In the year since he installed his first wheat paste piece in Gardiner, Kerstin Gilg has gained some hard-won wisdom.

“I learned I don’t like to work on the second and third stories,” Gilg said. “This year, we’re only going up two stories, tops.”

Gilg and Winthrop artist Peter Precourt were the creative force behind the image of poet E.A. Robinson, rendered in paper and applied to the back of 277 Water St. with wheat paste along with this quote: “I shall have more to say after I am dead.” Robinson, who grew up in Gardiner, won the Pulitzer Prize three times during the 1920s for his work.

This year, Gilg’s work — three versions of Robinson’s eyes — is joined by the paper and wheat paste work of five other artists, all part of Artdogs Studios as part of its 10th annual Variations exhibition. They are using buildings in Gardiner’s historic downtown for their work.

When he introduced the concept to the Gardiner City Council a year ago, Gilg said his piece might last two years, depending on the weather.

That was another lesson Gilg learned.


The wheat paste installations were always intended to be transitory. Wheat paste has been used by artists for centuries as an adhesive.

During the summer, a sturgeon went up on the side of Dennis’ Pizza.

But rather than let the images weather away — a process that might take months — Gilg said he’s learned it’s important to have a realistic idea of a de-installation project.

“I didn’t have any idea of how long E.A. Robinson or the sturgeon would last,” he said. “I wanted them to be seen and appreciated in a complete way and not, ‘it must have been a nice piece four months ago.'”

So Robinson came down in the fall, while the sturgeon stayed up during the winter. Gilg said it didn’t last well.

This year’s pieces, installed ahead of the first Gardiner Artwalk on May 5, are the work of Karen Adrienne, John Carnes, Gilg, Scott King, Scott Mimzy and Tyson Pease. Last year’s sturgeon was Mimzy’s work. Anyone who stopped by the Artdogs Studios were encouraged to venture into the Arcade parking lot to take a look. Others got their first view of them as they parked in the lot.


Later this year, the Circling the Square Fine Art Press will host a gallery exhibit where people can meet the artists and talk about their work.

Gilg said they’ll be up until at least October, unless bad weather advances the expected deterioration.

In some crazy way, he said, people value the work more because it’s temporary.

Wheat paste projects like these fall generally under the umbrella of guerrilla art, but there is a distinguishing feature.

“Guerrilla artists put it up there and it’s not their problem any more,” Gilg said. “It’s a gift whether anyone wants it or not. But here, we want to make sure it’s appreciated and seen in a positive way.”

A second round of installations may take place in June before the Greater Gardiner River Festival. That will depend on whether the people who said they were interested in making a piece follow through. To take part, artists need to secure the permission of the building owner and submit an image for committee review by May 22. Technical assistance in scaling the work up, getting it printed and making the adhesive is available.


“Maybe there won’t be any new installations, but we hope they will be enthusiastic and will participate,” he said.

If no new art goes up in Gardiner, fans of wheat paste art will get a chance to see more examples in July in Waterville ahead of the Maine International Film Festival.

Gilg has been talking to officials at Waterville Creates! about an installation there.

Shannon Haines, Waterville Creates! president and CEO, said her organization embraced the idea.

“They have outlined some of the buildings they want to work with,” she said.

The goal is to have 10 pieces throughout Waterville’s downtown that will be in place through September.


“We know generally we’re asking artists to respond with reinterpretations of historic images of Waterville,” Haines said. “We’re trying to make sure we have some nice public art in place for the summer.”

In addition to the film festival, Waterville hosts a summer concert series and Taste of Waterville.

Haines said the temporary nature is appealing. It’s unlike any other public art in Waterville and it can be refreshed every year.

After his initial piece went up in Gardiner, Gilg said based on his experience with public art, he expected some people would be upset or misinformed about the nature of the work.

“We had tremendous positive responses to the work,” he said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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