Summer 2023 Program Recap: Inspiring Imagination Through Public Art

At TEMPOart, we believe in the transformative power of public art and its potential to inspire innovative learning opportunities for people of all ages. Our commitment to fostering creativity, community engagement, and collective imagination is at the heart of our mission. This summer, our programs once again brought the magic of public art to life, thanks to our valuable partnerships and the incredible Carousel Cosmos by Chris Miller, a TEMPOart commission on the Western Promenade on view from June 2023 – June 2024.

In 2023, we were delighted to partner with Chris Miller, the artist behind Carousel Cosmos, who played a pivotal role in our summer programs. Chris didn’t just share his art; he connected with our students, sparking their creativity and answering their inquisitive minds. Through engaging discussions and personal insights, Chris provided a unique opportunity for young artists to explore the world of public art and understand the stories that have shaped his incredible creations.

At the outset, young artists were faced with a delightful dilemma – how should they interact with these lifelike sculptures? Should they pet them? Could they ride them, even though they were inanimate? These questions evolved into captivating conversations about the roles of animals and humans in different societies, giving birth to a world of imagination.

As the summer camp progressed, our budding artists began to visualize a world where animals had the freedom to move like humans. They sketched vibrant scenes of the Western Promenade as if Carousel Cosmos’ animals had sprung to life. They didn’t stop at drawing; they got hands-on experience by sculpting their own animals, both real and imagined, from clay.

Our young artists demonstrated remarkable creativity by crafting 3-D sculptural hats, each adorned with a paper-mache character or creature, inspired by the Carousel Cosmos. Others took on the challenge of creating articulated cardboard puppets of the carousel animals, adding a new layer of artistic expression. Our programs transcended traditional artistic boundaries as participants wove new mythological stories and performances to accompany their unique creations. These captivating narratives were then shared with friends and family, bringing the joy of art into our broader community.

Chris Miller designed Interdimensional Craft Kits, assembled by Chickadeeds volunteers, for pediatric patients at the nearby Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. This collaboration extended the reach of public art to those in need in our community, providing a ray of hope and creativity during their hospital stay.


Here’s what our partners had to say about the impact of the 2023 summer programs:

Mayo Street Arts: “Our students were absolutely enamored with the sculptures. Students’ imaginations were sparked as they tried their own hands at sculpting animals—both real and imagined—from clay back at MSA during the final week of camp.”

Side x Side Oak Street Studios: “Students created mythological stories to go along with their creations, drawing inspiration from their time spent with the installation and conversations with Chris Miller.”

Portland Stage Company: “Participants explored the work with all of their senses, met the artist, built narrative and physical performance inspired by the work, and created a unique performance that they shared with their friends and family on the final day of camp.”

In 2023, our summer programs not only connected youth with creativity and community but also extended the joys of public art to those who needed it most. We are excited about the continued impact of TEMPOart and look forward to many more seasons of artistic inspiration and community engagement. Thank you for your support in making this possible.

Photos courtesy of program partners Side x Side, Oak Street Studios, and Chickadeeds

Interdimensional Craft Kits for the Children’s Hospital

Thank you to artist Chris Miller @npdworkshop for working to bring his TEMPOart commissioned work Carousel Cosmos to everyone. Carousel Cosmos is a public art installation, and public art is for everyone. Carousel Cosmos is for Everyone, in all of time and all of space. If for any reason you can’t visit the animals in person, they can visit you.

Chris Miller (the artist behind @tempomaine‘s Carousel Cosmos currently installed on Portland’s Western Prom) designed the Interdimensional Craft Kits that chickadeeds volunteers assembled for pediatric patients in the adjacent Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital!

On September 10, 2023 chickadeeds volunteers gathered on Portland’s Western Prom. Together, we:

❤️ FELT the power of public art connecting communities and sparking dialogue, thanks to @tempomaine + artist Chris MIller (@npdworkshop)’s colorful, current installation Carousel Cosmos

🤝 ASSEMBLED 100 Interdimensional Craft Kits (inc 3D models of Miller’s extraordinary Carousel Cosmos animals, galaxy and ski origami papers, sparkling pipe cleaners, colorful pom pom bursts, + paper straws with stars) for pediatric patients in the neighboring BBCH @mainemedicalcenter

🙏 HEARD from BBCH nurse Mary Labady about how craft kits are just one of the ways our medical professionals can help their patients feel happy and cared for during their hospital stay

Download an Interdimensional Craft Kit for your family via this link! The kit offers an extraordinary opportunity for kids and families to create your own projects with Chris’ 3D animal models, explore concepts about our place in the cosmos, and write your own artist statement.

We are grateful to chickadeeds for partnering with TEMPOart to extend access to public art!

The magic of Carousel Cosmos captured by Buoy Media

TEMPOart’s commitment to bringing art to the public sphere has been further solidified by Carousel Cosmos by Chris Miller, commissioned in 2023. The installation has quickly become a focal point for the community, creating a space where people can gather, appreciate art, and connect with each other. It has redefined the way public spaces are used, highlighting the importance of art in enhancing our daily lives.

Thanks to Buoy Media, we have captured some of the magic of Carousel Cosmos to share with you through the interwebs, enjoy!

Carousel Cosmos making headlines

Carousel Cosmos by Chris Miller, a TEMPOart commission, has been turning heads in Portland. With captivating and imaginative elements, this remarkable installation has captured the attention of both the media and the community. Let’s take a closer look at the headlines it has been making in 2023.

This summer, Carousel Cosmos took center stage, and its enchanting, lifelike creatures are leaving an indelible mark on the Western Promenade. The Bangor Daily News aptly described the installation highlighting the awe and wonder it has brought to the city. The article “Prehistoric creatures have popped up on Portland’s Western Promenade” delves into the magical transformation of this public space, where animals from another era seem to have come to life.

Before Carousel Cosmos animals roamed the Western Promenade again, it was anticipated as a source of of joy and creativity. The Portland Press Herald introduced this exciting project full of ‘friendly monsters” and noted each animal bench’s “support of their own“, highlighting the art’s friendly, approachable, and curious nature.

Carousel Cosmos has not only brought vibrant art to the heart of Portland but has also encouraged meaningful discussions about art’s role in our lives. As it continues to make headlines, this new work by Chris Miller stands as a testament to the enduring impact of public art on our city’s culture and identity. If you haven’t experienced Carousel Cosmos yet, be sure to visit the Western Promenade and let your imagination run wild amidst these intergalactic creatures.

Scene from the Community Opening for Carousel Cosmos, June 2023

Carousel Cosmos Community Opening

You are invited to our 2023 Community Opening! 

Join TEMPOart and artist Chris Miller on Thursday, June 15 at the installation site on the Western Promenade to celebrate the opening of Carousel Cosmos. There will be music by The Maine Squeeze Accordion Ensemble and fun for the whole family!

This celebration is free and open to the public.

This event is weather dependent. The rain date is
THURSDAY, JUNE 22 from 5:30-6:30pm.

Here’s a sneak peek of the animals in Chris’s workshop!