GARDINER — Gardiner artists Matt Demers and Allison McKeen will kick off 2017 with their first open studio of the year from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22, on the third floor of 327 Water St. The free event will feature art, antique and vintage objects, camaraderie, food and drinks, and music by the The Sweet Beets, of Harpswell.

Demers and McKeen are both primarily self-taught mixed media artists working in their shared studio and gallery space according to a news release from McKeen.

Growing up in rural Maine, Demers has been creating artwork for as long as he can remember. He uses a wide variety of mediums and techniques often on unique surfaces such as tin ceiling panels or refrigerator doors. His background as a graphic designer, sign maker, embroiderer, screen printer, gravedigger and antiques dealer influences his work visually and conceptually.

“The biggest stylistic influences in my work come from my love for graffiti art and the old objects that I grew up surrounded by. I love the bold colors and forms of graffiti and the character and textures of old weathered items,” said Demers, according to the release.

McKeen’s work is largely inspired by the rural environment of her upbringing along the Kennebec River. She equates her creative process to the themes experienced while playing outdoors: observation and adventure.

“The less I plan my artwork, the more room there is for spontaneity, resourcefulness and problem-solving (or as I like to call it, “adventure.”) Each modification is contingent on the last while informing the next. The subject matter gravitates toward themes of stillness, comfort, and familiarity while the process provides the opposite experience. The materials I use are varied but I particularly enjoy integrating found papers such as maps, charts and how-to guides coupled with acrylic or watercolor paint. Each finished piece is a summary of the ups and downs, additions, and subtractions that are integral to the process,” she said, according to the release.

For more information, email McKeen at [email protected] or Demers at [email protected].