AUGUSTA — Peter Precourt sees potential in the tiny vacant storefront at 265 Water St.

That’s why he’s rented the space for his gallery, Pop-Up 265.

“Even if it doesn’t go,” Precourt said, “it’s a small investment in the greater art community.”

And it’s a chance, he said, for people to see there is a financial and economic value to the creative economy beyond the aesthetic value.

Precourt’s plan is fairly simple. About once a month, an artist will install work in the space. The gallery won’t be open regular hours, but thanks to the large storefront window, people will be able to stop by and see the work from the sidewalk outside at any time. Artists can host openings — one at midday for the downtown work crowd and a second one in the evening to catch the leisure crowd.

The idea is a direct outgrowth of the Raw Space: Art Walk on May 13 put on by the Augusta Downtown Alliance.


“It wasn’t a part of the initial plan, but it was a happy outcome,” Augusta Downtown Alliance Executive Director Michael Hall said. “My goal was to have people see what the buildings look like filled.”

Precourt, who had work displayed at the art walk a few doors down from 265 Water St., said he noticed a lot more people downtown during the event.

“There was a different energy on the street,” he said. “It wasn’t mobbed, but you had to look for a parking space.”

Precourt, who is a professor of art at the University of Maine at Augusta and has a studio and a gallery in Winthrop, said downtown Augusta has a number of empty storefronts, but 265 Water St. feels more like a gallery to him than any other space on the street.

“I have been tinkering with how to put art in a space, to have a place for the community to see what’s going on,” he said.

Clinton Pettengill can get behind that. Pettengill, a recent UMA graduate with a bachelor’s degree in art, is the first artist who will install a piece in the space.


“I have been making art since I opened my eyes,” he said.

With a July 8 opening planned, he has only a couple of weeks to get it in place. The Winthrop artist and carpenter has not yet named the piece.

“It reflects my working relationship with my father” and is a visual representation of technology and growing up with video games in rural Maine, he said.

It will employ commonly used construction materials such as ladders, staging and planks. The staging that’s used resonated with the game Donkey Kong and as it happens, he said, his father looks a lot like a Mario character.

People will be able to watch his progress as Pettengill assembles his piece.

While he’s working that out, he’ll be helping Precourt get organized and do some minor work in the space to get it ready.


Precourt said Pettengill is the first artist because he’s worked in construction and the rough nature of the space will not detract from his work.

“In many ways he was making the idea work for this space before I acquired it,” he said.

The pop-up concept has been used frequently in retail, with shops that are launched with little notice and a short lifespan.

The same concept also has been applied to galleries, which make use of vacant spaces to display art.

And even though it’s a bit ephemeral in nature, Precourt still has a business objective, modest though it may be. His aim to support the gallery is to take a 15 percent cut of anything that’s sold there — far less than the more common 40 percent or 50 percent — to cover his expenses.

Precourt, whose own work includes collaborative projects with other artists and a graphic novel series of his family’s experiences in Gulfport, Louisiana, during Hurricane Katrina, said the gallery’s name reflects his awareness that things are often temporary, and that also could apply to the gallery. He pays a nominal rent and is on a month-to-month agreement with his landlord.


“I hope to be there for a good amount of time,” he said. “I would like it to last a year, but I would love to see it go to November.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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