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Art Exhibition at University of Maine Museum of Art, January 23 – March 27, 2004

Contact: Joe Carr, 581-3744

The University of Maine Museum of Art will be hosting three exhibitions at Norumbega Hall in downtown Bangor from January 23 through March 27, 2004.

Expanding Universe
The Recent Paintings of Al Held

Grand new works by the great geometric abstractionist Al Held (b. 1928), on view at the University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor from January 23 through March 27, 2004,  posit a certain equivalence between the sensible world and the realm of the spirit.  This exhibition brings together paintings and watercolors from the past decade by the internationally known American master.  Distinguished by a colossal scale and vibrant colors, Held’s new paintings reveal sections of an immense universe in which geometric elements of varying shapes and sizes float freely about in multidirectional, non-gravitational spaces.  With their arching vistas, floating orbs and snaking “wormholes,” all covered with candy-colored diamond patterning, Held’s pictures suggest the sensuous physicality of the ideal plane.

Held’s paintings are far from pre-planned.  He creates each painting using a labor-intensive process that can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to complete. He begins each with an intuitively inspired visual idea and then develops and hones it’constantly making changes and painting, taping, repainting, scraping away, sanding, and refining each surface to reduce any history of the process or visible traces of the artist’s hand.  Likewise, the watercolors also on exhibit developed alongside the paintings and in no way represent preliminary ideas for the large-scale canvases.

Al Held studied painting in both New York City and Paris. After returning to New York in 1953, he mingled with many of the pioneering artists of the New York School and soon began painting in an Abstract Expressionist style.  In the early 1960s, Held was appointed Associate Professor at Yale University, where he taught through the mid 1980s.  Held continued to paint throughout his teaching career, moving from flat, reductive abstractions to paintings that created illusionistic space.   For much of this time, he worked only in black and white, a palette choice that permitted him to focus specifically on spatial organization. Following a 1981 trip to Rome to serve as a Fellow at the American Academy, the artist decided to complicate his paintings further with the addition of light and color. Today, Held divides his time between studios in Boiceville, New York and Perugia, Italy. His paintings are included in more than thirty-five museum collections around the world.

Press Release / UMMA ‘ Art Exhibition January 23 ‘ March 27, 2004

Prospect of Light
Images from Pinhole and Plastic Cameras

The University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor will be hosting Prospect of Light: Images from Pinhole and Plastic Cameras, on view from January 23 through March 27, 2004.  This exhibition, organized by the Museum of Art with photographer Jonathan Bailey, includes John Boeckeler, Daniel Bouzard, David Burnett, Anne-Claude Cotty, Walter Crump, Christopher James, Gregg D. Kemp, Douglas Lucak, Robert Owen, Harvey Stein, Craig J. Sterling, and Willie Anne Wright.</

Hoff, Kennedy Share Thoughts on Michele Alexander

Contact: Joe Carr, 581-3571.

Michele Alexander, a member of the UMaine psychology faculty since 1999, was killed in a Tuesday auto accident in Glenburn.

“I was deeply saddened to hear of this tragic accident,” says UMaine President Peter Hoff.  “Michele was a rising star on our faculty, much loved by her students and colleagues.  We have lost a highly valued member of our community.  My heartfelt sympathy goes to her family and friends.”

Alexander, who specialized in social psychology, earned a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in 1996.  She taught undergraduate courses in social psychology, introductory psychology, organizational psychology, stereotypes and prejudice.  At the graduate level, she taught social psychology and intergroup relations.  She was coordinator of the social psychology graduate program and faculty adviser to the UMaine chapter of Psi Chi.

“Michele was both an outstanding professor and a wonderful person,” says UMaine Executive Vice President and Provost Robert Kennedy.  “Her loss will be deeply felt by her students and her many friends on our faculty and staff.”

Alexander is survived by her husband and a young child. 

UMaine Center on Aging Wins $1.3 Million Federal Grant for Statewide AmeriCorps Network to Serve Seniors

Contact: Media contact: Joe Carr at (207) 581-3571

ORONO — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins has announced a $1.3 million federal grant to the University of Maine Center on Aging for a statewide AmeriCorps VISTA project to serve senior citizens. The grant will fund the Senior $ense program, which will recruit, train and place 30 full-time AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers in more than 15 community organizations throughout Maine.  The AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers will help develop financial, employment and consumer counseling services and resources for seniors living in poverty. 

UMaine will begin recruiting volunteers immediately to serve for one to two years to help improve the lives of Maine seniors. Volunteers serve for at least one year and will receive a monthly living allowance.  At the end of their service volunteers receive a cash award. Volunteers interested in national service can apply online at

“AmeriCorps VISTA provides valuable community services to individuals who might not otherwise have access to these services,” said Sen Collins.

“Senior $ense will help address some of the unmet needs of our low-income, elderly Mainers who are doing their best to make ends meet each month. Seniors are often our most vulnerable citizens.  We owe it to them to provide them with the tools they need to be financially independent,” Collins added. 

“This program provides a great way for Mainers of all ages to respond to the president’s call to service,” says Prof. Lenard Kaye, director of the Center on Aging. “AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers will be vital in helping us address the needs of our seniors.

“Financial difficulties can be overwhelming for older people, many of whom are dealing with a variety of other challenges at the same time,” Kaye continued. “By providing a way to deliver resources and services that are customized to different regions of the state, we aim to help Maine’s elders learn to more effectively deal with money and related issues and, in turn, reduce their risk of becoming victims of unscrupulous businesses and scam artists.”

The three-year program is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency which funds national service programs such as the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), the Foster Grandparents Program, Senior Companions, AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA and Learn and Service America.  The 30 new VISTA volunteers who will participate in the Senior $ense program will join 163 AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers who provided a variety of services to Mainers last year. The Corporation for National and Community Service and its programs are part of the USA Freedom Corps.

Kaye notes that the program will use technology to expand its reach to all people who might benefit from it.

“The project will also entail the construction of a comprehensive interactive website where resources will be available to all older adults, their families, and the health and human services personnel who work with them,” he says.

Organizational partners, where VISTA members will be assigned, include the UMaine Cooperative Extension, Maine’s Area Agencies on Aging, many of the state’s Community Action Agencies, Penobscot Community Health Center and the Maine Jobs Council. Consultation and training support will also be available through the State Bureau of Elder and Adult Services, Elder Abuse Institute of Maine, the Senior Community Service Employment Program and AARP of Maine.

Those interested in participating as volunteers should contact the UMaine Center on Aging at 581-3444 or e-mail.

UMaine Energy Challenge Team to Build Paper Snowboard

Contact: Science writer: Nick Houtman, Dept. of Public Affairs, 207-581-3777; Team advisor: John Hwalek, Dept. of Chemical and Biological Engineering, 207-581-2302

ORONO, Maine — Students on this year’s University of Maine Energy Challenge team will have a natural advantage in the annual pulp and paper technology competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). For once, the long Maine winter will work in their favor.

The students’ task is to design and build a snowboard using only paper and paper industry chemicals.

“In the past we’ve had to build a paper wind surfer and a paper sail,” says John Hwalek, professor of chemical engineering and team advisor. “We weren’t able to get out and do testing before the competition in April. This year, we’ll be able to do that. It will be the teams from Florida and Georgia that will have a harder time.”

Eleven UMaine students, all in the Dept. of Chemical and Biological Engineering, have signed up for the project. They are one of 14 participating teams from around the country and have already competed successfully for a $2,000 DOE seed grant. The student engineers will use two campus facilities to produce their snowboard — the Pulp and Paper Process Development Center and the Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center.

The rules call for the board to be made of at least 80 percent cellulose fiber by weight. “The non-paper additives can add up quickly, and you need them for stiffness and to make the surface smooth. There needs to be a balance of fiber and additives. As you use more chemicals, that balance can be difficult to achieve,” says Hwalek.

The annual competition concludes in early April at a Colorado location to be announced. Student teams will be judged by their technical work as well as the board’s performance in a downhill race. More information about the DOE Energy Challenge is available at

UMaine Scientist Becomes President-Elect of National Water Research Organization

Contact: Media contact: Nick Houtman, Dept. of Public Affairs, 207-581-3777; Steve Kahl, Mitchell Center, 207-581-3286

ORONO, Maine — A University of Maine scientist has become president-elect of the National Institutes for Water Resources, NIWR. Steve Kahl, a geochemist and director of the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Environmental and Watershed Research at UMaine, also coordinates Maine’s federally funded water resources research program.

NIWR is a network of 54 water research institutes located in every state, trust territory and the District of Columbia. They receive federal funding through the U.S. Geological Survey. Directors work with local, state and federal agencies to tailor water research activities to local circumstances and priorities.

Kahl says that his new role will be an opportunity for UMaine to raise its national visibility and open doors at research funding agencies. The duties of the position include providing testimony to Congress on the Water Resources Research Institute program and working with federal agencies to enhance research and management of water resources. Kahl has already addressed the National Academy of Sciences about the future of Water Resources Research.

The election of a NIWR president from Maine is noteworthy because the position has historically been held by water research directors from western states with programs that are larger than those in the East. Only one NIWR president in the past decade has been from an eastern state (North Carolina in 2000).

In the most recent program review, the USGS cited the Mitchell Center as a “model for national water centers,” and was especially complimentary of the fiscal management of the Mitchell Center for leveraging a small base budget into a significant program.

Kahl’s research focuses on watershed processes that affect water quality in streams, lakes, and groundwater. He has worked closely with state and federal organizations on questions as diverse as acid rain, mercury, forestry, lakes, and salt contamination of groundwater. The Mitchell Center has 20 graduate students and a well-equipped research laboratory for inorganic environmental chemistry.


Congressman Tom Allen to Visit UMaine December 11

Contact: Media contact: Joe Carr, Dept. of Public Affairs, 207-581-3571

ORONO, Maine — University of Maine research in marine sciences, climate change and composite materials will be on the agenda when Congressman Tom Allen (D-Portland) of Maine’s First District tours laboratories and talks with scientists at the university on December 11. News media representatives are welcome to cover the activities that will begin at the School of Marine Sciences at 2 p.m.

Allen will meet with researchers in the Climate Change Institute at 3 p.m. and the Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center at 4 p.m.

Allen serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives and is co-chair of the bipartisan House Oceans Caucus. He has successfully worked to bring federal research and development funds to Maine for projects such as the Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System, GoMOOS.

UMaine-Hosted Robotics Tournament at Orono High School Sunday

Contact: Media contacts: Tom Bickford, Agent Institute, 207-581-2012; Joe Carr, UMaine Public Affairs, 207-581-3571

ORONO- On Dec. 7, the University of Maine and the Agent Institute will host the 4th FIRST LEGO League’s robotics fair and tournament competition. This event, which will be held at Orono High School, is the season finale for 54 teams of children ages nine to 14 from across Maine. The youngsters have been working for several months building and programming LEGO robots to solve problems.

The theme for this year is Mars.  Student teams have chosen from one of nine “missions” related to the red planet.

The FIRST LEGO League (FLL) was started by the FIRST Foundation, an educational group based in New Hampshire, utilizing the LEGO MINDSTORMS Robotics Invention System. Teams are responsible for planning, building, programming, and testing their robots to complete the challenge course.

In 1998, the first year for this age group, 200 teams competed nationwide.   This year over 4,000 teams from almost every state are participating. This program fosters interest and excitement in computer, science, and engineering fields while providing a forum for learning about the scientific process.

Doors will open on Sunday at Orono High School at 8 a.m.  The tournament kick-off is set for 9 a.m., with competition expected to conclude by 3 p.m.

UMaine Climate Change Institute Researchers to Present Evidence for Rapid Climate Change Events

Contact: Media contact: Nick Houtman, Dept. of Public Affairs, 207-581-3777

ORONO, Maine — University of Maine scientists will give presentations about the sun’s influence on global climate, thinning of the Earth’s crust and volcanic dust in Antarctic ice at one of the world’s largest annual gatherings of geophysicists this month. Researchers from the UMaine Climate Change Institute and the Department of Earth Sciences will participate in the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, December 8-12 in San Francisco, California.

            Among the topics they will discuss is evidence from Antarctica, Greenland and elsewhere for the global distribution, timing and forcing of Holocene age (the past 11,500 years) abrupt climate change events. Growing scientific evidence supports the idea that significant climate shifts within a decade or less have affected civilizations around the globe and could occur again.

            Among UMaine speakers participating in the 2003 AGU fall meeting are the following:


Kirk Maasch et al. will summarize results from a global synthesis of 50 well dated, well resolved Holocene length paleoclimate records that demonstrate the near-synchronous timing of quasi-2,500 year spaced abrupt climate change events. While significantly subdued relative to their glacial age counterparts, these events are still of significant magnitude and rapid onset and decay to be of significance to humans and ecosystems.


Eric Meyerson et al. will present evidence from two of the most accurately dated polar ice cores (GISP2 in central Greenland and Siple Dome in West Antarctica) to demonstrate that both regions have experienced similar timing for major abrupt climate change events during the Holocene. Examination of the most accurately dated portion of both records, the last 1,500 years (dating error +/-2 years), demonstrates that the most recent abrupt climate change event (nominally the Little Ice Age) was the most dramatic of the last 7,000 years. Utilizing a unique mixture of geographic location and boundary conditions available through the Siple Dome record, researchers have shown that this most recent abrupt climate change event propagated from the Antarctic toward the middle latitudes. The work suggests that the polar regions may be the initial receptor for abrupt climate change events on the order of the Little Ice Age.


Paul Mayewski et al. will present evidence demonstrating that instrumentally calibrated proxies (indirect records) for major features of high latitude circulation developed from ice cores across Antarctica and Greenland reveal strong associations with proxies for solar variability from ice cores. These ice core proxies also offer insight into the potential changes in atmospheric chemistry that link changes in solar output to climate change.


Andrei Kurbatov, et al. will present an analysis of volcanic material, or tephra, from the Law Dome ice core in Antarctica. Focusing on 15 different ice layers holding volcanic glass shards from the past 700 years, Kurbatov and his colleagues have begun to link volcanic eruptions with past atmospheric circulation patterns. Shard composition does not match material from Antarctica, and potential sources include volcanoes in New Zealand and South America. Greg Zielinski, Maine State Climatologist and research professor in the Climate Change Institute, is principal investigator of a National Science Foundation grant for this project.


Alan Wanamaker, et al, will present an ongoing project designed to use the composition of sea shells as a way to understand events related to climate change, such as glacial retreat and ocean temperatures shifts. Oxygen isotopes in sea shells vary according to the temperature and salinity of seawater in which they grow. The abundance of the mussel, Mytilus edulis, makes it a useful species for this purpose. In July, scientists collected 4,800 juvenile mussels from Salt Bay near Damariscotta for use in an experiment that will correlate oxygen isotope ratios in the shells with known water temperatures and salinities. The resulting scientific model will be applied to shells collected in coastal Maine to test hypotheses linking glacial dynamics and climate variability 13,000 to 15,000 years ago, as determined by carbon 14 analysis, with the climate pattern known as the North Atlantic Oscillation.


In two separate sessions, Scott Johnson et al will discuss the fundamental chemical and physical processes affecting mineral growth, deformation of the Earth’s crust and magmitic arcs, areas where magma has moved underground into surrounding rock. In presenting the latter, Johnson will use the North Island of New Zealand as a modern analog for understanding the construction of such areas over millions of years. 


Peter Koons et al will present evidence in support of a “tectonic aneurysm” model from the northwest Himalayas. Geologists have long known that as mountains rise, erosion can redistribute large amounts of rock and other material. Only recently have the consequences of this process for the Earth’s crust been appreciated. Observations at Nanga Parbat along the Indus River Valley show that erosion has changed the heat profile of the crust leading to further crustal thinning, changes in material flow and locally dramatic deformation. Understanding the dynamics of this process lead the authors to predict where else on the globe this process might be occurring, such as the St. Elias Range in southeast Alaska.

            Other UMaine speakers will include: Blue Spikes, snow accumulation rate distribution in Antarctica; Leigh Stearns, ice dynamics of Byrd Glacier, Antarctica; Phaedra Upton, tectonics of Taiwan; Dan Sandweiss, geoarcheological evidence of climate change; Shichang Kang, snow chemistry on Mt Everest; Gordon Hamilton, satellite calibration studies, and scientific outreach.

            Created in 1919, AGU is a nonprofit scientific organization serving a community of more than 41,000 scientists in 130 countries. Its mission is to promote the scientific study of the Earth and the space environment.

Maine Tree Club Membership a Good Holiday Gift

Contact: Media contact: Richard J. Brzozowski, Cumberland County Cooperative Extension, 780-4205 or 1-800-287-1471 (in Maine)

ORONO, Maine — Trees have an honored place at the center of holiday celebrations, and they play many roles in our culture, science and the economy. Maine citizens can learn more about them through the Maine Tree Club, a program offered by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Maine Forest Service and the Pine Tree Arboretum.

The club is designed for citizens young and old who want to learn about trees. Participants receive practical knowledge and skills to recognize 50 different types of trees. Every month, participants will receive mailings that highlight two species of Maine trees.

Outings are scheduled around the state in 2004 to get people into the woods for practical hands-on learning and enjoyment, says Richard Brzozowski of the Cumberland County Extension office. These outings are guided by experts and planned for the mountains, coastal regions and other parts of Maine.

“As a kid, I learned a bit about trees, but there is so much more to know,” says Brzozowski. “Trees are a magnificent part of nature! Cooperative Extension presents the Maine Tree Club so that anyone, from kids to grandparents, can learn how to identify trees and understand their importance.”

Participants will receive a hand lens, an attractive notebook, a weatherproof pocket guide to Maine trees, several practical guides related to tree care and a tree seedling to plant during Arbor Week.

Much of the knowledge gained by members of the Maine Tree Club can be easily applied in their own yards and communities. The annual registration fee is $15 per person, $25 per couple, and $30 per family. A group rate of $60 plus the costs of hand lenses is available to schools, clubs and other groups. Maine Tree Club Scholarships are available for those in need.

A free informational brochure is available from Extension at 1-800-287-1471, via e-mail at or on the Maine Tree Club website.

Maine Basketmakers Sale at Hudson Museum Dec. 13

Contact: Media contact: Joe Carr (207) 581-3571

ORONO — The 9th annual Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance holiday sale will be held at the University of Maine’s Hudson Museum on Saturday, Dec. 13. The sale and demonstration was launched nine years ago to promote an awareness and appreciation of Maine Indian culture and traditions.

The event provides visitors an opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind brown ash splint and sweetgrass baskets, carvings, jewelry and birchbark work of the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot artists, all while taking in traditional singing and drumming, and sampling native foods.

This year’s event is set for Saturday, Dec. 13, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Early bird shopping will be held from 9-10 a.m. for a $10 admission fee.

The alliance was formed in 1993 after the death of renowned Penobscot basketmaker Madeline Shay. At that time less than 15 basketmakers were under the age of 50. Now the alliance has about 70 members and they gather to sell baskets three times each year: the holiday sale at the Hudson Museum, the Native American Festival at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor in July and the Common Ground Fair in Unity in September. Members of the alliance also offer basketmaking classes for tribal members. Since 1990 the Maine Arts Commission has awarded 85 Maine Indian basketry apprenticeships to support the perpetuation of Maine’s oldest art form.

There will be more than 30 vendors at this year’s event. The prices of the baskets, ranging from $30 to $800–many are sold by the artists who made them.

Other events scheduled for the day include brown ash pounding and work basket demonstrations, a book signing, drumming and  singing, the sale of traditional foods and a non-perishable food drive to benefit the Fiddlehead Food Pantry. The sales of the traditional foods benefit the Penobscot Nation DHS Activities Fund. The Fiddlehead Food Pantry provides food for First Nation People in the Wabanaki regions.

All vendors, artists and performers are required to be members of one of Maine’s four federally recognized tribes. This ensures that the cultural activities and the products purchased are authentic.

The following is the program of the day’s events:

For more information, please call 581-1901 or visit the Hudson Museum website.


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