After traveling between the same four buildings across one main quad for the first two weeks of school, it’s easy to forget that there’s a town beyond Bowdoin. Brunswick is home to over 20,000 residents who live, work and, sometimes, make art here.
The Brunswick Business Center, located at 18 Pleasant St., looks like a traditional red brick home. Today, however, it serves as an office space for many individuals and small businesses—as well as the gallery space for a group of Brunswick-based artists who call themselves the Points of View Artists.
The Points of View Artists is primarily composed of retirees; some have lived in Brunswick their whole lives while others, like Barbara Snapp, have permanently retired to their former summer homes. Snapp is one of the original members of Points of View Artists and now runs the group’s website and much of their public relations.
“I promised myself I would take some art classes when I retired,” said Snapp. “I thought being able to represent what you see and put your emotions into it …sounded neat to me.”
Snapp, a former teacher of Advanced Placement (AP) Biology in Palo Alto, California, soon found herself in Kathie Boldt’s drawing class at Merrymeeting Adult Education in Topsham.
Between 2003 and 2004, a group of graduates from Boldt’s art classes decided to continue meeting regularly to critique each other’s work and practice art together. This group of former novices have gone on to show and sell their work in the halls of the Brunswick Business Center after one of their members was asked to do so by the owner of the building, Art Boulay.
If you were to enter the Brunswick Business Center expecting to find an airy, well-lit gallery space, you would be surprised to instead find a number of individual office rooms that shoot off a narrow hallway. But lining these hallways from the first to third floor of the center are a great number of art pieces, including paintings, prints and pottery.
By simply walking through the gallery, Snapp can identify the works of each artist—for example, the woman who primarily works with pens, and the woman who does abstract pottery.
Putting together the display is a creative and collaborative process in itself, Snapp said.
“People bring their work in, and we spread it all over the table. We make a show out of what people bring in,” she said.
There is no curator or owner of the Points of View Gallery. The artists gather together and go through the process of deciding on a new theme. While displays are changed every month during the summer, once September hits, pieces will only be changed once or twice before May.
The artists must also navigate a variety of challenges, the most important of which is their advancing age.
One member of the group needs hearing aids and will speak out in the middle of a conversation, and one is a 90-year-old woman who lives further from Brunswick and is becoming increasingly difficult to reach.
Snapp joked, “Running our monthly meetings is kind of like herding cats.”
Snapp remains grateful for Boulay’s generosity in providing a space for the artists to show and sell their work for free.
“We’re continuing to be creative,” said Snapp. “The main thing is that we have fun.”