The Union of Maine Visual Artists (UMVA) was founded in 1975 to
- create better communication and support among artists
- advocate for artists' interests and rights
Founding members included Carlo Pittore, Stephen Petroff, Mark Petroff, Natasha Mayers, Abby Shahn, Kathy Bradford, Maury Colton, David Brooks, and Pat Owen. Run by the generosity and commitment of its artist members, the union is a 501(c)3 non-profit, dependent upon membership fees and donations to cover operating expenses. Programs arise from member concerns and are implemented in direct proportion to membership commitment to them.
As artist advocates, the UMVA
- initiated and saw enacted into state law the Maine Percent for Art Program (requiring a percentage of funds for state buildings to include art) and the Artist's Estate Tax Law (allowing art work to be used to pay artists’ estate taxes);
- continues to lobby major venues to drop entry and jury fees from their exhibition requirements and for organizations holding art auctions to give artists a percentage of the sale of their work.
- built a coalition with labor and academia to oppose Governor LePage’s removal of Judy Taylor's Labor Mural from the Maine Department of Labor.
To support artists, the UMVA
- has sponsored regular monthly meetings with presentations and dialogue among and between artists and the general public on pertinent and topical concerns which help to clarify the language of art;
- runs a website, featuring the UMVA Quarterly Journal (art magazine) and UMVA blog/newsletter (exhibition listings, opportunities, and workshops);
- sponsors The Maine Masters Project, an ongoing film series (13 films to date), featuring some of Maine's most distinguished artists;
- sponsors and curates member exhibitions, lectures, panel symposia, films, socials, and other programs to educate and to sustain artists in their artistic pursuits; UMVA has worked with museums, libraries, and colleges in Maine to create and curate topical exhibitions, such as Warflowers: From Swords into Plowshares, Eliminating Racism, and Occupy! UMVA worked closely with Maine's Bring Our War Dollars Home campaign for two years, providing artistic support in the form of statewide draw-a-thons, draw-ins (at the State House), and print-a-thons (silk-screening posters) to envision how the money used for war could be better utilized for peace, environmental concerns and social justice. Other projects have included Home installations in storefront windows on Congress Street to call attention to homelessness, and Lubec Arts Alive, in which a dozen UMVA artists worked with an isolated and struggling community to come together to make art;
- sponsors ARRT! (Artists Rapid Response Team), a group of artists who meet monthly to make banners and props in partnership with progressive Maine non-profits -- ARRT! has created 125 Images for over 40 organizations, including Maine People’s Alliance, 350.org, Maine AllCare, NAACP, and the Penobscot Nation.
The organization serves as the statewide advocate for Maine artists promoting social, economic, legal and aesthetic concerns. Our vision is to grow and change with the times, to increase our membership and audience, and to advance Maine's art community in quality and quantity. UMVA artists value what can be achieved through collective efforts. As artists, we recognize that our connection with the world forms the core of all art-making processes. We welcome the opportunity to share our knowledge with each other in this spirit of cooperation.
Current UMVA Board members are Robert Shetterly, Natasha Mayers, Richard Kane, Mary Laury, Cynthia Hyde, Carl Little, and William Hessian.