Arts & Krimes by Krimes Screening

Join us for a virtual screening of the award-winning documentary Arts & Krimes by Krimes. While locked-up for six years in federal prison, artist Jesse Krimes secretly creates monumental works of art—including an astonishing 40-foot mural made with prison bed sheets, hair gel, and newspaper. He smuggles out each panel piece-by-piece with the help of fellow artists, only seeing the mural in totality upon coming home. As Jesse’s work captures the art world’s attention, he struggles to adjust to life outside, living with the threat that any misstep will trigger a life sentence.

Art & Krimes by Krimes is directed by Alysa Nahmias, produced by Amanda Spain, Benjamin Murray, and Alysa Nahmias, executive produced by Sheila Nevins, Jenifer Westphal, Joe Plummer, Patty Quillin, Hallee Adelman & Ivy Herman, and co-executive produced by Nion McEvoy & Leslie Berriman, Ruth Ann Harnisch, and Sheri Sobrato-Brisson.

Watch the trailer

About Frank Blazquez

Frank Blazquez is a visual artist working in portraiture, documentary film, and mixed-media. With multiple essays published in The Guardian, he is also a writer. Blazquez focuses on counter-narratives across the American Southwest and tropes related to Latinx culture along the US-Mexico border. The creator demonstrates his experiences connected to urgency and rehabilitation. The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery is currently exhibiting Blazquez’s portraiture and his artwork was recently displayed in State of the Art 2020: an exhibit at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Reimagining Religious Freedom: Rights, Responsibilities, Respect

Join the all-virtual Religious Freedom Mobile Institute, October 27-29. The theme will be “Reimagining Religious Freedom: Rights, Responsibilities, Respect.”

Religious freedom is essential to democracy, and we are at a pivotal point for freedom. In light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and the rise of both political violence and the emboldening of Christian nationalism and its various extremist elements, the Institute will look closely at the role of religion and our understanding of religious freedom in the context of a crumbling democracy and our hope for the future.

The rising threat of Christian nationalist driven political violence is central to our convening now, as is developing the resources for those who gather to quickly mobilize and take action.

This event will be bringing together an impressive group of experts on policy, organizing, law, religion, and the intersection of it all. Not only will you hear and learn from experts in the field, you also will receive the training you need to respond in your context as appropriate.

These public conversations will look at the politics of race and religious freedom by centering the experiences of marginalized communities when it comes to public education, voting rights, and environmental justice, including housing reform and security.

Save October 27-29 on your calendar now. 

Round Table with Kennebec County Politicians

On October 19 at 6:00 pm, join us for a round table discussion between local politicians! Constituents in Kennebec County will have the opportunity to engage with their local reps on the state and local levels from Augusta, Gardiner, Winthrop, and Hallowell.

* FAM would like to thank the officials and candidates from both political parties who chose to respond to our invitation.

When: Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Where: First Amendment Museum, 184 State Street, Augusta, ME.

Time: 6:00 PM

Free to attend!

About the Participants

Linda Conti
City Councilor, Augusta

Linda Conti is a member of the Maine Bar. She recently retired from a long and rewarding legal career at the Maine Attorney General’s Office. She is a resident of Augusta and currently is serving her eighth year on the Augusta City Council representing the residents of Ward 1.


Photo Coming Soon

Matt Pouliot
State Senator, Augusta

Bio Coming Soon

Charlotte Warren
State Representative, Hallowell

Charlotte Warren is finishing her fourth term in the Maine House of Representatives serving Hallowell, Manchester, and West Gardiner. She has served for six years as the house chair of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. She was recently appointed by the Speaker of the House to serve as the House Chair for Maine’s Commission to Examine the Reestablishment of Parole. Warren previously served on the Judiciary Committee and as the house chair of Maine's Mental Health Working Group. She served on the Hallowell City Council for 12 years, including four as mayor.

Warren is currently running for County Commissioner to represent Kennebec County District 2

Thomas Harnett
State Representative, Gardiner

Thomas Harnett is serving his second term in the Maine State Legislature representing House District #83. He currently is the House Chair of the Judiciary Committee. Prior to his service in state government, he served as the Mayor of the City of Gardiner for six years and as a member of the City Council for one year. Harnett is a past President of the then Maine Bar Foundation and served on the Justice Action Group and the Committee on Volunteer Legal Services.


Photo Coming Soon

Sarah Fuller
Town Council Chair, Winthrop

Bio Coming Soon

William Bridgeo
Candidate for Maine State House District 60

William "Bill" Bridgeo retired in 2021 after serving for twenty-three years as Augusta's city manager. Prior to that he spent six years as city manager of Calais, Maine and eleven years as city manager of Canandaigua, New York. Bill is a longstanding adjunct faculty member at the University of Maine at Augusta and has served on the boards of the Maine Municipal Association, the Kennebec Valley YMCA, the Friends of the Blaine House, and the Maine Development Foundation. He was president of the board of the New York Municipal Management Association and a charter member of the Board of Regents of the International City Management Association University.

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    The Future of Maine’s Electric Utilities

    The League of Women Voters of the Capital Area will host an upcoming event in Augusta, where we’ll discuss the future of Maine’s Utilities. It’s an ongoing and highly contentious issue. We’re offering an unbiased panel for Mainers who want to learn more about the issue, hear from both sides, and make informed choices. 

    The details: Signatures are being collected for two competing referenda that could be on the ballot next year. One referendum would replace Central Maine Power and Versant Power with a consumer-owned utility called Pine Tree Power, whose proponents claim would keep rates low, respond faster to outages, and support clean energy projects. The competing referendum would require voter approval of the cost of completing such a purchase because customers would be responsible for paying off the debt taken on for the buyout, estimated at up to $13 billion. Representatives for both referenda will present the pros and cons of the proposals and answer questions from attendees.

    This event is co-sponsored by the Lithgow Public Library.

    Lithgow Public Library
    45 Winthrop St
    Augusta, ME

    Questions? Email Judy at judyannwhiting@aol.com

    Has Defending the Establishment Clause Become a Constitutional Violation?

    “Has Defending the Establishment Clause Become a Constitutional Violation?” Tom Waddell, president of the Maine Chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, will discuss Maine and Religious Education during his onsite presentation at the First Amendment Museum.

    His focus is on how the Supreme Court’s decision in Carson V. Makin all but requires Maine to fund Christian education. He will also explain how Maine’s bill LD1672, which requires private schools to follow public school guidelines, applies to private Christian schools.

    When: Thursday, October 6, 2022

    Where: First Amendment Museum, 184 State Street, Augusta, ME.

    Time: 6:30 PM

    With: Tom Waddell, Maine Chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation

    Free to attend! No Tickets Required!

    About Tom Waddell

    Tom Waddell is the president of the Maine Chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national constitutional watchdog organization based in Madison, Wisconsin with over 35,000 members. As president of the Maine Chapter – FFRF, Tom was the first “out of the closet” Atheist to give an invocation to the Maine House and Senate since the state was established in 1820.


      Fourth of July – Family Fun Day

      Join the First Amendment Museum for their annual Family Fun Day at the Gannet House at 184 State Street. Grab a spot to watch Augusta’s Fourth of July parade and enjoy the outdoor games, face painting, arts and crafts, and refreshments.

      Darling’s Ice Cream For A Cause will be parked outside the museum from 10 AM to 1 PM.

      Free tours will be offered throughout the day!

      Brown Belongings: A Dialogue about the Politics of Color and Class

      Join artist Linda Vallejo as she describes her new exhibit “Brown Belongings”, which represents ten years of concentrated work on visualizing what it means to be a person of color in the United States. These works reflect what she calls her “brown intellectual property”—the experiences, knowledge, and feelings she has gathered over more than four decades of study in Chicano/a and American indigenous communities.

      Since 2010 Vallejo has produced hundreds of sculptures, paintings, and works on paper entitled “Make ‘Em All Mexican.” She purchases pricey antiques (plaster and porcelain figures, magazines, and postcards) and paint their skin brown. There is a “brown” Elvis Presley, Fred Flintstone & Barney Rubble, Marie Antoinette & Louis Auguste, the Rose Parade Queen, Queen Mother, Greek and Roman gods. In 2015 she produced “The Brown Dot Project,” a series of “data pictographs,” images on gridded architectural vellum where brown dots represented actual data. The works portrayed various data sets including US Latino populations; professional numbers in health, education, and business sectors; and Latino contribution to the US Gross National Product.

      “Brown Belongings” will lead participants down an ironic path to find yourself confronted by some of the most difficult questions of our time, “Do race, color, and class define our status in the world?” “Is it possible to be a part of and earnestly contribute to multiple cultures simultaneously?”  “Does color and class define our understanding and appreciation of culture?”

      Learn more about Linda’s work at www.lindavallejo.com

      Register for the Zoom Event

      About Linda Vallejo

      Vallejo creates work that visualizes what it means to be a person of color in the United States. She states that these works reflect what she calls her “brown intellectual property”—the experiences,  knowledge, and feelings gathered over more than four decades of study of Latino, Chicano, and American indigenous culture and communities.  

      Solo exhibitions include LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes (2019-2020); Kean University, Karl & Helen  Burger Gallery, Union, New Jersey and Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA (2018); bG  Gallery, Santa Monica (2017); Texas A&M University Reynolds Gallery (2016); Bert Green Fine Art,  Chicago Ill, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, Los Angeles CA (2015); Lancaster Museum of  Art and History in Lancaster CA (2017 & 2014) and the Soto Clemente Velez Cultural Center in New  York (2014), George Lawson Gallery in Los Angeles and the University Art Gallery of New Mexico  State University (2013), as well as Arte Americas in collaboration with the Fresno Art Museum and  Central California Museum of Art Advisory Committee and California State University, San  Bernardino, Fullerton Museum (2012).  

      Her most recent solo exhibition Brown Belongings was featured in the NY Times “Visualizing Latino  Populations Through Art” by Jill Cowan, New York, NY (November 26, 2019) and in LA Times “Linda  Vallejo and a decade of art that unapologetically embraces brownness” by Matt Stromberg (June 20,  2019). 

      Vallejo’s work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), Long  Beach, CA, the Museum of Sonoma County, Santa Rosa, CA, Museo del Barrio, New York, NY, East  Los Angeles College Vincent Price Museum, Los Angeles CA, National Museum of Mexican Art,  Chicago Ill, Carnegie Art Museum, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, CA, UC Santa  Barbara, California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives (CEMA), Santa Barbara, CA, UCLA Chicano  Study Research Center (CSRC), Los Angeles, CA, California Digital Library, Arizona State University  Library Archives.

      The Augusta museum’s annual event culminated with a Suffrage March, celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment.

      4th of July Parade
      Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

      Visitors to the First Amendment Museum on Thursday got more than a good seat for the Fourth of July parade in Augusta, they got a sneak peek into the not-yet-open museum.

      The First Amendment Museum, which is going through a “soft opening” before crucial construction projects begin, held their second annual Family Fun Day at the Gannett House at 184 State St. The museum, true to its name, has been described as a “concept museum” about the First Amendment and the freedoms it protects, freedoms of religion, speech and the press and the rights of people to peaceably assemble and petition their government.

      The celebration also included light refreshments and outdoor games, as well as tours of the museum. The museum’s front lawn was decorated with American flag-colored lawn chairs while children did arts and crafts and adorned themselves with U.S.-themed temporary tattoos. A number of visitors set up their chairs for the parade before taking a walk through the museum.

      After the tours and open house, a handful of attendees and museum officials joined Augusta’s parade holding signs and wearing sashes encouraging women to vote to re-enact a suffrage march.

      Co-founder Terry Gannett Hopkins said the women’s suffrage movement is tied to the first amendment because women petitioned their government. She said the women’s suffrage movement began in the 1840s.  The suffrage movement resulted in the 19th Amendment, which was passed in 1919, but not ratified by every state until 1920. It prohibits state and federal governments from denying the right to vote to citizens of the U.S. on the basis of sex. Maine was the 19th state to ratify the amendment on Nov. 5, 1919.

      Museum Director and co-founder Genie Gannett said the event’s turnout was better than last year’s but a few people pulled out of the march due to weather, which hovered around 90 degrees for most of the day.

      Exhibits in the museum may seem like the home’s natural decor, but have powerful symbolism. During a tour, Gannett motioned to a dining room table and explained that the table is where people most often practice their First Amendment rights. She also hearkened back to suffragettes who didn’t think it was “lady-like” to hold signs, so they would hold tea parties to bolster the movement.

      Other exhibits explained in simple terms how countries with stricter limitations on speech go about spreading information. Genie Gannett opened up a drawer that appeared to be full of rice, but it also contained flash drives. She said shopkeepers in North Korea would keep stored information inside of rice and provide it to customers after they use a code word. A large Jenga game with a number of precarious blocks is used in a kid’s room to illustrate the risk of speaking out in a country with strict speech laws.

      Gannett said the exhibits, which use relatable themes from everyday life, are designed to be “sticky,” or easily retained by visitors. She said, citing a Newseum poll, that 40% of Americans could not name a single freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment, so the museum exists for people to live and practice their freedoms.

      “It’s about how you feel and we know that learning (should be) sticky,” she said. “If you want to remember and know, making and doing … solidifies that.”

      Gannett said that some future exhibits could target school-aged children and attempt to clarify the differences between their normal freedoms and their freedoms in a school setting. She said the museum is “fiercely non-partisan.”

      Steve Cushman, who attended the event with his five children, said his children enjoyed the hands-on exhibits explaining the freedoms and seeing the suffragette costumes. He said it was “absolutely” important to teach children about their First Amendment freedoms, but admitted the learning for more for them and he was more interested in the historical architecture inside the Gannett House, which was built in 1911.

      Organizers said they will hold a suffrage march re-enactment in 2020 to commemorate the full ratification of the amendment.

      This article was originally published in the Kennebec Journal by Sam Shepard.

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      The event at the First Amendment Museum at the Gannett House included discussions of political, student and online speech.

      Participants at Free Speech Week
      People chatting at the museum. Photo credit Joe Phelan.

      As Free Speech Week gets underway across the nation, people came to Augusta on Tuesday evening for a special event to educate them about the various ways that the First Amendment has a bearing on their lives.

      The group gathered at the First Amendment Museum at the Gannett House, where legal experts, professors, journalists and others led discussions on questions of free speech that can arise in three arenas: politics, education and the internet.

      Under portraits of figures who have championed various manners of free speech — including whistleblower Edward Snowden, former U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith and civil rights activist Barbara Johns — attendees were given written prompts with ideas to guide their discussions. They included numerous questions, such as whether social media platforms should monitor users’ activity or whether a school can punish a student who didn’t make an explicit threat but posted an online video depicting violence.

      One organizer of the open house was the New England First Amendment Coalition, a Massachusetts-based organization that promotes transparency in government.

      “We advocate for all aspects of the First Amendment,” said Justin Silverman, the group’s executive director, who drove the Augusta for the open house. “But ultimately underpinning everything we do, it’s about education and letting the public know why we’re working so hard to protect, in this case, your right to free speech, and the right to free speech of that person you don’t like and you don’t want to hear speaking.”

      Another organizer was the group that runs the museum, the First Amendment Museum at the Gannett House. The yellow stucco building at 184 State St. used to be the home of newspaper publisher Guy P. Gannett. Now Gannett’s relatives are leading the effort to create a museum focused on free speech.

      The museum hasn’t opened to the public fully yet, but organizers hope it will by 2020, said Rebecca Lazure, executive director of the First Amendment Museum at the Gannett House. Until then, the group plans to make it available for events periodically.

      People who came to the museum on Tuesday night did so for various reasons.

      One of them, Toni Richardson, is an educational technician in the Augusta School Department. Last year, she filed a complaint alleging that the school district discriminated against her when she told a fellow employee she would pray for him. The district eventually agreed to withdraw a directive that Richardson not make those statements and replace it with an affirmation that she can do so outside the hearing of students.

      Richardson’s case now is highlighted in the exhibits that are being developed at the First Amendment Museum.

      Another attendee, Keith Ludden, of Augusta, used to work as a journalist in his home state of Nebraska. Now he runs a nonprofit organization that produces oral histories and folklife research.

      Ludden came to the open house, he said, to help affirm the protections of the press and political protest that are contained in the First Amendment.

      He referred to President Donald Trump, who frequently berates the press and recently praised a Montana congressman who pleaded guilty to assaulting a newspaper reporter. He also mentioned the case of deceased Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. On Tuesday, Turkey’s president accused Saudi officials of murdering Khashoggi following their assertion that he was killed accidentally during an altercation.

      The First Amendment “is critical, especially now when we’ve got these vicious attacks on the media and the press” Ludden said. “It’s really, really critical that we defend the First Amendment and make people understand why the press is important and not the enemy.”

      The Portland Media Center and Gorham radio station WMPG also organized the event.

      Article originally written by Charles Eichacker for Central Maine.

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