Institute hopes Peaks Island homes will draw artists

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 PORTLAND — There’s a place on Peaks Island where an organization dedicated to all forms of illustration hopes artists will get the picture.

“This has all happened very, very quickly and is terribly exciting to us,” Illustration Institute co-founder Scott Nash said last month about the Faison Creative Residency, set to begin June 24 and run through Sept. 30.

With two houses, a shed and a 900-square-foot stone garage, the residency is set to welcome all manner of creativity, while also providing workshops and instruction from a talented roster of illustrators.

Nash said John Faison, husband of the late Marilyn Faison, offered the property for the residency.

Marilyn Faison, who died in 2015, went from her native Iowa to the Rhode Island School of Design, then on to New York City and a global design career shared with her husband.

“She was well known for her vibrant spirit and love for antiques, red shoes and modern art. The residency is intended to honor her legacy and celebrate creativity in all forms,” Nancy Gibson Nash, institute programming director, said in a press release.

A dozen years ago, Scott Nash established the illustration program at the Maine College of Art, but the Illustration Institute has been more of a movable canvas. The main office sits above Three Dollar Dewey’s on Commercial Street, but the art is more often created elsewhere.

“I have an unabashed love for illustration as an art form, so I founded this free-range learning program,” Nash said. “It is incredible how many illustrators there are in Maine, at least along the coast.”

The houses on Peaks will provide creative tranquility for those who would like to rent them for $1,000 a week, while the Illustration Institute has a “soft launch” with the six-week Maine Children’s Book Arts program, Nash said.

Program details are still being worked out; Nash said much of the schedule will depend on the availability of artists, including Emily Flake, Chris Vandusen, Chris Raschka and Henrik Drescher.

Flake is a New Yorker contributor. Raschka and Vandusen are Caldecott Medal winners, an award given to illustrators of children’s literature. Drescher has been honored twice by the Society of Illustrators.

Bringing the residency to Peaks Island is a continuation of the outreach programs Nash and other illustrators have taken on the road to Fort Collins, Colorado; Asheville, North Carolina, and Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, he said.

It is also a way to expand on what began as exhibitions of illustrators, including Maurice Sendak (“Where the Wild Things Are”) and Edward Gorey at the Portland Public Library, to which Nash recently added workshops, films and lectures.

“We work with libraries and cultural institutions around the country; we don’t have a physical space except for the residencies,” Nash said. “What we are doing here in Portland is an extended version of what we do in other places.”

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

One of two homes that will be open in the Faison Creative Residency on Peaks Island from June 24 to Sept. 30

The interior of one of two homes available for rent from June 24 to Sept. 30 on Peaks Island as part of the Faison Creative Residency.

Seclusion and tranquility are offered to artists and writers renting one of two houses available for the Faison Creative Residency on Peaks Island from June 24 to Sept. 30.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.