The first biennial Hallowell Granite Symposium will take place September 2021 at Stevens Commons in Hallowell in partnership with the Maine Stone Workers Guild. Six of Maine’s most notable sculptors will transform Hallowell granite into works of art inspired by one of the four “Maine200” Bicentennial themes over the ten day event.
The public will be invited to interact with the artists on site at Stevens Commons daily between 10am and 4pm and to watch the sculptures develop over time. Visitors will vote for their favorite sculpture and one work of art will be selected to commemorate the Maine State Bicentennial as permanent public art. The other sculptures will remain at Stevens Commons or be placed elsewhere in the city to be offered for sale on behalf of the artists through Hallowell Arts & Cultural Committee (HACC).
Hallowell Granite Symposium will bring the art of stone carving back to Hallowell to educate and engage our citizenry, and reintroduce granite sculpture to our public spaces as permanent public art that reflects back on Hallowell’s history for current and future generations.
A presentation on the history of the granite industry in Hallowell will formally launch the symposium, including an illustrated timeline depicting the introduction, expansion and ultimate decline of the granite industry. A history booth at the symposium will feature tools and other artifacts from the granite industry.
The Hallowell Historic Committee is working on a new multimedia presentation expanding on the current online exhibit on Maine Memory Network “Solid Foundations – Lasting Legacies” which was created in 2010 with Hall-Dale Middle School students & faculty. New topics will include the architectural heritage of Hallowell granite, the impact of immigrant workers and their families on the character of Hallowell, and portraits of historic vs. modern carvers and techniques. The new program will be uploaded to the Maine State Library Digital Archive where it will be available for viewing anywhere at any time.
One well known example of Hallowell granite workers’ skill is “National Monument to the Forefathers“, a large scale sculpture located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. “Faith”, the central female figure is 36 feet tall and took a full year to carve in the Hallowell granite yards in the 1880s. One can imagine Hallowell citizens visiting regularly to watch Faith emerge from a massive block of granite. Hallowell Granite Symposium 2020 will offer an echo of that experience to citizens today.
To raise awareness the Hallowell Arts & Cultural Committee and Maine Stone Workers Guild jointly organized a “teaser” event last spring. Every weekend beginning in June 2019 and continuing into the fall, Maine Stone Workers Guild member Jon Doody of Augusta worked at carving a sturgeon out of reclaimed Hallowell granite to raise awareness for the planned symposium. The public was invited to visit Jon’s outdoor worksite at Stevens Commons in Hallowell every Saturday during the the Hallowell Farmers market, resulting in a welcoming, open, and creative community space. Jon’s work as artist in residency last year generated considerable interest in the upcoming Hallowell Granite Symposium.
As of late May 2020 Jon is back at work on the sculpture. Hallowell Farmers Market hours are 9am-noon. Jon’s hours may differ and are weather permitting. Please wear a mask and respect social distancing guidelines to keep our artist (and farmers) safe.
Here’s Jon Doody on why connection through the arts is an important and effective tool for building community:
“I had a lady stop by with two small kids this morning as I was setting up. We get to
talking, and she tells me that her family just moved to the area, and Hallowell in
particular because they were told by others about how “arts friendly” the town is. She
then goes on to say something like “And then there is this (pointing to my work), taking it
to a whole other level.” She asks the kids if they can tell what it is that I am making. One
says a whale, one says a dinosaur. Pretty close on either one. She used our project to
involve teaching her kids what goes into creating something like this. The lady tells me
that they had attended the event in Boothbay, saying that it would be nice if something
like that could be done in Hallowell. I told her to come back next year, we are working
— Jon Doody on Facebook, August 24, 2019