FARMINGTON — White walls, frames, track lighting — all are components of traditional art galleries. But for street artists such as Portland-based Pigeon, the traditional is far from the way they want their art to be seen.

“What I do is street art. I tell it in an environment,” said Pigeon, whose given name is Orson Horchler. “It starts on the buildings in the streets, and it dies on the buildings in the streets. I don’t believe that you have to have an art degree to understand art. I want anybody on the street to respond to it.

“It’s really important to bring art to a level where you don’t have to put on nice shoes to walk into a gallery.”

On Saturday, Pigeon will join other street and modern artists in turning the streets and alleys of downtown Farmington into an art space as part of the first annual Water Bear Confabulum. The alternative arts festival will feature a range of artists working with several media and encourages onlookers to re-envision the everyday surroundings of downtown through art.

“We have been wanting to do something with street art for a long time. We’ve got these great alleys, and we thought to make these spaces really strange and interesting by putting art in them,” said Sarah Meline, of the University of Maine at Farmington Art Gallery.

The event will take place from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday in locations throughout downtown with exhibits and workshops tucked into the nooks of Farmington’s alleys. The festival is presented by the UMF Art Gallery, the Arts Institute of Western Maine and the Farmington Downtown Business Association.


Several media will collaboratively turn the downtown into an urban-space gallery for modern art that eventgoers can walk through — featuring two-dimensional, video, sculpture and sound exhibits, Meline said.

“One of my motivations is that we’re showing contemporary art all the time at the UMF Gallery, but it’s hard to get townspeople onto campus for that,” Meline said.

Pigeon, a Portland-based street artist and activist, is the featured guest of the Confabulum’s inaugural year. He will install a temporary mural on the Church Street-facing outer wall of Java Joe’s using a wheat-paste process that protects the building and the environment by using a natural process to stick printed artwork posters to an exterior surface. Pigeon said that depending on the elements and the surface the mural is being adhered to, it could last several months or years.

The mural will be an extension of Pigeon’s “Mainers” project, a portrait series of Mainers who come from other countries. “I think with the term ‘Mainer,’ it is used to describe people who are here for many generations. … When I walk around Portland and look at my life, I think Maine is a lot richer than that,” Pigeon said.

According to his Facebook page, Pigeon’s art “deals with the problem of feeling at home in one’s environment” and seeks to “create community by confronting the customs, people, laws, institutions, (and) companies that tell us the place we live in is not our home.”

Pigeon says that the Confabulum will be his first time in Farmington, and he’s excited as a city-based artist to bring his artistic concepts and message farther afield in the state.


“It’s going to be fun to be in a new place. I really started (“Mainers”) in Portland, where I know what the diversity is,” Pigeon said. “So I think it is going to be interesting to bring it to a more rural area.”

He will also host a wheat-paste workshop for children at 3 p.m. in the alley next to the Homestead Cafe and Bakery on Main Street, where they will create their own drawings and paintings to be hung in the alleys.

The usual November First Friday art walk is being postponed until Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. to coincide with the festival, allowing traditional and contemporary art to be showcased in the same vicinity.

“We wanted to create a conversation between different kinds of arts. The traditional art exhibits common to downtown are great,” Meline said.

In light of the festival coinciding with Halloween, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. a Trick-or-Treat Trail will be woven into the alleys, where UMF students will be dressed in costumes handing out treats and candy by the art exhibits. Shops and restaurants along Main Street and Broadway also will be participating in the trail.

According to a news release, the name of the festival, Water Bear, comes from the common name for a tardigrade, a micro-animal that resides in water and is able to adapt to extreme environments. Confabulum combines the two meanings of the word “confabulation” — to engage in conversation and the brain’s ability to generate imaginary experiences to replace a loss of memory.


Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate


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