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Local artists experience unique way to make art

MADAWASKA, Maine — Artist Gerald Fongemie of the St. John Valley Artists group manifested art through an unusual technique Friday evening as part of “meet the artists” demonstration and reception.

Artists gather around Gerry Fongemie as he prepares for his acrylic paint pour at the meet the artists event Friday evening. (Morgan Mitchell | SJVT/FhF)

Artists of all different backgrounds gathered at the St. John Valley Chamber of Commerce to nosh on cheese and fruits and sip wine while admiring the art on the walls before Fongemie’s demonstration.

Fongemie began his “paint pour” by squeezing acrylic paint into tiny cups and adding a mixing medium to each color to get a flowing consistency. “Everybody’s got a different recipe,” Fongemie said about the numerous types of mixing mediums out there. “Some can even use glue.”

The table was leveled and four medium-sized cups supported the four corners of the canvas board. Then the fun began. With five different paint cups, Fongemie asked people to tell him which colors to pour into a larger cup. White, magenta, orange, yellow, green… One by one, he layered the paints, building the suspense for the big flip.

Finally, he placed the canvas board face down on top of the cup and inverted them in one smooth motion. He called it the “flip cup” technique. He pulled the cup off of the board, and the paint washed over the canvas like magma flowing from a volcano. He tilted the canvas to coat the entire surface and then grabbed a torch. He held the torch 10 inches from the paint and lit it as what he called cells began to form at the surface of the paint.

The result was a colorful marbled piece that Fongemie said could never be identically replicated. “Each pour is unique and different,” he said.

After the cup is flipped, Gerry Fongemie allows it to sit for a few minutes before picking up the cup. (Morgan Mitchell | SJVT/FhF)

The St. John Valley Chamber of Commerce has housed the art gallery since the group started, according to Julie Lang, St. John Valley Artists founder. She added that they had a grant to help get them going.

“We are trying to promote the artists as much as possible, especially for the young people,” Lang said. “Gerry is doing a great job, and we are doing our best to keep it going.”

Lang also encouraged that it is never too late to begin or continue. “Don’t ever give it up. Age has nothing to do with it.”

For more information on joining the St. John Valley Artists, visit their Facebook page.

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