Friday, April 23, 2010

New Craft Gallery in Rockland

Here is proof that something really good can come of unfortunate decisions made by others. Barbara Michelena was a board member at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) from 2000 until the end of 2009. During that time she also developed the highly regarded annual Work of the Hand Crafts Show and Sale as well as CMCA's gallery shop, both of which she is no longer involved in. Now Barbara will do her own thing: on May 28 her gallery of high quality craft will open in the carriage house of the Caldbeck Gallery on Elm Street in Rockland. Simply called “CRAFT” the enterpise has a more sophisticated, descriptive tag line: “A curated collection of fine contemporary craft.” When i expressed my concern about the use of the word “to curate” Michelena explained, “it means that I personally selected the works in the gallery during studio visits with the artists, keeping in mind how their work would complement each others'.” Some of the artists she has selected so far include Susan Atwater, Morris David Dorenfeld, Jan Muddle, George Pearlman, Daphne Taylor, and Simon van der Ven. Many of them are familiars from the Work of the Hand shows and all have a connection to Maine. In opening this commercial gallery for high end craft Michelena wants to do her part in treasuring hand-made beautiful objects in a world dominated by mass production. Cynthia Hyde, co-owner of the Caldbeck Gallery, says she is thrilled to have Barbara as their new neighbor, allowing her and partner Jim Kinnealey to focus their time and energy on the main gallery spaces.

Michelena graduated from Pratt Institute in 1952 and went on to work as an interior and graphics designer for large architectural and design companies in New York and Los Angeles, where she subsequently opened her own office until moving to Maine in 1991. She welcomes craft artists to contact her at The gallery will be open until November 1, Thursdays through Mondays with Tuesday and Wednesday open by appointment. Personally, i think this is a long overdue expansion of Rockland's art offerings and i congratulate Barbara on her vision and élan.

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