Maine-Japan printmaking exchange celebrates 5 years

Image Credit: Michiko Kusakabe, Grape Hunting, 2019, Woodblock print

Common Street Arts, in Waterville, will host a collection of prints by artists from Maine and Aomori, Japan, beginning May 18 through July 18, at the Hathaway Creative Center, in downtown Waterville. The traveling exhibition is part of MAPS (Maine-Aomori Printmaking Society), a cultural exchange program sharing art and artists between Maine and Aomori. The MAPS initiative is celebrating five years of collaborative exhibitions and artist exchanges. MAPS will be on view virtually through Common Street Arts’ social media channels including Facebook and Instagram. Common Street Arts will provide associated virtual programming through its Afterschool Art Club Facebook series and provide additional video content to share the exhibition with viewers. There will also be opportunities to purchase prints through the Maine Aomori Printmaking Society.

Since 2015, curators Jeff Badger and Jiro Ono have coordinated the exchange of ten prints each year from artists in Maine and Aomori. The prints have been exhibited in Maine and Japan and now the collection numbers over a hundred works. The prints exchanged in 2019-2020 will be exhibited at Common Street Arts in Waterville from May 18 through July 18. The same collection was shown at the Aomori Arts Pavilion in Japan during the Citizen Culture Days in October 2019. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with MAPS and look forward to showcasing this beautiful collection of prints. It’s a wonderful partnership and we are so pleased to be able to serve as a virtual venue,” says Patricia King, Vice President of Waterville Creates.

The official relationship between Maine and Aomori has been in place for over 20 years, but the fascinating connection between the two states goes back to the wreck of a ship from Bath off the Japanese coast in 1889, resulting in a daring rescue of American sailors by Japanese villagers. In addition to MAPS, Friends of Aomori – the all-volunteer non-profit that supports the partnership – also supports high-school exchange programs, educational workshops and events, and economic development opportunities. “The MAPS print collection has grown into a beautiful representation of the diversity and excellence in printmaking that can be found in both Maine and Aomori. Our goal is to exhibit this dynamic and growing collection all over the State of Maine. We are proud to partner with Common Street Arts to share the work with the people of Waterville and neighboring communities,” says Badger.
h MAPS is presented by Friends of Aomori and made possible by the generous support of the Rines-Thomspon fund of the Maine Community Foundation and Ocean House Gallery and Frame.


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