Colby Officially Opens and Names Art Space Greene Block + Studios
First in a Series of Steps to Create an Arts Ecosystem in Central Maine
Colby’s one-of-a-kind space for artistic creation, innovation, and community interaction at the southern gateway to the city’s Main Street was officially named the Greene Block + Studios as part of an opening ceremony today in the new building. The name, which was at the request of the lead donors for the space, Peter H. Lunder ’56, D.F.A. ’98 and Life Trustee Paula Crane Lunder, D.F.A. ’98, is intended to recognize David and Carolyn Greene and their efforts to engage and work with the Waterville community, including using the arts to support the resurgence of the city and meaningfully contribute to the quality of life of its residents.
The $6.5-million building will offer vibrant arts programming, provide space for interdisciplinary artistic collaborations, and promote the development of creative work by Maine and national artists, educators, scholars, and students. Formerly known as 14-20 Main Street, it was most recently referred to as the arts collaborative.
“This remarkable project, which saved two historic structures on Main Street, reflects the Lunders’ commitment to Waterville, community building, Colby, and the arts,” said President David A. Greene. “It took vision—and a good dose of faith—to see the possibilities for these long-abandoned buildings to become a centerpiece of Waterville’s revitalization. But the Lunders have an uncanny ability to recognize potential when others only see challenges. Their boundless generosity and trust inspire us to do the same. That our family’s name will be forever linked with the Lunders in this building is the honor of a lifetime. We are deeply grateful and humbled.”
Exactly What We Hoped Would Happen
Peter and Paula Lunder believe the new space will provide important opportunities for artists and make Waterville a place where people can create, including the many talented artists in the surrounding area. “David and Carolyn understand that the arts can do so much to enhance the lives of everyone here and can change the spirit of the area,” said Peter Lunder. “Everyone wants to be with a winner, and right now that winner is Waterville in large part because of David’s visionary leadership. That work deserves recognition now, not later.”
Paula Lunder added that from the moment they met President Greene he recognized not only their love of art but their strong belief in its importance as part of a liberal arts education, and “that has been incredibly meaningful to us,” she said. “David and Carolyn have done so much to elevate the arts as part of the Colby experience and beyond. From the Lunder Institute to this new space on Main Street, their vision for the arts is exactly what we hoped would happen at Colby and in Waterville, Maine.”
Unique Combination of Form and Function
The nearly 25,000-square-foot building, which developed on pace despite the pandemic, includes flexible performance and exhibition space on the ground floor that will support a range of arts-centered programs and events. Many of these will be generated by students and faculty and complemented by additional programs developed with and for local residents.
The second and third floors feature six large, light-filled, flexible artist studios designed to support both established and emerging creative practitioners working across a range of mediums through residential and visiting artist programs overseen by the Lunder Institute for American Art, part of the Colby College Museum of Art. The fourth floor serves as home to the Lunder Institute and Colby College’s Arts Office. Comprised of offices and research and convening spaces, this floor powers the artistic and public-facing mission of the building. It also offers space for scholars, artists, staff, faculty, and students to develop ideas, innovate, explore collaborations, and connect with partners.
“The whole building serves as a wonderful bridge, a place to gather in community. It is a catalyst for artists from our region and from across the United States to inhabit central Maine, not as a place to retreat, but as a place for connection, exploration, and active inquiry,” commented Jacqueline Terrassa, the Carolyn Muzzy Director of the Colby College Museum of Art. “During their time here, artists work in spacious light-filled studios, find support for their ideas, forge new collaborations, contribute to the Colby curriculum and its educational mission, and engage through their practice with other creative thinkers and community members, including students and faculty at Colby.”
Construction of the Greene Block + Studios involved restoring and consolidating two long-neglected historic buildings. Despite the pandemic, work began in July 2020 by Landry/French Construction based on a design by Ryan Senatore Architecture. A mix of adaptive reuse and new construction was utilized, and the College used as many local contractors as possible.
Resident Artists and Programming
A key component of the building will be the Lunder Institute resident fellows, who are using the studios to develop and expand their respective art. Selected and hosted by the Lunder Institute, they represent a wide range of disciplines and mediums—from visual artists to dancer/choreographers and sound artists—but are connected by their commitment to community engagement and co-creation.
To date, there have been six fellows creating at the Greene Block + Studios. The current group includes Julia Arredondo, an artist-entrepreneur who works in multiple mediums, and E. Saffronia Downing, a sculpture artist working with clay and creating site-specific installations. They join continuing residential fellows Adriane Herman, a visual and social-practice artist, and Veronica Perez, a multidisciplinary artist working mainly in sculpture, through the end of 2021. This past summer dancer and choreographer Riley Watts and sound artist Jose Barrionuevo ’16 participated in the program.
The Lunder Institute is partnering with the Maine College of Art (MECA) to ensure that every group of Lunder Institute fellows will include a MECA alumni or faculty who will have opportunities to engage in Waterville’s arts ecosystem. Herman, professor of studio art at MECA, and Perez, an M.F.A. graduate, exemplify this institutional relationship.
While the space had some spring and summer programming as part of its soft launch, community participation was limited due to the pandemic. However, this fall there will be a wide range of workshops, readings, performances, and conversations. In fact, this past week the Greene Block + Studios had its first open house where area residents, including Colby students, faculty, and staff members, had the opportunity to meet and engage with the current teaching artists as well as resident fellows. Visitors also had the chance to experience Sam Nester’s Arcadia designed specifically for Colby. Arcadia is an interactive sound and light installation that uses the biorhythms of native Maine plants to create music and corresponding light cues.
Situated across the street from the soon-to-be-completed Lockwood Hotel and the newly opened Front & Main restaurant, the opening of the Greene Block + Studios is another example of the significant momentum of the revitalization taking place in Waterville. Other recent highlights include the start of construction for the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, a partnership between Colby and Waterville Creates.
Additional initiatives include a road and streetscape improvement project, preliminary construction at the old Lockwood Mills, and preparatory work for the Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts, which officially broke ground on Colby’s campus this past weekend.
Making Waterville a premier destination for the arts by creating a dynamic arts ecosystem throughout the area has been a core strategy developed through the initial planning partnership with the city, and that strategy is now being realized. Waterville will soon have a diverse set of flexible, multipurpose spaces for art and cultural programming that will enrich life in the city, bring new activity and vitality to downtown, and continue to grow Waterville’s stature as Maine’s next great city where people want to live, work, and visit.