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May 2013

Being a Professional: Responsibilities & Expectations

Practical resources, goal setting and planning techniques to elevate your artist profile.

Being an artist isn’t always as clear cut as one would hope. And many creatives don’t match the ‘starving artist’ archetype. So, what does it mean to be a PROfessional artist? What are your responsibilities? What do your peers, curators, directors, gallery owners expect from you professionally?

This session is designed to help you navigate the art community and  art world. You will learn how to elevate your artist profile and how to develop a solid studio/business plan. Presenters included artist Lissa Hunter, former Maine Arts Commission director Donna McNeil, Rose Contemporary director Virginia Rose, Maine Jewish Museum curator Nancy Davidson and Portland Museum of Art director Mark Bessire.

Resource List

Lissa Hunter Handout 

Virgina Rose Handout

Donna McNeil Handout #1

Donna McNeil Handout #2

Slide Presentation

Video of session  - unavailable


Presenter Biographies


Lissa Hunter is a studio artist, living and working in Portland, Maine.  For over thirty years, her work has concentrated on basketry using a variety of materials and techniques, emphasizing both the craft and art of making, and now includes drawing and clay, as well.   Examples of her work can be seen in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution Renwick Gallery, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Art + Design, among others, as well as in homes across the country.  She is president of the Board of Trustees of Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and takes great pleasure in teaching and writing about art, craft and creativity.



After receiving a BFA in studio art, Virginia Rose moved to New York City in 1998, to complete a Master’s Degree in Art History at Queens College. She managed two art galleries in Manhattan, Schmidt Bingham and DFN Gallery, and opened her own space, AVC Contemporary, in 2002. During her time in New York,she volunteered with non-profit arts organizations and curated institutional exhibitions. Virginia moved to Portland, Maine, in 2005. She was the director of Aucocisco Galleries for three years, administrated the First Friday Art Walk for two years, and served on the board of the Portland Arts & Cultural Alliance, now part of Creative Portland, and the Portland Public Art Committee or four years. She began teaching Art History at Southern Maine Community College in 2006, and has held adjunct positions at the University of Southern Maine, Saint Joseph’s College, and Maine College of Art. In 2011, Virginia opened Rose Contemporary in the former Whitney Art Works gallery space, to showcase contemporary art from Maine and beyond. In her spare time, she takes care of her husband and toddler, gets crafty, plays with power tools, and reads a lot of science fiction.



Donna McNeil is the former director of the Maine Arts Commission. During her ten years at the agency she was responsible for initiating the first in the nation creative economy grant, Creative Communities = Economic Development which brought the cultural sector into active partnership with government and business. donna also initiated the largest state arts agency fellowship for individual artists and created the good idea grant which delivers essential funding to artists to assist with the creation of new work. Prior to her tenure in public service Donna worked in the non profit and for profit sectors as a gallery owner and institutional director in the visual and performing arts. She has served on numerous artist grant panels such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the MacArthur "genius" award, United States Artists, the Strathbutler Foundation, the New Hampshire council on the Arts, the Butler Artist Awards, the Piscataquis Foundation, Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture and more. Donna continues her work as the Maine representative for Artists in Context, which supports artists whose work collaboratively addresses social issues. Donna McNeil holds a BFA in Painting from Syracuse University, an MLA in art history from Harvard University and a certificate from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University for Executives in State and Local Government. In 2011 she was awarded a honorary doctorate from Maine College of Art and was privileged to be Commencement Speaker.



Over 50 years of curating exhibitions......Barridoff Gallery...Cry of the Loon Art Gallery.....Davidson and Daughters Contemporary Art...Studio E Gallery  (Palm Beach Gardens,Fl.)....Maine Art and Sculpture Gallery (Kennebunkport,Me.)...Susan Maarsch Gallery..UNE Gallery...Three Fish Gallery.. and now Curator of  Living Jewish Maine Artists at The Maine Jewish Museum.All my training evolved thru  many years of experience..



Mark H. C. Bessire became Director of the Portland Museum of Art on March 1, 2009. Previously, Bessire was the Director of the Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, Maine  Before his time at Bates College, Mr. Bessire was  the Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art at the Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine from 1998 to 2003.

Bessire holds a M.B.A. from Columbia University, a M.A. in art history from Hunter College, and a B.A. from New York University. He was a Helena Rubinstein Fellow at the Whitney Museum of Art and a Fulbright Fellow in Tanzania. He has published widely, including three books with MIT Press, has organized numerous traveling exhibitions, and has participated on national art juries. He is active in local, community, and national public art programs and also lectures on museum studies.

Bessire is a founding board member of the non-profit organization Africa Schoolhouse, which is dedicated to building schools in rural Africa. He is a member of the Maine Arts Commission, the Board of Advisors at SPACE Gallery, and the University of Southern Maine Board of Visitors. He resides with his family in Portland.