By Carol McCracken (Post # 813)
“Our goal is to support our members and sell their work,” said Sadie Bliss, yesterday afternoon at the Maine Mall in South Portland. She’s the director of the Center for Maine Crafts. Because of a retail collaboration with other arts and crafts groups and the Maine Mall, the Center opened several months ago and will be open through September 5th to offer Maine juried crafts and products to summer shoppers.
A print maker herself, Bliss, 32, earned a Master’s Degree in Arts Administration from Boston University. For 2 1/2 years, she managed the annual Craft Boston , a contemporary show put on by the Society of Arts & Crafts in Boston. Bliss ran an art gallery in Provincetown, MA. and founded a gallery and studio in Portland, OR. where she lived for a while. As a biker, she misses the bike-friendly opportunities there. “It was amazing living there,” she said of Portland. Her undergraduate degree came from Pacific University where she majored in art and journalism. Bliss served as a deckhand in Alaska on a small cruise ship on several occasions and lived in South America for 7 months studying art and volunteering and “partying” she said. “I feel lucky to have had these experiences. Many of my friends have had similar life experiences,” said Bliss.
Over 200 Maine craft artists and small businesses are represented at the Center at the Maine Mall. Some of them are located in a centrally located group of kiosks and others in the nearby – Center for Maine Craft store. These hand-made and high quality products offers Maine’s best in glass, jewelry, leather, metal mixed media, paper, stone, wood, ceramics, etc. Lacey Goodrich, who has a ceramics studio on the Hill is displayed there as are Mike Libby and Ben Coombs among others.
The Center’s permanent, year-round location is in the West Gardiner Service Plaza located immediately off l-295 and Maine Turnpike 95 on Route 126. It has proven to be a successful outlet for Maine artists. The Center is hoping that this venture at the Maine Mall, with a high rate of traffic, will work as well for the Center. It hopes that the Maine Mall will become another success story for crafts people of Maine.
Bliss and her husband, Loc, purchased a home on the Hill last fall. She says her “five-year plan” for the future is to simply live in the moment and enjoy playing with her five month old son, Marvin.
The Center will be open through September 5, 2011 – open Monday – Saturday 10 am – 9 pm and Sunday 11 am – 6 pm. Please visit www.mainecrafts.org for more information.