Ode to Letters, a declaration of love of letterforms

Exhibition dates: July 31 – September 19, 2015
Opening Reception July 31 from 5-8pm

Ode to Letters is a declaration of love of letterforms and a showcase of the nation’s best traditional sign painters, letterpress printers, and graffiti writers. The exhibition will feature three parts, in keeping with the traditional format of the ode, first with Strophe, Sign Painting; followed by the Antistrophe, Letterpress; and lastly the Epode: Graffiti.

Ode (from Ancient Greek: ᾠδή ōidē) is a type of lyrical stanza. A classic ode is structured in three major parts: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode. It is an elaborately structured poem praising or glorifying an event or individual, describing nature intellectually as well as emotionally.

With each discipline varying so much in style and function, Ode to Letters promises to be a diverse showcase of art works centered on letterforms.

This exhibition, co-curated by studio artist Ryan Adams and sign painter Will Sears, in collaboration with Edwige Charlot, will include live demonstrations, workshops, and a public lecture. Ode to Letters hopes to engage a wider audience through social media using the hashtag #OdetoLetters. See submissions at

Ode to Letters will be exhibiting the works of some of the nation’s best traditional sign painters, letterpress printers, and graffiti writers. Given that each discipline varies so much in style and function, the exhibition will display a wide array of work all with the commonality of being centered on letterforms.

Strophe | Sign Painting: Traditional sign painters have a prominent and daily influence on everyone by creating aesthetically attractive signs that function to provide details, guidelines, directions and other pertinent information. The practice of hand painting signage dates back to the 1st century A.D. during the height of the ancient Roman Empire. But during the 18th century in England, the literacy rates amongst the general population rose and the trade of sign painting exploded, which led to an increase in the artistry and personal flair of the signs created. The 20th century introduced computers that were able to create quick and cheap graphic vinyl signage and traditional sign painters became a dying breed.  Currently, there are a handful of dedicated sign painters that are commandeering a revival of the trade through their unique, elaborate, and decorative usage of letters to create beautiful hand-painted signs.

Antistrophe | Type Design: Throughout the majority of modern times, the printing press has been the primary method of printing text in books, magazines, and newspapers. Letterpress printers assemble individual blocks of ‘type’ (wooden or metal blocks that have letters and symbols molded onto them, creating a relief of the letter or symbol), covering the type in ink and pressing them onto paper, thus transferring the letters onto the page. Each block of type is individually created and selected by the printer, which allows for the craftsmanship and artistry of the printer to be exhibited. Like traditional sign painting, the 20th century introduced new technology that provided a more mechanized and expedient way to print texts at a high volume. This eliminated the prevalence of the printing press, but there are some letterpress craftsman that have persisted throughout the years and continue to create beautiful and ornate pieces using traditional techniques and tools.

Epode | Graffiti: Graffiti is, by far, is one of the most polarizing and debated art forms in the world. Originating in Philadelphia in the 1960’s, graffiti made its way northward to New York City in the 1970’s, where it flourished and the concept of ‘style writing’ (the individualized manipulation of letter forms) and ‘getting up’ (writing your name in as many places as possible) were introduced. The greatest achievement that a graffiti writer can attain is to develop a distinctive and personalized style, in which they have a way of altering and utilizing letters that are immediately recognized as their own. This requires years of studying letter structure and manipulating the forms in a way that is unique and innovative. Traditional graffiti is often painted illegally, thus causing controversy into the mainstream culture, but its impact on advertising, fine art and the way letters are presented and perceived is undeniable.

CURATORIAL STATEMENT: Co-Curators Will Sears and Ryan Adams, with Edwige Charlot

Each and every day, we construct, process, and utilize a set of 26 Latin symbols that allow us to communicate our ideas, provide instructions, and express our innermost feelings and thoughts. These symbols, or letters, are so vital in our lives that they are one of the first things learned and ingrained into our minds. There is hardly a day that passes where we do not employ these symbols somehow. Letters are so familiar and common in our lives that their importance and presence is often overlooked; although there are is a select group of artisans whose work is completely concentrated around our alphabet. Traditional sign painters, letterpress printers, and graffiti writers have created impactful and distinctive art forms through the laborious study and manipulation of the letters that play such an important role in our lives.


Community Engagement + Interaction:

HASHTAG: #OdetoLetters

www: (not up yet)


Tumblr: , see as an example



Rachael Eastman Moon Dune (left) and Carrie Scanga Pirate Ride.

INTRICATE WORLDS will run May 1st, 2015 until May 23rd, 2015 with an opening reception Saturday May 2nd 5-7pm. Twelve artists–emerging to those with regional and national reputations–were selected by curator and artist Stephen Burt. Artists include Stephen Burt, Kimberly Convery, Fritz Drury, Rachael Eastman, Yizhak Elyashiv, Lauren Fensterstock, Sarah Gorham, Alison Hildreth, Ellie Hollinshead, Jon Langford, Mike Libby, Carrie Scanga, and Wendy Seller

Curatorial Statement:

Artworks are reliquaries of memory, time and experience. This exhibition is composed of art that I find compelling for its obsessive attention to detail and pictorial structure. In these works narrative abounds-through what is pictured and the process by which the images are made. Images make visible the thoughts, dreams, and desires of the artist and in the best of circumstances draw out in the viewer a sympathetic/empathetic response. Analogy is prevalent here and rich symbolism. If the viewer of this exhibition takes time to look carefully, the reward will be an immersion into other worlds, that just may surprise and intrigue with possibility and depth. –Stephen Burt

ENGINE is located in the heart of Biddeford, Maine, is a non-profit arts organization. Engine’s mission is to make arts-driven programming, cultural development, and sustainable creative entrepreneurialism an explicit community value and civic priority in Biddeford. In addition to supporting artists through exhibitions, Engine provides arts and design education opportunities and coordinates initiatives in the community such as the Biddeford + Saco ArtWalk and a public art program.


MON 4/6 : 5:30-6:45pm : Feet and Legs
TUES 4/7 : Noon-1pm : Hips
WEDS 4/8: 7-8 :15am : Core
THURS 4/9 : 9-10:15am : Spine
FRI 4/10 : 5-6:15pm : Shoulders
SAT 4/11 : 9-10:30am : Strong Flow
SUN 4/12: 9-10:30am : Restorative


Camp will be held at Engine in our gallery space
@ 265 Main in Biddeford
CALL (207) 838.5124
email for questions
and to register. Drop ins welcome.

Join Certified yoga teacher Marit Wilson to:

PLAY in an array of yoga poses to open up all the nooks and crannies!
PAUSE in your daily hustle to find clarity and spaciousness of mind.
DEEPEN your internal awareness and sense of cohesion in the body.

Classes will be approachable and safe for all levels. No experience necessary. Join us!


The Biddeford Public Art Committee (BPAC), a subcommittee of Engine, is pleased to announce a Request for Proposals on behalf of Thread, LLC. The building includes Elements: Books Beer Coffee and Engine on the main level; Caleb Johnson Architects + Builders, A Healthy Life, Biddeford Bead Lab, and A Therapeutic Massage on the 2nd floor, and four apartments on the third floor. The building is a hub of dynamic, creative energy.

Proposals are due March 20.



Requests for Proposals are sought for 265 Main Street Artwork commissioned by Thread, LLC, for a privately-owned property at the corner of Main and Jefferson Streets in downtown Biddeford. This Request for Proposals is being coordinated, at the request of Thread, LLC, by the Biddeford Public Art Committee (BPAC).

Project Description
The 265 Main Street Artwork is a commission of new work illustrating a general theme of healthiness and/or healthy living. The artwork can be conceptual or representational, but should be evocative and compelling either way. The artwork should be colorful, positive, and engaging.

Below is a photo of the side of the building that will be home to an artwork mural/installation. The black square does not have to remain nor does the art need to be confined to just that space.



Call for Art: The Rumpus Revival

Engine is calling for work for the annual Rumpus, entitled Revival, an egalitarian art show. Anyone can participate, professional artist or not, young or old. The Rumpus Revival will open from 5-8pm on March 27 at Engine, 265 Main Street across from McArthur Library.

Engine executive director Tammy Ackerman says, “As a community arts organization, we want to host a show that includes everyone that wants to be included. We want to see what kind of talent is out there has and it’s a fun, unintimidating way for people who make art either as a hobby or professionally to get involved. It’s a great way for the community to meet each other, too.”

People can enter up to two pieces of work, 2- or 3-dimensional. Freestanding pieces must have a pedestal provided. All work that will hang on the wall must have mounting hardware attached. Work can be dropped off between March 17 and 21 during regular hours at Engine, 265 Main Street. The show will run from March 27 through April 11, 2015.

Pickup: By April 15.

ARTIST / GALLERY CONSIGNMENT FORM: Each artist must fill out this agreement and deliver with your work. Download PDF form here. Be sure to enter your information on our Artwork Intake Web form.

We do reserve the right to decline work that does not meet our standards of ethics of subject matter or that isn’t properly constructed/mounted to be hung.

For more information on the Rumpus Revival, contact: Engine executive director Tammy Ackerman at either or 207-370-9130.

Hours: Tuesday – Friday 1pm-6pm and Saturday 11am-4pm


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