New community art center in Houlton hopes to showcase local culture

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Aspiring artists of all ages in Houlton now have a place to go to hone their skills and exhibit their craft for all to see.

HOULTON, Maine – Aspiring artists of all ages in Houlton now have a place to go to hone their skills and exhibit their craft for all to see.

UnContained, a new community art center located along Main Street in Houlton, debuted this month and will soon be hosting several events such as basket weaving and a guitar building class, as well as programs extracurricular activities allowing children to come into contact with their more artistic side.

The center also runs regular classes in artistic mediums such as painting, clay and watercolor, as well as art classes for teens on Fridays.

The new community art center also hopes to serve as a bridge between cultures. It is led by Danielle Hartnett and her husband Dustin, as well as Laura Tomah, a member of the Houlton Maliseet Indian Band.

In addition to showcasing local artwork, the center also hopes to be a place where Indigenous artists can teach and exhibit their work.

“It connects the community between the natives and the locals,” said Tomah. One example is the centre’s basketry course, which is taught by Richard Silliboy of the Mi’kmaq tribe.

Houlton residents take painting classes at UnContained, a new community art center that opened on Main Street in October. (Photo courtesy of Danielle Hartnett)

Originally from Philadelphia, the Hartnett’s moved to Houlton eight years ago and hoped to create an atmosphere of a community art center they had frequented in their hometown. The location of the art center is the former home of the Wine Until Nine bar, and has retained the bar setting and drink menu for adults to enjoy when kids’ classes aren’t in progress.

“We have a couple of evenings coming up in November that will be scheduled for light fare and wine in a kind of relaxed environment,” said Dustin Hartnett. “We also do open mics on Mondays for musicians. “

Danielle Hartnett said the reception so far has been a great success for local artists. Local works are also on display at the center and are sold commission-free, meaning that all money from the sale goes to the artist.

“We have a multitude of local artists here who are incredibly talented,” she said. “We are able to represent not only the artists of Houlton, but also the Aboriginal artists who have no voice in their community.

UnContained is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Fridays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 9 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. Due to the small space inside the center, masks are mandatory and spaces are deep -cleaned after each session.

Houlton residents take painting classes at UnContained, a new community art center that opened on Main Street in October. (Photo courtesy of Danielle Hartnett)


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