Portland venue creating new ways to use its 'Space'

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PORTLAND — There is no time for Space this month, but the arts venue at 538 Congress St. will reopen with new dimensions next month.

“This is a chance to do physical improvements, a whole bunch of things at once,” interim Executive Director Gibson Fay-LeBlanc said March 3.

The gallery closed March 8 and will reopen in time for the First Friday Art Walk on April 7, a hiatus from a schedule that normally features 200 events and 15 art exhibits annually.

Some changes reflect a sign of the times, including a new box office kiosk allowing staff to process credit cards at the door.

“We had to send customers to the bar to pay by credit card,” Fay-LeBlanc said.

Sound and lighting will be upgraded in the main ground floor exhibit and performance area.

“We are working with a lighting system that is 10 years old if not more,” Fay-LeBlanc said.

Space will have an enlarged room for video, sound and pop-up art installations, built because artists are using those media more. Wi-Fi reception will also be improved throughout the entire building, Fay-LeBlanc said.

Space landed on Congress Street in 2002, and the nonprofit bought the building in 2015.

“Buying the building was a huge accomplishment, an ongoing question is, how do we share of all of it with Portland,” Fay-LeBlanc said.

Once a hotel for traveling salesmen, the upstairs rooms in Space are now occupied by Pickwick Independent Press and artists’ studios.

“We are very much in the midst of thinking, how to do we integrate the immense amount of activities upstairs?” Fay-LeBlanc said. “We want to help the artists get their work out in the world.”

The April 7 public re-opening will feature “Black Ice,” an exhibit by Shoshannah White and Charley Young about life above the Arctic Circle, and flags, banners, and signs from the Jan. 21 Women’s March.

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

Space Gallery at 538 Congress St. is closed for the month for interior renovations and upgrades. It will reopen April 7 for the First Friday Art Walk.

Inside Space Gallery there will be more room for sound, video and pop-up exhibits when the gallery opens in time for First Friday.

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.