Maine Association of Women in the Fine and Performing Arts records, 1977-1983, undated
Collection Scope and Content
The Maine Association of Women in the Fine and Performing Arts (MAWFPA) records contain the papers and visual materials of this female-driven, artist-run organization active in the state from 1977 through 1983. The MAWFPA records are arranged into four series documenting the activities of the organization with majority focusing on Spectra 1 and Spectra 2, the two all-female multi-disciplinary arts celebrations produced by the organization in 1979 and 1982. The bulk of the material in this collection ranges from 1977, when MAWFPA was founded, to 1983.
Series 1 (1977-1989) contains the papers from the president’s office. Janet Beerits served as president of MAWFPA during these years. The papers in series 2 (1979-1983) represent all the financial documents produced by MAWFPA including materials related to organizational expenses, accounting and funding. Series 3 (1977-1983) holds items related to the programs and publications sponsored by MAWFPA. The papers in series 4 encompass all materials related to MAWFPA membership and artist submissions. It should be noted that the papers arrived at MWWC with three clearly delineated series, the president’s office, financial programming and publications as well as boxes of unmarked and unfiled papers and slides. This original order was maintained in the first three series with relevant additions from the loose papers added in separate folders to the end of each series. The last series was created to accommodate the membership cards as well as the photographs and slides submitted by artists to MAWFPA.
The Maine Association of Women in the Fine and Performing Arts (MAWFPA) grew out of the energy following the Women in the Arts Workshop held in Augusta in June 1977 at the Maine State Meeting of the Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year. After attending this meeting, there was a desire by attendees the need to know more about the activities of women artists around the state. Later on that same year, Anne Hazlewood-Brady founded MAWFPA as a statewide nonprofit organization whose mission was to support Maine women artists.
In the spring of 1979, MAWFPA organized a three-day arts festival and conference at what was then Westbrook College in Portland called Spectra 1. MAWFPA received a $5,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) towards their efforts. With Hazlewood-Brady serving as director, Eric MacLeod as artistic director and Janet Beerits as president of the board, they put forth a panel of impressive jurors: May Sarton for poetry and literature, Dahlov Ipcar for painting, Andrea Stark for dance and Berenice Abbott for photography. The Joan Whitney Payson Gallery on campus held the Spectra 1 art exhibition of painting, sculpture, graphic art, photography and film. Alongside the visual arts was a publication of poetry and prose and four performances of music, theater and dance. There were workshops for artists and a printed catalogue for the fine arts.
As Spectra 1 came to an end, the desire for connection and community among female artists in Maine remained. After that spring, small regional meetings of MAWFPA were held across the state with the intention of maintaining a shared artistic community in the more isolated areas of Maine. In addition, MAWFPA organized statewide annual meetings open to all members.
In 1981 with nearly 200 members, thoughts towards another Spectra began to emerge. In October of 1982, after many months of meetings, planning and fundraising, the month-long arts celebration Spectra 2 opened at the University of Maine at Orono with Anne Elzas-O’Keefe at the helm as project director. Once again Spectra 2 consisted of a multitude of media: a visual arts catalogue, an anthology of poetry and prose and an abundance of performances, workshops and events.
Although MAWFPA elected a board in 1983, Beerits resigned as president and the activities of the statewide organization seem to have come to an end. In 1989, Hazlewood-Brady asked Beerits to write a brief history of MAWFPA capturing her time as President from late 1979 through January 1983. She concludes by writing, “At its peak, about 300 paid members made MAWFPA a real force in the life of women artists of Maine.” Carrying on the tradition of MAWFPA, the Maine Women in the Arts, one of the original small regional groups, continues to meet in Kennebunkport.