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Final funds push begins for South Portland oil terminal murals


Final funds push begins for South Portland oil terminal murals

SOUTH PORTLAND — Since late 2009, millions have driven, boated or flown by the Sprague Energy oil terminal in South Portland.

And all those passersby have had an eyeful of the geometric designs painted on the sides and tops of three giant fuel tanks.

Now the Maine Center for Creativity, the organization behind the highly visible display, is starting the last round of fundraising for the project, Art All Around. The goal is to raise the last $350,000; so far, MCC has raised more than $950,000.

Painting started at the oil terminal nearly two years ago, after Venezuelan artist Jaime Gil was named the winner of an international design contest. This month, a team of industrial painters from AMEX — a Worcester, Mass.-based painting company with an office in Portland — will begin painting another tank.

Jean Maginnis, founder and executive director for MCC, said when the project is complete it will be the world's largest piece of public art. Some 261,000 square feet of fuel tank will be covered in paint — eight full tanks and the tops of eight more. Maginnis said the project was designed with a Google Earth-level view in mind.

"Very interesting people have given to this project," Maginnis said, and not just in the hundreds of thousands of dollars donated. Web, design, writing, public relations and legal service providers have all donated countless hours of work toward the project, she said.

"This project has really engaged the community," Maginnis said.

Engagement is a central focus, for both the project and in Gili's design.

"Putting art and industry together makes for an unusual dichotomy that sparks more energy and economic revitalization," Maginnis said. "We can transform our community by putting art and industry together."

In 2009, Gili described his design as "like an explosion in your eye." Lines and colors intersect on a giant scale on the round canvases. As the observer moves around the work — by train, plane, boat or car — the shapes move and change.

"The shapes take a different perspective depending on where you are, how fast you're moving," Maginnis said. "The artist was very conscious of making a design that kept people engaged."

There is no deadline for Art All Around to be complete, Maginnis said. Fundraising will be one determining factor, but so will the weather. Rolf Westphal of Sprague Energy said it takes crews of painters four to six weeks to finish a tank, and humid weather causes problems.

But Maginnis is optimistic the funding will come through and the project will be completed.

"We think Maine is a place that values quality," she said.

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 106 or Follow Mario on Twitter: @riocarmine.