Wednesday, January 23, 2013

another busy week!

Yes, it's been another busy week! Here's a recap:

I got an email last week from a woman named Pat who saw my work at Arts Downtown and All Around back in December. We chatted during the show and she took one of my cards. Well, the email I got from her said that my art has "stayed" with her, and she would like to buy a piece as a birthday present to herself! What a nice surprise. We met up with each other the next day, and she told me she saw my work at Jai Yoga during the "7 Days for $7" event at the beginning of January as well, which reminded her to contact me. We had a really nice conversation, and I have a feeling we will probably run into each other at some point...maybe even at a Brunswick Art Collaborative meeting!

On Friday, Terry and I finally made it out to an opening at the Saccarappa Art Collaborative, a co-op style gallery in Westbrook owned by our friend, artist Andy Curran. Our dear friend Jeremy Greene is one of the other artists whose work is on display there, and it was great to see the space, the work, and the crowds. We had been meaning to attend one of their openings for a long time, but it seemed like every time the Saccarappa Art Collaborative had an opening, I was involved in one, we jumped at the chance to finally go. The next morning, I logged onto Facebook, and to my surprise, there was a picture of my friend Kat Logan's band, Meteora, performing the night before at the Curtis Memorial the Morrell Meeting Room right in front of my artwork! I guess you can't be in two places at once, but at least my work was there for the Meteora performance. As Kat said: "It was so nice to be surrounded by your beautiful inspiring and full of good energy!!!!!"

Last night was a Brunswick Town Council meeting, and Hati Modr and I were invited to introduce ourselves and speak for a bit at the beginning of the evening. I was nervous, but Hati and I went up to the podium together, which felt good- safety in numbers! I think things went well last night, but it's hard to tell without having seen anything. I hope they will rebroadcast it sometime. I will have to poke around on the town website. I hadn't prepared a statement or anything like that, but I saw Hati taking notes as we were waiting to be introduced, so I jumped on the idea as well. We both kept our statements brief, upbeat, and casual, and I didn't need to refer to my notes at all. I think just the act of writing some thoughts down helped me to keep things straight. Blake was there getting video footage as well, so if I can't catch a rebroadcast somewhere, at least I'll be able to see what he filmed.

Speaking of filming, I stopped by Blake's house today to get a lesson on how to use one of his videocameras. He loaned me one of his simpler cameras so I can try my hand at shooting my own footage. I am a little intimidated, but the camera seems like it's going to be pretty easy to use, so I'm hopeful at the same time. I'm planning on stopping by the library to get some more footage of my show there, and maybe I'll even take it into my studio to get some shots of what I'm working on these days. Who knows? It might be fun!  

Monday, January 14, 2013

it's spelled j-o-y

The 5th annual Joy of Art juried show at the Topsham Public Library is officially up and running! The show began on January 5th, but the opening reception was Saturday, January 12th from 1 pm to 3 pm. The Crooker Gallery was filled with artists and art lovers alike, and once again, I was impressed by the whole event. The art was diverse, the turnout was good, the food was yummy, and the music by Bill and Kate Gray was fantastic. Terry came with me, and we met up with Trish in the library parking lot...perfect timing! We spent the afternoon chatting with many other Five Rivers Arts Alliance members (Peggy Kapisovsky, Lee Cheever, Bill Tomsa, Debbie Casterlin, Lucy Cooney), and afterwards, we treated ourselves to some very yummy gelato and sorbetto at The Gelato Fiasco. The only bummer for me was that, once again, the "y" in "Usery" was left off, so my name is listed in the program as "Maria Castellano-User", just like last year. I figured it was just a typo the first time, but now I'm starting to wonder if it's a space or "character limit" issue...maybe using a smaller font would help? I'll have to ask. Believe me, I realize it's an easy name to misspell. Hey, at least my website address is correct!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

serious recapping

What a week! I need to do some serious recapping. Here goes:

1. A week ago, I hung my solo show at Curtis Memorial Library. First of all, I want to send out major thanks to Patricia Boissevain for stopping by for a bit and helping me with layout/hanging decisions! The Morrell Meeting Room is beautiful. It's also huge and intimidating. When I first walked in, I thought, "What have I gotten myself into?" Three hours and fifteen minutes later, the show was completely hung and things were looking good. I had to go home to work on the title/price list (no tags for this show) and then type up numbers to hang next to each piece. I was surprised to discover that I had 56 pieces on display! It's a good thing I paint every day!

2. Saturday, January 5th was the opening reception for my solo show, and I am relieved to say that it was great! I was worried that people wouldn't show up, but thankfully that wasn't the case. I posted the event on the Five Rivers Arts Alliance Facebook page (!/FiveRiversArtsAlliance?fref=ts) and the Times Record in Brunswick had it listed in the "events calendar" (; several people stopped by as a direct result of those posts. Family, friends, and art lovers of all kinds were in attendance, and the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive: the music from Cumberland Crossing was a hit (!/pages/Cumberland-Crossing/103708278373?fref=ts), the food was a hit, and the art was a hit, too. I met some really nice people and got to see others who I hadn't seen in quite a while. I sold four pieces during the opening, and I got a phone call from someone a few days later saying they wanted to bring the running total to 5! The evening flew by, and after the show was over, we went to El Camino to celebrate. Yay!

3. On Monday, January 7th, I hung a two-woman show with Hati Modr at the Brunswick Town Council Chambers. Hati is lovely and so is her work, so it's a real treat to be sharing this space with her. Our work looks good together, too. We both love color, but we both have very different, distinct styles. It will be interesting to hear what people have to say about this show. Anyway, I'm glad I live so close to town, because I had to run home twice to get more paintings and to type up additional tags! I'm also glad I brought my "bag of tricks" with me, because there were no picture hangers on hand for us to use. All of the paintings on display are food-themed, except for one: I hung my "Forget-Me-Nots'' painting because we had a space that needed to be filled and it was the right size...that's one of the ones I ran home for. I think it works, even if it's not a food painting. To be fair, I didn't have too many spare paintings lying around to choose from since I've got work in four different places right now!

4. Last night was the first Brunswick Art Collaborative meeting of 2013, and I'm glad I was able to make it. I was able to make progress on a couple of different pieces, and at the end of the evening, Joanne (one of the members) took out a bunch of boxes that were the same size and shape (they had previously been used for Christmas ornaments). She passed one out to each of us and said she thought it would be interesting to see what we would come up with. I'm excited about this little project/challenge, and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else does!

5. This morning, Hati and I met with Blake Hendrickson at the Town Council Chambers. He took some photos and some footage of us with our paintings for a video to be aired on TV3 as promotion for our show. Things seemed to go well, in spite of the fact that at one point while I was speaking on camera, my cell phone started ringing. Whoops. I don't think I'll make that mistake again!

Okay, I think I'm officially caught up now...and now I'm tired. Good night!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Happy New Year, art lovers! 2012 was quite a ride, wasn't it? I want to wish all of you a very happy, healthy, and joyful 2013, and I'd like to say thank you once again for all of your support. It will be interesting to see where this new year takes us! Things are starting off with a bang. Is that a champagne cork or a starting gun?

First, I have a solo show this month at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick! I'll be hanging the show tomorrow and it will be up until January 31st. The opening reception is this Saturday evening, January 5th, from 5 pm to 7 pm, and I am very happy to say that the lovely and talented Cumberland Crossing will be performing! I'm hoping the weather will be kind. January in Maine can be a crapshoot, but so far, the forecast looks good. Here's the link to the Curtis Memorial Library's event calendar:

Second, I will be participating in the 5th annual Joy of Art group show at the Topsham Public Library! This show is Tuesday, January 8th through Saturday, February 16th. There will be an opening reception on Saturday, January 12th from 1 pm to 3 pm, and an artists' talk on Saturday, February 16th at 11 am. Awards will be given by the jury during the opening reception, and there is also a "people's choice" award up for grabs (to be announced on February 16th), so come on by and vote for your favorite piece! Check out the Topsham Public Library's website for more information: I did this show last year, and boy, am I glad I did! I made the cover of The Cryer in the beginning of the year with a picture taken at this show, and in the fall, I ended up on the cover of the Topsham Public Library's annual report with another picture taken at this show! Once again, major thanks to Keith Spiro and Susan Preece for that.

Third, I am excited to have a two-woman show with Hati Modr at the Brunswick Town Council Chambers! This show begins on Monday, January 7th. This is not a "typical" gallery show, but if you'd like to stop by and see it in person, the best time to do that would be before the council meeting every other Monday from 6:30 pm – 7 pm (meetings are held at 7 pm) at the Brunswick Station, 16 Station Avenue, in the Town Council Chambers, located on the second floor. The municipal calendar is available at If you live in Brunswick and you watch the council meetings on TV3, you will be able to see the art on display behind the councilors. Word on the street is that these meetings will be fairly well-attended (I guess there are some school budget-related matters to be discussed), which I guess is not always the case. The timing sounds good to me!

Last, but certainly not least, my work is still on display at Jai Yoga at Fort Andross in Brunswick! If you're in the Brunswick area (or even if you're not, but you're up for making the drive), you should check out the "7 Days For $7" promotion they have running right now. It's a great way to begin the new year. I'll be doing it! Here is a link to their website: