Portland gallery to donate funds to programs for women, girls

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PORTLAND — Saturday, May 6, will not be the first time Running with Scissors Art Studios has opened its doors to the public.

But this year’s 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Spring for Women exhibit and open house at 250 Anderson St. merges art and action to help four city nonprofits while offering locally made art as Mother’s Day gifts.

“We are focusing on the interplay between artists, activists and community in the way we know how,” Running With Scissors owner Kate Anker said April 26.

Most directly, 50 percent of sales from the curated gallery exhibit will be donated.

Included are:

•  In Her Presence, based in Holy Trinity Greek Church at 133 Pleasant St. Founded and operated by immigrant women, the program looks to connect them “through creating spaces that support women’s empowerment and personal ambitions without losing our unique identity,” according to its website.

• A Company of Girls, an award-winning, free after school theater and arts program for girls ages 8-18 at 671 Forest Ave. It was established in 1995.

• Maine Family Planning, based in Augusta. The organization has 18 health care centers throughout the state offering reproductive health care services, contraceptives, STD/HIV testing and treatment, and pregnancy counseling and related services.

• Hardy Girls Healthy Women, a Waterville-based program that “takes girls seriously and puts the power in their hands to challenge a society that ignores their brilliance,” according to its mission statement.

Anita Holt, who sculpts and paints in a studio at Running With Scissors, said the benefit is needed because of the tenor of the times.

“Women are a little up in arms now, and we need to do something about it,” she said.

Anker joined Running With Scissors 11 years ago and has owned it for six years. She makes prints and works with other mixed media, and said some of the more than 30 artists on hand for the studio tours accompanying the exhibit will also be contributing sale proceeds to causes of their own choosing.

Now based in a former warehouse that was later home to Catholic Charities of Maine, Running With Scissors first opened 14 years ago and has been an East Bayside fixture almost the entire time.

It is a for-profit venture, renting studio space to more than 50 artists working across a wide span of media. Running With Scissors is home to the Bayside Clay Center and has woodworking equipment and a print shop.

“I do it to lead by example. It can be beneficial to think of yourself as a small business,” Anker said.

The studios are open all day, every day, to the extent Anker said she has had to tell police that late night activities there are usually artists at work, not burglaries or other mayhem.

“It is a community, and artists don’t often have community,” Jo Goiran said April 26 as she covered a 4-foot tall canvas in orange to begin a new painting. Behind her was a 3-foot by 6-foot completed painting inspired by tree tops near Sebago Lake that will be part of the exhibit.

Goiran painted in a corridor, as her studio space was filled with sculptures of metal salvaged nearby, including one she has called “The Duchess of Junk.”

“We have our art out in the open and we talk to each other,” she said.

Anker said the discussions are also about the practicalities of being in business as an artist. 

Running With Scissors may be an East Bayside anchor, set in the rising tide of development that has brought bagels, beers, coffee beans and new housing to the neighborhood roughly bounded by Marginal Way, Franklin Street and Cumberland and Washington avenues.

Anker said Running With Scissors needs to stay in the neighborhood.

“We are a cluster of smaller businesses, but they are viable in the community,” she said.

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

Jo Goiran begins a new painting April 26 at Running With Scissors. Behind her is one that will be on display and for sale May 6 during a fundraiser for four local nonprofits.

Artist Anita Holt and Running With Scissors owner Kate Anker chat April 26 near four high-heel “shoes” Holt sculpted to represent signs “of power and submission.”

Running With Scissors Arts Studios, 250 Anderson St., will host an exhibit and fundraiser 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, May 6.

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.