Apparently, Things Do Change
It may have started with musicals like Jesus Christ Super Star, summers spent at Choral Camp at the University of Maine in Orono, or that favorite teacher who guided his interests around the art department. However, it ended as the lead singer in a rock band and finally, the owner of a successful gallery. That’s right, being the front man is nothing new for John Spain. Even though it is now more common to find the owner of Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture in jeans and a dress shirt, not black leather pants and a tank top, his love of music and the arts has never wavered.
“Bands like Kings X, Yes and Pink Floyd influenced me musically,” says Spain. “However, my vocal inspirations came from singers like Chris Cornell and Geoff Tate. I also love the jazz greats of the 50’s and 60’s: Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis. It’s usually a surprise when I put my iTunes on shuffle. I never know who will come up – Yo Yo Ma, Ella Fitzgerald or Sound Garden.”
By the time high school was over, John did find another calling. Sales. Car sales in particular. His love of everything with four wheels quickly led him to discover his knack for marketing and sales. He was good. Of course, having a nice, steady paycheck in his pocket was pretty good, too. However, he couldn’t give up the pursuit of his musical dreams.
“When the opportunity to move to New York to pursue a rock and roll career arose, I couldn’t turn it down. Things didn’t work out, but I wasn’t ready to go back to New Hampshire. I loved the city. Instead, I hit the street for a job. I still had to pay rent,” says Spain. “It wasn’t long before I found a small gallery on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I started on the floor, but soon moved into management.”
It was a conscious decision to hang up his microphone and leather and begin his career in the gallery business. He spent three years in New York, and has fond memories of the city and his time there. Yet, after a short trip to the Maine coast in 1991, it was time for a change. Click here to read the story about how Maine Art began. As busy as he was starting up a new business, there was still a part of him that missed the adrenaline that performing gave him. What is an ex-rocker turned gallery owner to do? Not willing to slip back into the leather pants, John chose a different suit; a fire retardant one.
“I have been racing sports cars for almost twenty years, now. I compete all over the U.S. and Canada. I also have the privilege of teaching other drivers how to race. It’s rewarding and makes me a better racer. Overall, I win some. I lose some. And yes, I even crash some. It’s all part of the experience,” says Spain. “I love driving a new racetrack. In fact, you could say I collect them. The only thing I love more than the tracks are the drivers I compete against. We are a tight-knit group. Actually, one of my Bucket List items is to perfect my skills and speed to the point where I can regularly beat the drivers I most respect and admire,” he pauses and laughs. “They know who they are.”
When John is not driving around the track, he is driving around the country. His love of the outdoors, coupled with his wandering soul, makes cross-country RVing a perfect scenario. Thanks to his amazing year-round managers, Amy and Natalie, he is able to work remotely during the off season and cruise the United States in search of adventures. (Considering this interview was done from the passenger seat of the 40 ft diesel pusher coach, I’m not complaining.) It may have started with mountain biking and hiking, but more recently he has added canyoneering, kayaking and backpacking, sometimes all in one day.
“National Parks might be the only thing I have collected more of than racetracks. I have visited 48 of the fifty states, leaving North Dakota and Alaska for that ever growing Bucket List,” says Spain. “I love Maine and am lucky to have all my family living in New England, but this country is just too beautiful not to experience first-hand.”
Though Spain himself has brought many changes to his world over the course of his life, regrets are few and rewards, many. He has a woman who loves him and puts up with his crazy, a wonderful supportive and encouraging family, and an incredible group of friends he would do anything for. On top of it all, he owns a charming home and a thriving business in the beautiful town of Kennebunk, Maine.
“I have no future dream job. I love my life. Maybe in my next life I’ll manage a professional racing team,” Spain says thoughtfully, “or maybe a National Park Ranger, or I could drive a tourist town trolley for tips. Now that would be fun. Seriously though, I am lucky. I am happy. And if today is my last day on Earth, I leave with a smile on my face.”
* Interested in seeing this ex-rockstar, race car driving, gallery owner perform live? Watch around town for Lisa Mills and her amazing musical partners. She occasionally shares her mic with John.
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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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Amy Lewia is the Gallery Director at Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture. She has been with the gallery for twelve years and is the “Go to Girl” for just about everything. However, if you had asked her right out of college if being in the art business was her dream, she probably would have laughed out loud.
“For 15 years I was a dancer; ballet (including pointe), tap, jazz, lyrical and hip hop. I competed in hip hop for many years. I was going to be a dancer,” says Lewia. “It took me to some fun places, including competitions and conventions in Boston, New York City and Walt Disney World. I marched and performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and was on an episode of Extreme Home Makeover.”
Her college years took her to the University of New Hampshire to study archeology for a year, then to the University of New England to study psychobiology with a focus in animal behavior. Hmmmm – so where does art come in? Amy moved to Maine at the age of nine and graduated from Kennebunk High School in 2002. She considers the Kennebunks her home. When she transferred to UNH, a part time job at Maine Art sounded like fun.
“I was trying to pay my way through school. At the time I was hired, I was also working two other jobs; Assistant Manager and Head Barista at KBC Coffee and Dry Goods and slinging pizzas at Atlantic Pizza,” says Lewia. “I heard through a customer that Maine Art was hiring, so on a whim I decided to apply for the custom framing job. I felt I had a great eye for color and design – and here we are!”
Watching Amy work, seeing her interact with customers and staff, she is a natural. However, she is the first to attest this hasn’t always been easy. She laughs when sharing a few things only those close to her know and are rarely seen in the gallery.
“I’m actually extremely shy, though this job has helped me tremendously to overcome a fear of speaking. John, the owner of the gallery, can surely attest to this. I also have a dry and dark sense of humor. On top of that, I am terrible at keeping in touch with people.” The irony, and humor, is not lost on Lewia. “My customers rarely see this side of me, but those closest to me endure each frequently, like it or not.”
If you are a regular customer at Maine Art, it may seem as if Amy is always there. Probably her husband Nick and young son, Brandon, feel the same way, especially during the summer months. However, her time is important, and she tries to keep a good balance between work, family and self. She has always been an active person, but the activities have changed.
“I love spending time with my family, traveling, animals/wildlife, food and being with friends. When I have the time, I love to read and to get outside in nature. Working full time and raising a toddler leaves very little free time these days.”
Amy and Nick will be celebrating ten years together and six years married in May. Bran will be three in April, which is hard to believe. Both sets of their parents live within forty-five minute’s drive, as well as all of their siblings. Lewia loves Maine and is happy that her son will grow up here, yet a desire for him to see more of the world is present.
“I want to start traveling more. I need to travel through Europe. I would absolutely love to travel cross-country with the family,” she pauses. “For me, my bucket list is long. I would enjoy attending a yoga/meditation/wellness retreat. I’d love to return to Costa Rica, where we were married, and see a bit more of the country. Maybe even overcome my fear of water and SCUBA dive around a coral reef, then an African safari and a tour of New Zealand.”
Not all of Amy’s future plans are for travel. She still has a tremendous longing to work with animals, specifically studying wild animals in their natural habitat. The desire to help rehabilitate injured/orphaned wildlife and return them to their home hasn’t ever gone away. For now her a ten-year-old fur baby, Marley Moab, keeps her connected with her love of all the creatures. Well, most. Spiders are a whole different story.
Amy is the perfect example of how diverse and interesting our staff here at Maine Art is. One assumes art is, and has always been, her world. The hard work and effort she puts into her job is indescribable, but in actuality she is so much more. We are very lucky to have her at the helm.
Amy is in the gallery all year-round. She and Patrick and Natalie are keeping things moving and getting ready for the busy summer season. Please come by, take a minute to chat, and see all the changes that have been going on throughout the winter.
Check out our website for current hours. www.maine-art.com.
See you soon.
Trisha Winslow came to Maine Art quite by accident. She didn’t apply or submit a resume or even inquire about an open position. She just wandered down the stairs from the second floor and found a quiet niche that suited her. That was three years ago. Now, she is the voice behind our blog and the face behind the desk at Maine Art Shows.
“I never thought my love for the owner of the gallery would transcend into a love for the gallery itself,” says Trisha, who is also John Spain’s significant other. “However, just being around the staff and the artists and the customers, it was easy to get sucked in.”
Born and raised in Waterboro, Maine, a little town just inland from Kennebunk, Trisha is very much a Maine girl. Graduating from Massabesic High School, she moved on to the University of Maine at Orono to obtain her degree in Elementary Education. Family and career took her from Boothbay to Houlton and then back to the southern Maine coast.
“This state is an incredible place to grow up. I was a ‘free-range kid,’ and only came home at night when the fire whistle blew,” says Winslow. “In turn, I loved raising my own daughter, Amanda, in the same atmosphere. She is now a very well-adjusted, happy adult, who has also found her own home in Maine. There is just something innately good about being from here.”
Trisha is the first to tell you she has no art background. A fourteen year veteran language arts teacher, she took a jump with a serious career change when she joined Maine Art. Writing was always a passion, although never for a public audience. Yet, her interview skills and love of words helped to give the artists and gallery something we didn’t have, a voice. Although truth be told, she claims it wasn’t the job she gave up teaching for, it was the boss.
“Five years ago, if someone would have asked me where I would be today, this never would have been my answer. It’s a bit crazy and surreal,” says Winslow. “John and I travel all over the country seven or eight months out of the year – in an RV! I keep the blog up and help with social media. For him, I’m a sounding board and often devil’s advocate. I stuff envelopes or edit copy, whatever needs doing.”
Of course in their down time, they are hiking, climbing, and wandering all over this beautiful country. With almost thirty National Parks and over thirty states covered in the last few years, these two don’t sit still very long in the winter.
“I had never hiked before a few years ago. I’m now on my third pair of boots. I have slept on a rock under the hoodoos in Canyonlands National Park in Utah, dangled off a rope in a waterfall in Maui, and shared a trail with a gigantic elk in Colorado,” says Trisha. “ This country is so beautiful and wild. I am truly blessed to be able to travel and see such wonders.”
As much as she loves the adventure, Trisha is always happy to trade in those hiking boots for sandals once summer comes around. Kennebunk and Kennebunkport have certainly become her home. During the day, she can normally be found up on the hill at Maine Art Shows. Not only is she an expert on the resident show artists and their work, she is a wealth of local knowledge about where to eat and what to do while staying in the area.
Please stop in at Maine Art Shows this summer and say hello. The gallery at 10 Chase Hill Road opens in June 2017 with our first of four summer shows. Click here to find show dates and details.
As always you can visit on-line at www.maine-art.com.
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Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture; the name says it all – almost. Maine Art has an additional service that not all galleries offer; custom picture framing. At the back of the sales counter sits our in-house frame shop. It is behind the scenes, yet a key part to complete your gallery experience. Every February, we thank our customers & celebrate the custom framing aspect of the gallery with a 25% off Custom Framing Sale. The time is now!
The custom framing aspect of the gallery works to support our artists and our customers. Only a few of our artists frame their own work. By having the frame shop at hand, we are able to assist them and our clients to find framing that enhances each piece, as well as the room it will soon call home.
John Spain, owner of the gallery, says, “When I purchased Kennedy Studios 25 years ago, framing was a large component of the business. Now, even though framing is only a part of what we do, it remains an invaluable convenience for our customers and artists alike.”
Though John understands the value of this service, it is Natalie Lane, the gallery manger, who is the brains and talent behind it. With over twenty-four years experience, we are incredibly lucky to have her at the framing table. For the last ten years, she has shared her amazing eye for design, her color sense, and skills in the Maine Art workshop. She is a master framer.
Many have used this service for new pieces of work which were purchased through the gallery. However, we offer custom framing for a myriad of cherished items and previously-owned artwork. Natalie’s ability and willingness to think “outside the frame” has changed heirlooms into works of art.
“My favorite items to frame are photos and correspondence from the past. Clients bring in bits of family history to preserve, so their story continues to touch future generations,” says Natalie. “I enjoy listening to the client and discovering the story behind whatever they’ve brought in. Knowing why it’s important to them is just as much a part of the process as finding the perfect frame.”
From ‘Hole in One’ score cards, a golf course map, and a flag from the hole, to a handmade christening gown that was passed through several generations, we can help you preserve it.
“I am always amazed at what people bring in, and have been truly blessed to see some fabulous pieces of family history,” says Lane as she lists off some of her favorites. “A Civil War Union cap with drumsticks, rocks and sediment samples from a mining vacation, a marriage proposal on a napkin, (she said yes!), a chef-signed menu from a favorite restaurant,vintage maps, wallpaper and upholstery scraps along with recipe cards from a grandmother. The list goes on. I even framed a hand painted tapestry of Hare Krishna’s Wedding.”
Just when we think we have seen it all, someone comes in to challenge Natalie and her skills. “One of the most unique requests for me was a bathroom fixture with a plug. The customer just couldn’t part with it after renovations. It was part of a childhood memory of the home. Once framed, they hung it in the newly renovated bathroom; a perfect memory of the past. How fabulous is that?”
Due to the influx of work, Natalie has started to train Patrick Harrison, one of our year-round sales staff. There is just too much work for one woman to keep up with, especially in the summer. Patrick has agreed to spend part of his winter hours learning this trade.
“Patrick has just begun his training. There is still a lot to cover, but he is taking to it very quickly. He is showing a real talent,” says Lane. “His art background is advantageous in understanding what type of artwork is before him. It is also key when looking at the design aspect.”
If you love, cherish or otherwise value it, it should be cared for. If framing is the best way to present or preserve it, we can help. Each individual work that comes before us is carefully considered as to how it should be handled. We frame original works along with limited edition gilcée prints, serigraphs, lithographs, textiles, needlework, pastels and anything else you can imagine. We use all acid-free materials and care for each item as if it were our own. We offer glazing selections that include UV protection for works to be framed under glass, including museum glass.
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We are the faces that greet you when you walk through the door. We are the “Hello,” the “How are you?” and the “How can I help?” We are the knowledge of the artists and the experts on those amazing “spinny things”. There are even times, because we are all locals, we are the tourist information center. That is us, the staff at Maine Art.
Kennebunk and Kennebunkport are very much small towns. We are referred to as, “a friendly coastal village,” and we try to live up to that reputation. Most of us have been here for a bit, and plan on sticking around for a while longer. For those who have visited before, we pride ourselves on recognizing faces, calling folks by name, and often asking about family and winter’s news.
We know our artists personally and have had the privilege of spending time with each during visits and shows. Due to this, we are able to share their stories and insights with you. Whether it is a featured artist at Maine Art Shows or one of the thirty continuing artists at Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture, we tell you more about a piece than just the size and price. We tell you about the person.
In the end, it’s our job to make our customers feel at home when they call or come visit either gallery. We not only sell this work, we all own a few pieces, as well. We want shopping for and buying artwork to be fun and engaging. We want clients to leave the galleries having enjoyed their time and making plans for another visit.
With all of this said, we would like to introduce ourselves. Throughout the winter we will be featuring a member and sharing a bit about them. It is our hope this will allow you to get to know us a bit better and feel a bit more at ease when coming to visit.
So, until then…happy days.
Don’t forget to come and visit in February during ‘Paint the Town Red.’ We are open all winter, but be sure to check the website for current hours.
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