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Mt. Blue Art Show opening today at ECAC

ECAC Technical Director Stan Spilecki, left, and Assistant Technical Director Michael Diffin work the lifts in advance of the Mt. Blue Campus Art Show.

Roger Bisaillion directs students at the ECAC.

FARMINGTON - This Thursday is the opening for the Mt. Blue Campus Art Show at the Emery Community Arts Center.

Students will be in attendance, dressed nicely and prepared to explain the dozens of paintings, sketches and sculptures to their friends and relatives. Art teacher and event organizer Roger Bisaillion anticipates a larger-than-average crowd, including some MBHS alumni. This show, he promised, will be particularly great.

It's his last one.

Bisaillion is retiring at the end of the school year from the district, going on to sell his art work. He's  spent 34 years as an art teacher at the high school, which means 34 art shows. The shows originally took place at high school itself - lots of duct tape and walls, as Bisaillion put it - with custodians helping hang artwork. The school construction project and creation of the ECAC at the University of Maine at Farmington shifted the event to the campus. Overall, Bisaillion said, the change of venues has benefited the students thanks to the increased access and visibility and the galley space itself, which include high walls, lifts and UMF staff to help position student artwork. This will be the sixth art show at ECAC.

Art work going up in the ECAC.

"The college has been good to us," Bisaillion said. "They've really rolled out the red carpet."

Bisaillion oversees the placement of the pieces, ranging from palm-sized Egyptian-themed pictographs the gigantic murals that require a small forest of thumbtacks to hold steady. He compared it to a jigsaw puzzle; the goal was to be "classy, not like a yard sale."

A work by senior Maggie Hickey.

Younger students may get a piece or two displayed somewhere in the ECAC's long, slowed hallways, but for some seniors it's the second year in the "big room" - the ECAC Flex Space, located just to the left as you enter the building off Academy Street. Those 20 or so seniors have a collection of artwork and a year or two of experience under their belt and Bisaillion says that it shows in how they approach their displays and interaction with ECAC's staff.

"If you don't put on a performance, there's no product," Bisaillion said. "I like their process and all, but at some point you need to get out and show off your product."

The show forces the students to dress up and explain their work, defend their art statements. In Bisaillion's experience, the teacher said, if you treat high school students like adults they will perform.

Senior Maggie Hickey agreed, pointing out to a towering piece of art depicting a woman with flowing, silvery hair that she selected because she knew it would complement a similarly-sized picture of a wind turbine.

"I love it," Hickey said of the show. "I really like seeing it all together."

A lot of thought goes into the displays, a task rendered even more difficult by the wide range of styles evidenced by Bisaillion's students. He had students going on to be everything from art techs to morticians, Bisaillion said.

"They take a lot of pride in it," he said.

The opening runs from 5 to 7 p.m. at the ECAC on Thursday, May 17. The art will be on display until June.

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3 Responses »

  1. Congratulations on your retirement plans B. and thank you for all you did for a particular art student in1998,
    she never came home to live, but is thriving.

    Carol Mc.

  2. Hey Roger,
    You always bring out the best in your art students. As a result, many graduates go into art. Thank you for your inspiration and dedication. You will be greatly missed. Congrats to you and Sue on your retirement.
    Frank C

  3. We have been so fortunate to have a world class art teacher at MBHS. He has brought out the amazing best in his students.