Alexander’s Art Trail (AAT) and outdoor learning center received state attention during the project’s dedication on Sunday, August 13th at 1:30 p.m. Governor Angus King dropped by with his Harley Davidson entourage to offer his support of the project.

The Governor and friends rode into Alexander as part of their annual Harley Davidson state trip and stopped at the future site of the art trail and the already constructed outdoor learning area located at the Alexander Elementary School on Route 9.

When Alexander resident and retired Washington County Technical College President Ron Renaud heard the Governor would be passing through, he sent a letter asking Gov. King to stop for the dedication.

Renaud described the Art Trail efforts to the Governor. "This is a good example of when small rural school budgets are forced to be cut, that important parts of the curriculum can be augmented by strong community efforts. This has certainly happened here in the small community of Alexander.

"This project is an example of a collaborative effort among area artists, teachers, students, members of the community, and area businesses from the Baileyville, Calais area. A grant has been submitted to add unique sculptures in addition to some private foundation grants that have been awarded.

"This would be a great opportunity for everyone because it is such a wonderfully unique project that has uplifted this community in a rather sophisticated way. Also, this Art Trail is located on Route 9 so that tourists can benefit as well," Renaud said.

The Town of Alexander has just recently embarked on this new mission. The idea began early last year and AAT organizer Linda Renaud, took off running with the plan.

She quickly formed a support committee that includes her husband Ron, area artists, and school parents and the team worked to plan the trail and to construct an outdoor learning center for the Alexander Elementary School students.

Work has already begun on the art trail. In June, teachers from the Alexander school, their students and community volunteers came together to make a series of large cement mushrooms and a giant cement mummy under the direction of sculptors Roland and Grazina Paegle. They are now "planted" on the school grounds and make an interesting beginning for the art trail.
Large solid oak sculptures will also be added to the trail. Sketches for the fairytale works have already been received from Latvian and Lithuanian artists. "Sculptures from local artists could also be added to the trail and will be a chance for local artists to display their works for tourists passing through," Renaud added.

The History Dome and Art Park Inc. is a Maine non-profit organization which provided the initial pilot funds for the construction of the of the "Learning Area" as part of its promise to help raise the matching funds for a MDOT grant.

Support is still needed for the project in the form of ideas, funds and volunteer labor, Renaud said.

"The art trail and learning center will be an asset to the community. This will introduce students to the arts and will promote interest in the arts for generations to come. Not only will this provide a great opportunity for our community, it will be a tremendous attraction to the learning stream of tourists who travel Route 9. It also will create opportunities for area artists to display their work.

By Heather Erickson

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