GARDINER — Allison McKeen and Matt Demers stood in their third-floor studio space on Water Street Sunday afternoon, surrounded by the things they have a passion for.

Even on a cloudy day, light shines through the south-facing windows to highlight the signs that line the walls and their collections — vintage thermoses and historic coffee tins to name two — that are the result of forays for antiques and other things.

But the centerpiece of the space is their art. And that’s what they invited the public to see at the Winter Doldrums Open Studio and Sale.

“We want to meet new people,” McKeen, 23, said.

This was not their first open studio. They have taken part in the Gardiner Art Walks, held on the first Friday of May, August and December annually. And if they’re working in the studio, they’ll put their “open studio” sign out on the sidewalk, and friends tend to stop by.

But Sunday was the first time they have issued a broad invitation to an event that also would feature a performance by the Sweet Beets, an acoustic duo who are friends.

“We like when people see our work,” Demers, 26, said. “We like to hang out with creative people and get their feedback.”

“We hope people come and interact with us,” McKeen said.

The open studio marks the first time that McKeen will have displayed her anatomical hearts, a series of pieces she has been working on for nearly three years. They show a human heart in different settings.

McKeen said she wanted them seen all together at once for the first time.

“Otherwise,” she said, “they’re in my closet.”

Demers’ abstract mixed media paintings, like McKeen’s work, includes something else they are also passionate about — paper, which is among the other things they have found while poking through antique stores, and it figures in both their works.

“It’s something we find so much of,” Demers, who also works for a sign company, said.

Part of the attraction, McKeen said, is its texture and characteristics.

Although they work in the same space, they have never consciously collaborated on a piece, but they will offer their thoughts on the other’s work.

Both artists have roots in the area. McKeen grew up along the banks of the Kennebec River in Dresden and Demers grew up in Whitefield. They now call Gardiner, which they consider a vibrant, welcoming and underrated place, home.

The city and its history also figure in their studio. The anteroom is given over to signs, advertising pieces and other items that link to the city that they found on their travels in Maine and beyond.

Outside of the studio, Demers has 17 paintings at MaineGeneral Medical Center that will be on display until March 3. Six more pieces will be in the Clio Art Fair, which is billed as the anti-fair for independent artists. It runs March 2-5 in New York City.

McKeen, who is also a photographer, said she works at a couple of galleries and deadlines tend to slip past. She has shown her work in a joint show with Demers in Portland and at Monkitree, located just down Water Street from their studio.

As people were starting to make their way up to the studio, they said they were hoping to network and build some new relationships.

“We just like to have people come and hang out,” Demers said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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