Dancing into summer

Goat Yoga
July 5, 6, 8, 12, 26
All those Instagram photos of women in yoga clothes holding baby goats making you jealous? You’ve got five chances this month to try it out at Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook. Instructor Ashley Flowers will lead Goat Yoga ($20) in the evenings of July 5, 6, 8, 12 and 26, visit ashleyflowersyoga.com for specifics and signup. Smiling Hill is at 781 County Road (Route 22), Westbrook. Get there early and hit the farm store for the farm’s glass-bottled milk in coffee, chocolate and strawberry flavors. (800–743–7463; smilinghill.com)

Yarmouth Clam Festival
July 19–21
It’s time for the Yarmouth Clam Festival, a summer tradition since 1965. Dozens of nonprofits serve up seafood, fair food, lime rickeys and homemade pie. There are carnival rides and games. There’s a parade. But most important, there’s Greg Brady. That’s right, Barry Williams, the actor who played the eldest of the Brady Bunch, will serve as the marshal at the parade Friday night at 6. Not into Greg? There’s live music on multiple stages over the weekend and fireworks Saturday night. (clamfestival.com)

Toni Morrison Documentary
July 19–21, 24
The Portland Museum of Art is screening a deep documentary dive into the life of writer Toni Morrison, showing the film The Pieces I am five times this month. The film follows Morrison from her childhood in an Ohio steel town through her 1970s book tours with Muhammad Ali and activism with Angela Davis and her teaching career at Princeton University. Not to mention discussions of seminal novels Beloved and Song of Solomon. Screenings at 2 and 6 p.m. on July 19; 2 p.m. on July 20–21 and 24. (portlandmuseum.org)

Summer Session on the Seaside
July 27
Summer Session, the Maine Brewers’ Guild Summer Beer Festival, is Maine’s biggest beerfest, with over 100 breweries represented, most from Maine. It’s right on the water at Fort Preble (on the Southern Maine Community College campus) in South Portland July 27, with tickets sold for either the noon to 3 p.m. session or the 5–8 p.m. sunset session. Expect food trucks, live music and free parking. Tickets are $49/$65 at the gate or in advance (eventbrite.com).

Open Farm Day
July 28
Did you know that Maine has 7,600 farms, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, and that 4,107 of them feature a principal producer who is a woman? Here’s your chance to get to meet some of them. Every year the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry asks Maine farms to throw open their doors to the public. This is your day to peek into the inner workings of your favorite farm. Want a particularly pretty visit? Try Stacy Brenner’s flower farms at Broadturn in Scarborough or Carolyn Snell’s in Buxton. Check for participating farms at maine.gov/dacf.


How Shoshana Currier is shaking up the Bates Dance Festival

Shoshana Currier. Photo by Heidi Kirn

“This morning I was making a moose roast,” says Shoshana Currier, the new(ish) director of the Bates Dance Festival. “Or it might be a deer roast.” This may not be what you expect to hear from the director of a major dance festival, but Currier is perhaps not your average contemporary dance expert.

Born in Fort Kent, Currier is the granddaughter of a hunting guide. She grew up in Portland and Windham from middle school through high school. The job at Bates enabled her to return home after about 20 years away, which included studies at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, New School University and the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance at Wesleyan University. Most recently, she was the director of performing arts for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events for five years. And that was great, but Maine was calling. “I had been looking for ways to come back,” Currier says. She visited Maine in the summer and her mother would come every year for a week, helping her with her three children (boy-girl twins, 6, and a son, 8). But she wanted to be closer to the community she grew up in. Some of her family are still in The County (and they hunt, hence the roast, which she concludes after closer inspection, must be deer; too small to be moose). “And getting to Chicago from Aroostook County is not easy.”

Photo courtesy of Bates Dance Festival

Nor is finding a job in the performing arts in Maine. So when she learned that Laura Faure, the director of the Bates festival since 1987, would be leaving in 2017, Currier leapt at the opportunity. This summer’s festival is the first that Currier has been solely responsible for. The most obvious change she has made is sharpening its focus from a series that unfolds over the course of a summer season to a nine-day festival (July 25–Aug. 3). “It felt a little bit diffuse,” Currier says. The longer workshops for young dancers continue, but she’s also brought some new elements into the festival, which was founded in 1983 by the late Bates dance professor Marcy Plavin. Currier asked if she could take over Bates’ ongoing but formerly unrelated Concerts on the Quad series and is incorporating dance lessons into those concerts. The festival will leave Lewiston for an outdoor dance party—rolling through the streets—in Portland on Aug. 2 during First Friday. There are also two breakout events at mid-month in Lewiston, including a concert on July 12 pairing the hip-hop/soul duo The Reminders with hip-hop dance duo Mama2 and DJ Man-O-Wax.

Contemporary dance is often the forgotten performing art, Currier says. It might seem intimidating but it shouldn’t be; after all, so many people dance socially. “I really believe that the festival needs to have so many points of access,” Currier says. “It can’t just be about selling people a ticket to sit in a dark theater and watch a show. We are part of Bates but we are also part of this community.” And now, so is she. Full schedule batesdancefestival.org.
—Mary Pols


Maud Briggs Knowlton on Monhegan in 1897, photographed by her husband Edward. Image courtesy of the Monhegan Museum of Art & History

A Life Made in Art: Maud Briggs Knowlton, a retrospective of the works of the Arts and Craft era painter, museum director and summer resident of Monhegan Island, opens July 1 at the Monhegan Museum of Art & History. Knowlton (1870–1956) first came to Monhegan in the 1890s, an era when the island was in its early days as artists’ muse and subject. She and her husband Edward initially stayed in hotels on the island, but in 1921 built a cottage and studio (which she christened “Candlelight”). Both of them found artistic inspiration on Monhegan for nearly five decades, she painting the houses, gardens and seascapes while he made photographs of the fishermen and island residents (there were only about 94 then who lived there year round). Knowlton had started her career as a china painter, a traditional medium for women at that time, and she was one of the first women, if not the first, to start painting on Monhegan.

The exhibit includes more than 40 watercolors, oils, etchings, drawings and painted porcelain from Knowlton’s time on Monhegan and also in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she taught art at the Manchester Institute of the Arts for many years. Knowlton became the first director of the Currier Gallery of Art in 1929. She served in that position for 17 years. Among her many accomplishments was recognizing Andrew Wyeth’s talent when he was just 21, giving him his first museum exhibition in 1939 at what is now the Currier Museum of Art. She also included many of the artists inspired by Monhegan in group exhibitions there, including George Bellows, Andrew Winter, Jay Hall Connaway, Leo Meissner and Frederick J. Waugh.

Hilltop Garden, Monhegan, by Maud Briggs Knowlton. Image courtesy of the Monhegan Museum of Art & History

The retrospective also includes many of Edward Knowlton’s photographs. It will run through Sept. 30 and will move to the Currier in Manchester, where it will be shown from Feb. 20 to May 20, 2020. The Monhegan Museum of Art & History is in Monhegan Island Light Station and is open daily through Sept. 30. Sounds like a great reason to hop on a boat for a trip to one’s Maine’s most beautiful islands. (monheganmuseum.org)

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