Arts and Culture

Arts and culture

PORTLAND, Maine - The same week the U.S. returned an early copy of a letter Christopher Columbus wrote to Italian authorities, the Osher Map Library at the University of Southern Maine says it holds a copy of the letter.

The explorer wrote the letter five centuries ago to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. Osher Map Library Director Ian Fowler says the edition at USM was printed in Basil, Switzerland in 1494, a year after Columbus wrote the letter to his patrons. Fowler says the edition the library holds is one of only 80 copies left.

QUEBEC CITY — A Maine boy’s guitar skills earned him a spot onstage with Pearl Jam.

Ten-year-old Noah Keeley of Bar Harbor, Maine, was invited onstage to play last week in Quebec City. He sat on a stool and played along with the Pearl Jam song, "Sad." Afterward, the band played a cover of Cheap Trick’s "Surrender" and dedicated it to Noah’s parents.

Lead singer Eddie Vedder had received an email from the boy’s parents requesting the song and included clips of Noah playing Pearl Jam hits.

WATERVILLE, Maine - The Colby College Museum of Art is acquiring a deluxe set of Pablo Picasso's Vollard Suite from 1939, a series of 100 etchings considered the artist's most significant cycle of prints.
The acquisition was a gift from Peter and Paula Lunder, philanthropists and longtime Colby College benefactors.
Exploring themes of mythology, identity, creativity and sexuality, the Vollard Suite is etched in a neoclassical style that Picasso adapted from his studies of classical sculpture.

Susan Sharon / MPBN

When the Lewiston High School Blue Devils won the state championship in soccer last fall, it was a victory not only for a team made up of Somali, Kenyan and Congolese players, but for their community.

The players and their coach will be recognized Friday night at the Emerge Film Festival with the screening of a documentary and after-party at the Franco Center in Lewiston.

Titled “One Team,” it could be considered a metaphor of the benefits of integration.

LEWISTON, Maine - The Emerge Film Festival has begun in the Lewiston and Auburn area, where the event will showcase dozens of movies.

The event began on Thursday and runs through Sunday. Emerge is screening 40 films, some of which recently screened at Cannes Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival.

The festival will include a Friday night screening of a Maine documentary about the Lewiston High School soccer team and the city's growing population of immigrants. The movie is called "One Team: the Story of the Lewiston High School Blue Devils.''

Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald

The Auburn-born guitarist Lenny Breau was never a household name — at least, not outside of Maine.

The Portland-based Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, which closed last year, will relaunch in 2017.

Maine State Museum

Guns have played a big role Maine’s culture and history. A new exhibit at the Maine State Museum in Augusta — Inventors and Sportsmen: Maine Gunsmiths in the 1800s — looks at part of that history.

The Falmouth Library Ukulele Society performance in 2015.

Though some still scoff at what looks like a toy guitar, there are a growing number of ukulele enthusiasts. Sales of the small four-stringed instruments, popularized in Hawaii, have skyrocketed in recent years and playing groups are popping up across the country including Maine. The ukulele is is helping many of new players become something they never thought they could be — musicians.

PORTLAND, Maine — The former director of Haystack Mountain School of Craft on Deer Isle has been tapped to serve as Maine’s new poet laureate.

The Maine Arts Commission announced Thursday that Stuart Kestenbaum of Deer Isle will fill the five-year appointment. He succeeds Wesley McNair.

Kestenbaum, who has written four books of poetry, stepped down from his position at Haystack last year.

Maine Arts Commission Executive Director Julie Richard said in a statement that his work "captures the quirky, rural characteristics that make Maine unique and beloved."

Courtesy Trudy Irene Scee

PORTLAND, Maine - On Oct. 12, 1937, gangster Al Brady and one other member of his crime gang were gunned down on the streets of Bangor.  They were the last of the depression-era criminal gangs.  Movie theater goers saw newsreel footage of the gang’s end. Brewer writer Trudy Irene Scee has researched the rest of the story for her book, "Public Enemy Number One: The True Story of the Al Brady Gang."  Scee spoke with MPBN’s Irwin Gratz.


Patty Wight / MPBN

David Moses Bridges has spent his life reviving a boatbuilding tradition that was on the brink of being lost.

HERMON, Maine — The chef at Maine’s Dysart’s restaurant and truck stop is ready to test his skills on the hit cooking show “Chopped.”

Shaun Yazbek, known as Chef Yaz, will be one of four chefs competing for $10,000 on an episode titled “Truck Stop Stars.”

It’ll appear on the Food Network on March 1.

Yazbek’s specialties include comfort foods like the hot Thanksgiving sandwich, poutine, chicken pot pies and Yankee pot roasts. He said that if he wins, he’ll use the money to help pay his brother’s medical bills.

Brian Bechard / MPBN

In the last 15 years, about 12,000 Somali Bantu refugees have been resettled in the United States, and some ultimately found their way to Lewiston.

Frankie Fouganthin / Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Actor Jim Carter, known better to millions of Downton Abbey fans as Mr. Carson the butler, is in New Hampshire this week to host a benefit for earthquake victims in Nepal.

Carter spoke with Keith Shortall on Tuesday’s Maine Calling about his role on the popular public TV drama series, now in its final season, and about the humanitarian aid organization WandAid that he created with fellow activist Linda Cruse.

Carter will appear Thursday night at the Music Hall in Portsmouth at a benefit for WandAid, which is currently focused on helping earthquake victims in Nepal.