Pictured comps, top to bottom, Townes George, Andy Rosen, and Russel Whitten.
Artist Jessica Townes George, who works out of a studio in the Riverdam Millyard in Biddeford, is the winner of a privately-funded $10,000 art commission to be installed on the exterior of 265 Main Street, the former Potter’s Furniture building that is now under renovation by Thread, a redevelopment company owned by David Flood and Caleb Johnson.
“Daughters of Local Farmers and Immigrant Mill Girls: Re-enacting the Local Mill Girl’s Soul” is the title of the piece which will involve five large portraits mounted on aluminum panels. George’s concept pulls from the history of Biddeford and celebrates the worker, specifically young women, who came to Biddeford to work in the mills prior to the influx of Franco-American immigrants. The artist will recruit models from specific ethnic backgrounds from the Biddeford area to be photographed wearing costumes from the early 1900’s collected by George. The artist is specifically casting young women between the ages of 13-25, of Franco, Albanian, Greek, Turkish, Lebanese, Iranian, Irish, or Scottish heritage. Each selected model will be photographed on location at the Riverdam Millyard, and be compensated $100 for their participation in the project. Casting will be completed by January 6. To audition, please contact the artist, Jessica Townes George, 401 269 9186, Jessicatgeorge@gmail.com to set up an appointment.
The call for submissions was handled by Engine’s executive director, Tammy Ackerman, who said, “Jessica did a great job of really digging into the history of Biddeford, visiting the library to do research. There were fourteen submissions by Maine artists–reviewed by jurors from Engine, Thread, the Maine Arts Commission, and Maine College of Art–ranging from murals to more avant-garde sculptural installations. Building owner David Flood says, “We were hoping for a piece of art that would both get a ‘Wow!’ reaction at the same time it respected Biddeford and its history. We think Jessica has come up with a perfect idea to satisfy both of these goals.”
Two alternate selections, a WPA-style mural of mill workers by Russel Whitten and a conceptual sculpture called “Loom” by Andy Rosen, were chosen. Conceptual sketches for all three concepts can be seen at www.FeedTheEngine.org.
The goal of the installation is to create attention to the building as place for creativity. 265 Main will house Caleb Johnson Architects as well as Engine’s exhibition hall, in addition to four artist studios and four open-floor plan loft apartments.