This coming summer brings the fourth season at Maine Art for Donna Speirs. She may have begun her employment three years ago, but the interesting introduction to the gallery happened years before that.
“The day I closed on my house in Hampstead, NH, I went to Foxwoods Casino. Isn’t that on the way to Kennebunk? Anyway, I sat next to a wonderful woman for over three hours. She was from Kennebunk, and one of the owners of Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture. It only took me five years before I made it into the gallery to see Francesca again,” says Speirs, “and I’m still here.”
Donna was born north of Boston, and if you listen carefully you can still hear it in her voice. Of course, with the twang comes the love of the Patriots and the Red Sox, two of her favorite pastimes.
“Having an older brother, who was a tremendous athlete, I was dragged to every football, basketball, and baseball game for years! I so resented it then, but now I recognize it as a learning experience,” says Speirs. “Summers were spent following the Red Sox. I was at the opening game at Schaefer Stadium when the Patriots played the Giants. I saw Larry Bird play dozens of times, and then there is Bobby Orr. I’ve been to five World Series games and a Super Bowl. I was even able to to sit in the Red Sox dugout for seven innings in Oakland, CA. I met the entire team, a spectacular 1978 team at that, and got all their autographs. Sports have been a large part of my family, and I love how it brings people together and it’s a celebration.”
Donna’s skills cover fields too broad to comprehend, never mind mention. However, it is her diverse background that makes her so good at what she does for us here at Maine Art. Her degree in Liberal Arts at Bradford Junior College in Massachusetts to the University of New Hampshire, Durham and her BS in Art Education are just the beginning. She has also studied at Massachusetts College of Art, deCordova School, Otis Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles, Culinary Institute of the Arts in Napa, California, and LiYuen’s Chinese Culinary School in North Hampton, New Hampshire. So what does a girl do with all this expertise?
“I was an art teacher at a middle school in Billerica, Massachusetts for ten years. Then I needed a change,” says Speirs. “I have been a real estate broker for thirty years. I am licensed in New Hampshire and Maine, and was part of the top ten in sales at a company of 300 agents for six consecutive years.” But that is not all. “For two years, I painted for artist, Katherine Houston. It was a wonderful experience sponsored by Karma. It was the best job I’ve ever had. I’m still very good friends with artists who worked there with me.
To top it off, Donna taught cooking classes at Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School. She was the international chef, recruited new chefs, and assisted the chefs with their classes. She also had to write the menus and recipes for the classes. It was a true culinary education. Her love of food is clear, right down to her license plate on her car.
“I love GREAT food, and I totally enjoy cooking for family and friends. When I travel – twenty-one different countries so far – learning about different cultures and cuisines is a focus. My real passion for food goes back to my California days of following Alice Waters and the ‘farm to table’ movement that began there in the ’80’s,” says Speirs. “I have won numerous recipe/cooking contests. The biggest was a Hood Milk contest for all of New England. Six states, over 4,000 contestants, and I won top prize.”
Food, travel and sports keep Donna busy, but family is first. With two beautiful, independent and successful daughters – one lives in Korea and one in Las Vegas – she loves being a mom. She also has an identical twin sister who lives in Boston, and a brother who lives in Florida.
“Growing up with an Italian family was always about our gatherings of family and, of course, really great Italian food. My passions and celebrations are the byproducts of growing up Italian,” says Speirs.
So what is next for Donna, besides spending summers with us at Maine Art, of course?
“Italy, for certain,” say Speirs. “I need to complete my Italian citizenship paperwork. Then maybe a part time move to Italy. I totally love all things Italian. The culture, people, food (duh), countryside, diversity of all the areas, and the magnificent scenery. It’s like a magnet to me. It’s in my soul.”
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