding courtesy of local auctioneer Burt Winslow and raised around $3,000 to benefit art club programming such the club’s spring tour of Boston’s art scene.

“We’re always looking to promote community artists and many of them had mentioned that they missed the 12×12 auction,” said Forbes, who auctioned her encaustic, or hot wax painting, “Isolated Affection.” “We used Facebook to get the word out and had 40 individuals who were interested and then after we got canvases in for the art, even more people wanted to include artwork.”

Forbes said that the art club hopes to use a portion of the proceeds from the auction and future events to hold another 12×12 auction next year.

For a complete listing of upcoming First Friday Art Walk events go to


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