My quest for Maine artists and artisans started online — which quickly became overwhelming. I love the internet… but it’s a rabbit hole. So to clear my head I grabbed my coat, threw my purse over my shoulder and hit the streets of downtown Bangor. Reporter’s notebook in hand, of course.
And wow. Who needs the internet to find artists, really? It seems that in Maine, there’s always a passionate creator of things right around the corner.
I met a lot of super helpful people at the University of Maine Museum of Art, and, wonderfully enough, Central Street Farmhouse. Those guys are awesome. I popped into The Rock and Art Shop to discover the curator was out of town for a few weeks. But where I really lucked out was Maine Jewelry & Art, where artists Amanda Coburne, Anne Reigstad and Roxanne Munksgaard set up shop a little over four years ago. I started my true “Made in Maine” journey in their little downtown store this week.
To start: Roxanne. And the first thing you should know about her is that Roxanne is one spunky woman.
One fateful day over two yeas ago, Roxanne stopped dead on the street to observe roofers pulling down the copper dome of the Bangor library and “flipping it, okay, like New York pizza, okay?” She was so inspired and curious that she went straight inside to talk to someone about getting her hands on the stuff, saying, “I think I can make jewelry out of that.” Long story short, Roxanne’s fantastic lightbulb moment eventually led to one-of-a-kind works — including many collaborative works between her business partners — lines down the street from their store and “raging success.” Success that they’ve now extended to working with copper from the statehouse roof! How cool is that?
Roxanne assures me that they were the first in the state to do this, and that “extensive googling” has revealed that the concept is pretty unique throughout the nation as well. She says that people all over the world have ordered their jewelry, and suspects that people who used to live here just want “a little piece of Bangor with them.”
Meet Roxanne Munksgaard.
A bit more on Roxanne, for those who prefer text to video. Or who prefer solid backstory to my artsy artist videos.
Roxanne is New Yorker-Bostonian-Mainer with a personality as beautiful as the jewelry she crafts everyday from recycled copper of all sorts. She’s made jewelry since she was a young girl in 1969.
“I used to sell peace earrings on Brighton Beach, New York, okay, $3 a piece,” she told me with a sly grin. “And they were not sterling. Not one part of it.”
A self-declared “peacenik,” Roxanne spent years as a lobbyist and political activist, but now prefers to spend time working in her small studio space; sometimes with her business partners as company. She says having access to the womens’ combined equipment library and different areas of artistic experience has helped her do work she never had before. That being said, Roxanne prefers a bit of peace and quiet at this point in her craft and prefers not to take on students. I was a brief exception to the rule — for which I am grateful.
If you’re ever in Bangor for the day and looking for a cool selection of works by Maine artists, check out Maine Jewelry & Art. And be sure to spend some time chatting with Roxanne, or any of the other great women who own it. You absolutely won’t regret it.