Wintergreen Relaunches First Friday Art Exhibits With a Familiar Face

Wintergreen is hosting its first First Friday event in its new space at the Aroostook Center Mall. It is also the first public opening of First Friday since the nonprofit reduced its calendar of events during the pandemic.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Ever since Almost Isle native Alexandra Michaud began volunteering at the Wintergreen Art Center’s First Friday Downtown Art Walk exhibits, she knew that one day she wanted to be the featured artist of her own. exposure.

That goal became a reality on Friday, March 5, when Michaud showcased 27 of his acrylic paintings at Wintergreen at the nonprofit’s first First Friday event at its new space at the Aroostook Center Mall. The opening was also Wintergreen’s first First Friday public opening since curtailing its event schedule during the pandemic, and Michaud’s first-ever exhibition as an artist.

Michaud’s work features vibrant dark and vivid colors that often allude to the strong emotions of the people she depicts or present a new perspective on familiar landscapes such as winter snowfields and coastal shores. Although Michaud sometimes thinks of personal experiences while painting, she says she most often taps into emotions.

Paintings by Alexandra Michaud, “Golden Vines” (left) and “Reflections”. (Melissa Lizotte | The Star Herald)

“Sometimes I just paint what I feel. I like to take the emotions of human experiences and add them to my work,” Michaud said.

Michaud is a 2020 graduate of the University of Maine at Près Isle Social Work program and recently moved to Waterville to pursue her Masters in Social Work at the University of Maine. She hopes to one day work with children and integrate art as a therapeutic technique for patients.

On a personal level, Michaud sees art as a means of expressing one’s inner thoughts and feelings, especially during life’s most difficult times.

“Art is a way for me to escape. It allows me to relax during the busiest times of my life,” Michaud said. “I think it’s important for everyone to have some type of coping mechanism.”

Michaud’s ties to Wintergreen are family. Her father, Carl Michaud, and her mother, Kim Guerrette Michaud, are long-time Wintergreen volunteers and recently served on the Board of Directors.

While beaming with pride at her daughter’s artwork, Kim Guerrette Michaud said Alex often chatted with featured artists at Wintergreen while volunteering for First Friday events. She noted how much Alex’s art grew in the five years she actively painted.
“We’ve seen his paintings go from fun to insightful to being both fun and insightful,” she said. “When you look at his paintings of people, it’s like looking at someone through his eyes.”

Carl Michaud also said he was happy to see his daughter pursue her love of art through her dedication and hard work.

Paintings by Alexandra Michaud, ‘The Color Within’ (left) and ‘Moon Vision’, on display at the Wintergreen Arts Center. (Melissa Lizotte/The Star-Herald

“We’re very proud of her for continuing to try new things and get better and what she does,” he said.

Throughout the pandemic, Wintergreen has held several virtual or family First Friday gatherings, but this is the first they’ve opened to the public since the pandemic began.

Although the crowd of about 20 consisted mostly of close family members and friends, Dottie Hutchins, executive director of Wintergreen, sees the upcoming First Friday events as a way for Wintergreen to slowly get back to normal.

On April 2, local photographer and musician Janice Santos will showcase her work and perform, and on May 7, nearly Isle firefighter and paramedic Winston Reed will showcase his paintings. Shows and future First Friday events will be open to the public, though Wintergreen will still require masks and social distancing and adhere to state limits for indoor gatherings.

“It’s nice to welcome people. With more people vaccinated now, I think we can have small events on the first Friday as we start to see things get back to normal,” Hutchins said.

William E. Bennett