Why The Chart?

Why The Chart?

In 2014, the problem became noticeable: Portland fine art galleries were closing, First Friday Art Walk was blurring the line between supporting artists or supporting restaurants, and gentrification came a-creeping. Many artists began to wonder, Where will I show my work? How could their work propel our community forward if there were so few spaces to contemplate and critique their work? Worse yet, with the influx of wealthy individuals increasing the cost of living (and thus the rent of studios), how could they find spaces in which to create their work?

Since becoming a Maine resident in 2012, I’ve been fascinated with these problems, often writing online to create dialogues with other artists. I quickly realized, however, that my voice alone was not enough to create measurable change. Something larger was needed — something that could engage the community in a meaningful conversation about Portland’s artists and Maine’s art scene at large.

Inspired by the models of Chicago Artist Writers and BURNAWAY (Atlanta, GA), I wanted to create a publishing model that would best serve Portland’s artistic needs. After all, Chicago Artist Writers and BURNAWAY have created tremendous change within their respective cities, so why couldn’t a similar model do the same for Portland?

Two brains are better than one!

Enter, Jenna Crowder. Jenna and I were introduced in the fall of 2014, and it became immediately apparent that we shared an enthusiasm for arts in Maine. We both knew that what we envisioned for Maine’s art community would be better if we went at it together.

After many brainstorming sessions and research, Jenna and I put our thoughts on paper and applied for a $5,000 grant from the Kindling Fund — and we got it! Thanks to that grant from the Kindling Fund and support from the Maine Arts Commission, we are able to launch this website today. Furthermore, we are proud to say that every contributor is paid a competitive stipend for the content they create and contribute to The Chart, thanks to that funding.

A little bit about The Chart, now and future

So, what’s The Chart really about?

  • Contributors will write and document Maine art and artists, placing the work and history in a context that is unique to Maine. They will also investigate work from national and international communities, thus making visible the vast network of thoughts, themes, and ideas that artists are grappling with, regardless of geography or market.
  • Through our publication of essays, reviews, interviews, and features on spaces, practices, initiatives, projects, opportunities, and events, The Chart will act as a living archive of Maine’s contemporary art history.
  • In addition to providing high-­quality arts journalism, we promise to work with arts professionals to create opportunities for dialogue, education, and feedback necessary for a thriving arts community. These events and opportunities include community gatherings, internships, and workshops on arts writing, contextualizing work, and understanding the art market.

So, what’s next?

The Chart aims to publish 10 issues per year and — provided we can raise the funds — an annual print anthology. We are currently working on a to-do list which will feature a calendar of arts and cultural events in and around Maine worth seeing. We are excited to share the journey of The Chart with you and so happy you are here to share in celebrating our first issue. Welcome!

– Ashleigh (& Jenna)


Ashleigh Burskey

Ashleigh is an Entrepreneurial Artist and Cofounder of The Chart and BUROKO.

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