Trueline has a storied connection to the local arts scene. From our home in Portland, Maine’s historic Arts District, we’ve gotten a firsthand look at the people—often colorful, sometimes weird—who, like us, call Portland home. Trueline makes every effort to create a company culture that’s both fun and inclusive. It’s no wonder we’re continually named one of the Best Places to Work in Maine. One of our most beloved ties to Portland’s creative community is our participation in the First Friday Art Walk. For over a year, we’ve dedicated a portion of our office to serve as a gallery space for local artists to showcase their work.
Content Developer (and impressive artist in his own right), Matt Welch has hand-selected the artists who have graced the Trueline walls. Month-over-month, we watched as attendance grew—and more and more bottles of wine were consumed. The first Friday of each month saw our office transformed into a full-service gallery complete with pop-up bar, live music and of course, art.
But just as things were starting to take off, the entire world seemed to stop. With COVID-19 came a new normal. One that could no longer accommodate crowded galleries or communal cheese platters. Our office that was once teeming with activity and bustling with energy, fell silent. Our entire workforce was sent to work from home and of course, First Friday Art Walks were put on hold. Indefinitely.
Filling the Void
First Fridays offered more than just an opportunity for local artists to show off their work. It was about interacting, laughing and forging relationships with our neighbors. How do we continue to do so from a shuttered office? After nearly 8 months, we’re excited to introduce Trueline’s newest artistic initiative, our “Window to Portland”.
The large, plate glass windows that line the front of our office once offered a glimpse from the street of the people who make up Trueline. Now we have the opportunity to replace those darkened panes with original artwork from a local artist. The very windows that once framed our view of Portland—from the inside looking out—can now communicate a message to the people and businesses we love and miss: We’re all in this together.
We just needed to find an artist up to the task.
To begin, we contacted local sign painters, Better Letter. We love their work and were excited about the prospect of collaborating with them on a project. We’d hoped that our window mural would provide that opportunity. Unfortunately, they were too busy to take on the project. But on the bright side, they referred us to a local artist who they thought would be a perfect fit… and boy, were they right.
Meet the Artist
Spenser Macleod is a Portland-based artist and graduate of the Maine College of Art. The minute we saw the work on his website, we knew we’d found the perfect artist for our Window to Portland.
Macleod’s work is largely illustrative with bold uses of line and color. His portfolio includes work both large and small. The smaller pieces—created mostly with pen and ink, watercolor, and some digital applications—is fun and engaging with an incredible amount of detail and fine lines. But it was his large-scale work that really blew us away. In particular, his murals; huge walls spray painted with vibrant colors and juxtaposed with a keen sense of typography.
We found ourselves drawn towards the sense of playfulness, and his nod to vintage pop culture, cartoons and advertisements. In short, Macleod’s style is eclectic and loaded with personality. Which is exactly how we see ourselves at Trueline.
An avid skateboarder, Macleod draws inspiration from the aesthetic the local skate scene has infused onto Portland’s streets. It was this influence from urban culture that gave us hope that his style would blend seamlessly into the vibe of our home on Congress Street. When we spoke with Spenser, we could tell his connection to Portland was strong:
“I fell in love with the city while going to MECA. I’ve lived in my fair share of places growing up and found Portland had a perfect blend of the Maine coast and city life. I enjoy that there are still areas like the Eastern Prom where I can post up, lay back, and enjoy the sunset with some take-out.”Spenser Macleod, Artist
In the end, we decided to convey a message of unity. There’s been a lot going on in the world lately. While we can discuss how divisive politics have become or how awkward the Thanksgiving table may become this year, we’d rather provide an image of inclusion.
Initially, we planned to have the mural painted directly onto the glass. Our thought was that when we did eventually move back into the office, it might let enough light in so that we would still be able to see our hands in front of our faces. Upon talking with Spenser, we realized that would require him to create a design and then flip it—and paint it in reverse. As if the design wasn’t complicated enough!
Ultimately, he decided to paint the mural on wooden panels that can be placed in and out of the windows whenever we want. This also allowed Spenser to the freedom to work from his studio instead of on-site.
Working with Spenser has been an amazing experience. With a laid-back demeanor and positive attitude, he brought a wealth of fresh ideas; helping us determine what we wanted to say as well as the best way to say it.
Here’s what Spenser had to say about the project:
“This project was a blast! I worked a little differently—painting on wooden panels instead of a stationary wall. I loved blending my cartoonish graffiti style characters, local Portland landmarks, and the concept of unity into one piece. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to create something that will bring color and life to a part of Portland’s streets and help remind everyone we truly are, all in this together.”Spenser Macleod
Maybe Macleod’s work will give people a sense of community that we’re all missing. Maybe the most we can hope for is to put a brief smile on the face of a passerby. No matter how people react to the piece, we hope our “Window to Portland” allows us to strengthen our connection to the city we love.
Have you seen Trueline’s Window to Portland? What did you think? Share your thoughts with us at [email protected]. And let us know if you have an idea for our next window design!
See more of Spenser Macleod’s work at: http://www.spensermacleod.com