Portland Museum of Art: Exhibit A
SHOP TALK – April 2014
by Veronique McAree | Photography Amanda Kowalski
Pick up beach stone jewelry, Winslow Homer whiskers, or a design book or two at the Portland Museum of Art store, which zooms in on works by local artists. Check it out.
To wrangle all your favorite local wares in one day, you’d have to trek from Kittery to Caribou. Happily, the Portland Museum of Art (PMA) has mercy on your feet by bringing hundreds of Maine-made goods to their delightful store.
A couple of years ago, Sally Struever, hired as PMA’s store and brand manager, was tasked with redesigning and remerchandising the store to better align it with the museum brand. She immediately immersed herself in updating the space, from changing lighting and fixtures to curating a rich, contemporary collection of jewelry, ceramics, and more.
The museum administration also wanted Struever to better integrate the shop with the community to sell local work and collaborate with local artists on projects. Now, all you have to do is stroll through the lighter, brighter store housed within this architectural gem of Portland, and you’ll discover loads and loads of products with a strong connection with Maine artists and artisans.
“One of the key new things in the last couple of years since I started at PMA—even though we’ve always had Maine-made products and things that conveyed the state’s imagery—is an inviting space that honors established and emerging Maine artisans and designers,” said Struever.
Local creative collaborations include one with branding and design firm Might and Main, which yielded a wonderful series of distinctive products to support Weatherbeaten, an exhibition of Winslow Homer’s work. “It was a very quick turnaround—and the suite of products developed truly reflects the spirit of both Homer and Maine,” said Struever. Examples include cheeky items like Homer’s famous whiskers rendered in plastic and the eye-catching silk-screened pillows showcasing a quote or painting by the artist and crafted by Black Point Mercantile of Scarborough, quite near his Prouts Neck studio.
Other collaborations: a series of graphic trays and accompanying tea towels by Eastport artist Anna Hepler. For the 2013 Biennial exhibition, Piece Work, the PMA store developed a fun line of desk accessories and office supplies including a mouse pad, mugs, and note cubes featuring the work of Biennial artists Adriane Herman and Brian Reeves.
Other pieces on display include mod rope bracelets by the Ropes, vintage-inspired jewelry by Ponomo, glass ornaments from Tandem Glass, whimsically graphic pillows by Erin Flett, and pieces by Meg K Walsh Ceramics, to name just a few.
Book worms beware: The PMA store houses Maine’s largest selection of art books. The wide assortment covers many aspects of art, photography, and design, along with biographies of artists, books explaining artistic techniques, and scholarly studies of art movements. “With rapid changes to the book industry, it’s important that we cultivate our reputation as a great resource for art books,” said Struever. Book signings are now part of the PMA store brand, with such notable artists as Dahlov Ipcar and Carl Little making appearances on behalf of their work.
Take a tour and you’ll see that the store is a happy mélange of apparel, cards, kids’ products (Andy Warhol tomato soup can puzzle, anyone?) and gift items. Struever and her team trawl for sources in Maine and beyond, often visiting gift shows and perusing the websites of unique designers to find original items for everyone from your favorite aunt to the most discriminating collector.
“The PMA store has become an extension of the museum experience and the PMA brand,” says Struever. “Our hope is visitors drop in, learn about the amazing independent designers in Maine, find a gift—and most of all garner some inspiration.”
Proceeds of the PMA store support the exhibitions and programs at the Portland Museum of Art. Admission to the museum is not required when visiting the shop, so check it out—or visit the online store, where there are treasures aplenty, too.
1. A great destination in itself—the Portland Museum of Art store.
2. The art book selection stands out as among the best in the state, with books for all ages.
3. Check out the Winslow Homer products, including a line of pillows designed by Might and Main and produced by Black Point Mercantile.
4. Sally Struever, manager of the store and brand administration at the Portland Museum of Art.
5. A catalog produced for the exhibition Winslow Homer: Poetics of Place, featuring much of the museum’s collection of Winslow Homer paintings and watercolors.
6. Color is key in the PMA Store. Here is a selection of Pantone-inspired mugs and other products.
7. Sea Glass Jewelry by Sara Holmes.
8. A tea towel with pattern designed by Anna Hepler, produced by and for the PMA Store.
9. Vases and pitcher by Tandem Glass Studio in Dresden.
Range of prices:
$1 to $500
Product most recently discovered:
A book by Maine artist and author M.J. Bronstein, PhotoPlay! Doodle, Design, Draw will be coming out this spring from Chronicle Books—we are really excited!
Great products for the home:
I love the Winslow Homer Quote pillows and the Anna Hepler trays and tea towels.
We’ll be developing a line of products with reproductions related to our summer exhibition, Richard Estes’s Realism.
Visit the Portland Museum of Art at 7 Congress Square in Portland or visit online at store.portlandmuseum.org.