Dispatches from Maine: Lazer Hotel at the ICA


The Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA), which is embedded physically and pedagogically into the Maine College of Art (MECA), is one of the hubs for contemporary art in Portland, ME. Daniel Fuller directs the ICA with a laid back charm that camouflages the energy he puts into keeping the ICA programming whip-smart and bleeding edge. The ICA has three gallery spaces, and while all the exhibitions I saw (here) were excellent, I want to take this post to focus on their storefront gallery, which housed the Lazer Hotel. Concisely described on the ICA site,

The front gallery at the ICA has been transformed into a magazine office for a new project called the Lazer Hotel Magazine, a print publication created and printed by artists of The Art Department. From start to finish, they will create their first edition, working on content, organizing layout, writing, drawing, typing, mapping out, photographing, interviewing, critiquing, predicting horoscopes, making crossword puzzles, comic strips, printing and reproducing. You are welcome to step inside, ask questions, touch everything, and participate in the creative process.



There is a lot that isn’t spelled out here. First, Fuller invited the Publication Studio to come and set up shop in the storefront. Installing a DIY book publishing organization in an art gallery might have been edgy enough for some, but it seems the Publication Studio looked to the Portland community to find a more engaged mission for their project. Somewhere in their search they wandered into The Art Department , which the ICA describes as “a nonprofit outsider art gallery, working studio, screening space and retail store for artists with intellectual and developmental uniqueness in downtown Portland.”


Conceived of by Liz Mortati and Natalie Conn, The Art Department transforms two storefront spaces into an art studio/gallery and video production facility for artists with intellectual and developmental uniqueness. From their website:

The Art Department is the new location for Shoot Media Project and Open Studio.. Shoot Media Project is a multi-media program that makes video, photography, animation and design projects and co-creates a television show called, TV SHOW. In the new location, the program plans to have movie screenings, photo booths, and more space for production and editing. Open Studio works in many fine art mediums including painting and drawing, fabric arts, sculpture and design. Artists in the Open Studio program participate in First Friday Art walk exhibits and in the new location will be managing a store and curating a gallery space. The Art Department is a program of Creative Trails.

This is a lot of lead, but it seemed important to appreciate the utter brilliance of Publication Studio and The Art Department sharing resources to make something amazing.

Many more pictures of this amazing project after the jump.


Not really sure how this fits in.. but it’s kinda great.


More pictures of the editorial/bull pen/studio that is the storefront gallery of the ICA.





The Layout board.


The Publication Studio has taken over a corner of the gallery space with their equipment and bookstore.


And now we jump to the launch party.



This project represented an amazing convergence of hard work, talent, and good will from a host of different participants, and the community came out in droves to support the launch.



You can see how the map of Portland was used to track stories.





The walls were covered with a mix of framed and unframed art, as well as ephemera from the production process.




And copies of the publication were available for $20. You can probably get your own copy by contacting The Art Department or ICA.


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Categories: DIY, Interesting Printmaking

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