The Power of Public Art: Insights from Jessica Muise at Kegs & Issues

At the recent Kegs & Issues event hosted by the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce on January 31, 2024, Jessica Muise, the Interim Executive Director of TEMPOart, took the stage to share profound insights into the transformative power of public art. As the driving force behind TEMPOart’s mission to enrich Portland through temporary public art and community connection, Muise illuminated the audience with compelling narratives and tangible takeaways.

The Power of Accessible Art

Muise emphasized TEMPOart’s unwavering commitment to making art accessible to all, dismantling barriers that often hinder engagement with transformative artistic experiences. By offering free and inclusive art installations, TEMPOart ensures that the profound impact of art is available to everyone, irrespective of socioeconomic status or educational background. Through collaborative partnerships with educational and cultural institutions, each project becomes a beacon of inspiration, fostering learning opportunities for individuals of all ages and backgrounds.

Community Connection Through Creativity

A central theme of Muise’s discourse was the role of public art as a vital bridge, uniting diverse communities and catalyzing dialogue. TEMPOart’s projects serve as dynamic platforms for shared experiences, sparking conversations that transcend societal boundaries and norms. By igniting a sense of wonder and curiosity, public art cultivates connections that endure long after the installations are removed, enriching the fabric of community life.

Creative Economy and Economic Impact

Muise shed light on TEMPOart’s participation in the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 Study, which underscored the profound economic and social contributions of the arts and culture sector in Portland. With staggering figures revealing $86 million in economic activity, job creation, and government revenue, the study affirmed the indispensable role of the arts in fostering prosperity and vitality within the community. Muise urged support for local artists and initiatives, emphasizing the transformative potential of the arts as a driver of communal growth and well-being.

Joining the Movement

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, TEMPOart relies on charitable contributions to uphold its mission of making public art accessible to all. Muise passionately invited attendees to join TEMPOart on its journey of cultivating art as a transformative force, uniting communities and inspiring positive change.

About TEMPOart

TEMPOart is dedicated to commissioning temporary public art that sparks dialogue, builds community, and inspires collective imagination. With each project, TEMPOart aims to make the power and possibility of art free, open, and inclusive, offering transformative experiences to individuals of all backgrounds. Through collaborative partnerships and charitable contributions, TEMPOart remains committed to enriching Portland through the transformative power of public art.

Meet Jessica Muise

Jessica Muise brings over 15 years of experience in the arts and cultural sector to her role as Interim Executive Director of TEMPOart. With a diverse background as a multidisciplinary artist, educator, advocate, and advisor, Muise is passionate about leveraging the arts as tools for social change. As a visionary leader, Muise continues to guide TEMPOart towards its mission of fostering community connection and inspiring positive transformation through public art.

Thank you to Will Wohler of Wohler & Co for amazing photos of this event.

TEMPOart at Portland Chamber’s Kegs & Issues

Join TEMPOart at Kegs & Issues
Wednesday January 31, 4:30-6:30PM at AURA

Don’t miss the January Kegs & Issues as the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce welcomes @tempomaine Portland Executive Director Jessica Muise to discuss their mission of “creating art that sparks dialogue, builds community, and inspires our collective imagination”.

Through their public art installations, which feature no cost or need for instructions, TEMPOart works to create vibrant and inclusive communities with an appreciation for art, each other, and the beautiful place we call home.
These temporary (1-2 year) art instillations give artists the chance to let their work speak, while transforming public spaces into centers of wonder, discussion, and deeper thought about the world we share. We hope to see you there!

For registration please visit:

Support Public Art in Your Community

TEMPOart is a resilient, strategic, and growing organization, and we need your support to continue to thrive.

We know there are many worthwhile organizations seeking your support this year. Every dollar contributed to TEMPOart has a meaningful impact, and is an investment in free accessible public art for everyone. Your support sparks dialogue, builds community, and inspires our collective imagination!

If you’ve already made a gift, thank you! If you haven’t, please consider making your tax-deductible gift by December 31 to help us reach our goals.

Alice Spencer

TEMPOart Founder and Chair

TEMPOart is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that relies on donations from individuals like you. Thank you for helping to make Portland, ME a public art city!

Empowering Youth Through Public Art: Celebrating TEMPOart’s partnerships

We are grateful through our partnerships to reach youth across Portland with free education programs inspired by the public art we commission. This initiative aims to inspire creativity, curiosity, and a deeper appreciation for the transformative power of public art. Here are some recent photos from our program with students at the Reiche Elementary School led by our partner Side x Side.

The program kicked off with a memorable event, as enthusiastic students visited the vibrant sculptures if Carousel Cosmos by Chris Miller. This provided a unique opportunity for the youth to engage with art, learn about the talented artist behind the installation, and gain insight into the stories and inspiration behind the piece. The excitement and curiosity among the students was palpable. Students responded with collaborative play and creative drawings.

As we celebrate the success of our partnership programs this year, we extend our gratitude to everyone involved—artists, educators, and community members—for their support. Together, we are making a positive impact on the lives of young individuals, fostering a love for art and our public spaces.

Tour TEMPOart’s current commissions

Time for a public art adventure

Explore TEMPOart’s current installations across the City of Portland with a tour on the Creative Portland App!

Beneath the Forest, Beneath the Sea by Pamela Moulton
Carousel Cosmos by Chris Miller
Map of current TEMPOart installations
Gathering Stones by Jesse Salisbury

Support TEMPOart on GivingTuesday

Since founding in 2015, TEMPOart commissions and programs have attracted:

  • 500,000 visits
  • 15,000 event attendees
  • 4,000 youth served by programs

This Giving Tuesday, we are reflecting on TEMPOart’s 2023 commission of Carousel Cosmos, by Chris Miller, installed on the Western Promenade.

In other news, TEMPOart was honored to receive Coffee By Design’s 2023 Rebel Blend award, along with four other organizations serving artists in Maine. We are also pleased to share the results of the latest Arts & Prosperity Study from Americans for the Arts, highlighting the positive impact public art programs like ours have on our economy, community, and health.

As a community organization, we are excited to be developing a new strategic plan and invite your input. If you have two minutes, we would truly appreciate your response to our audience survey. Your responses will help shape our shared future and inspire our collective imagination.

We hope you’ll consider supporting temporary public art that sparks dialogue, builds community, and inspires our collective imagination this Giving Tuesday.

May the coming weeks be filled with boundless imagination, creativity, and the magic of Carousel Cosmos. We look forward to announcing our 2024 project plans soon!

Alice Spencer

TEMPOart Founder and Chair

2024 Public Art Commission Blog Series

Announcing TEMPOart’s 2024 Commission Site Location: Back Cove Trail

TEMPOart is thrilled to commission a temporary public art piece for Back Cove Trail and Park to be installed in June 2024. Until then, we are sharing early previews of the site, artists, and proposed work leading up to our fundraising event CATALYST in the spring of 2024 where we will announce the artists. We look forward to inviting you to a Community Opening in June 2024! You can learn more about the trail and amenities on the Portland Trails website.

The site for the 2024-25 TEMPOart project is a grassy area bordering the Back Cove Trail on the southern border of Back Cove. It is adjacent to the sign for the start of the Back Cove Trail. It is bordered on one side by the cove and, on the other, by the trail and a large parking lot accessed from the Preble Street Extension. The site commands a 360 degree view of the Cove and the Portland City skyline. The cove is a tidal estuary flowing into Casco Bay and the Gulf of Maine at its northeast corner.

The Gulf of Maine has been cited as one of the fastest warming bodies of water in the world. The Trail is a 3 mile, multi-use path. A tree-lined, stone dust path travels along the edge of the cove basin. It is home to many species of birds, aquatic plants, and other wildlife. There are abundant opportunities for birding, biking, running, and walking. Close to 200,000 people use the path each year. In addition, the adjacent Preble Street Extension roadway is a major automobile thoroughfare in the City of Portland.

History of the Site
A 340-acre circular tidal basin, Back Cove held Portland’s industrial waste and residential sewage in the 1800s. Then in 1893, James Phinney Baxter, after a long and very successful business career, became Portland’s mayor and brought with him a dream of an impressive park system, not unlike Boston’s. Consulting with the firm Olmsted, Olmsted and Eliot, Baxter proposed a “City Beautiful” that would enhance both Portland’s economic growth and her natural beauty with a connecting series of parks, waterways, and roadways. Over the next quarter century, amidst numerous political battles, Baxter oversaw the successful clean-up of the Back Cove and achieved his vision with the 1920 opening of Back Cove Boulevard (now named after James Phinney Baxter as Baxter Boulevard).

The original fifty Linden trees that line the Boulevard were planted on Arbor Day in 1920, each labeled with a brass plate with the name of one who died in World War I. Since then, the American Legion has contributed funds to add trees to the Linden tree legacy. Many of the originally designed structures, including the granite ellipse with benches and sundial that grace the west side of the Vannah Avenue intersection and the cobble gutters, remain as part of Baxter’s legacy. In 1989, Baxter Boulevard was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This important landscape is protected under Portland’s historic preservation ordinance along with Deering Oaks, Lincoln Park, Eastern and Western Promenade.

We are excited to share more details on the project as we get closer to June 2024. For more information on how to support this new commission contact Interim Executive Director Jessica Muise via email at

Thank you to the City of Portland and Portland Trails for supporting this project.

The Arts & Prosperity Study 6 Highlights Remarkable Impact on Portland’s Economy

In October 2023, the results of the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 Study (AEP6) were released, offering a profound insight into the incredible economic and social impact of the arts and culture sector in Portland, Maine. The findings from this groundbreaking study revealed an astounding $86 million in economic activity generated by the nonprofit arts and culture organizations, showcasing the vital role that the arts play in building more vibrant and livable communities.

The AEP6 study, conducted by Americans for the Arts (AFTA), disclosed that the Greater Portland nonprofit arts and culture industry contributed a total of $86 million to the local economy in 2022. This impressive figure consisted of $58.2 million in expenditures by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and an additional $27.8 million in event-related spending by their audiences.

What makes these numbers even more impressive is the impact on job creation and government revenue. The arts and culture sector in Portland supported 1,872 jobs and generated $20.7 million in local, state, and federal government revenue. The spending by arts and culture audiences further fueled the local economy by providing valuable commerce to local merchants.

In a recent press release, Dinah Minot, the Executive Director of Creative Portland, expressed her gratitude to the participating nonprofit cultural organizations and emphasized the study’s importance in shedding light on the arts’ role in Portland’s economic, social, and creative wellbeing. She emphasized that the arts and culture sector is a key driver for Greater Portland’s economy, underscoring its undeniable value to the community.

The AEP6 study is part of a nationwide effort to document the economic and social contributions of nonprofit arts and culture organizations. Nationally, the study unveiled that America’s nonprofit arts and culture sector is a staggering $151.7 billion industry, supporting 2.6 million jobs and generating $29.1 billion in government revenue. These numbers highlight the significance of the arts as an economic driver of vibrant communities not only in Portland but throughout the United States.

The AEP6 study in Portland was a collaborative effort that spanned over a year. Data was meticulously collected from both the participating nonprofit organizations and the audiences attending performing arts events. This comprehensive approach allowed for a holistic assessment of the sector’s economic impact, encompassing everything from organizational expenses to audience spending.

Several nonprofit organizations played a pivotal role in contributing to the study’s findings, including TEMPOart and the Portland Public Art Commission. The involvement of many other nonprofit organizations showcases the collective effort that made this study possible and underscores the sector’s commitment to transparency and accountability.

The Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 Study has undeniably emphasized the profound economic and social impact of the arts and culture sector in Portland. The impressive $86 million in economic activity, job creation, and government revenue generated by this sector reinforces the importance of supporting and sustaining local artists and arts initiatives.

As these findings resonate locally and nationally, they serve as a powerful reminder of the vital role the arts play in building more livable communities, fostering creativity, and driving economic growth. The AEP6 study in Portland demonstrates that the arts are not just a cultural expression but a fundamental driver of prosperity and vitality in our society. TEMPOart is proud to contribute to that vitality through our mission to commission and support public art that sparks dialogue, builds community, and inspires our collective imagination.

Links to learn more:

AEP6 Results Summary

Press Release: Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 Study Results for Portland, ME

Summary of Findings: Portland, ME AEP6 Results 

Complete Final Report: Portland, ME AEP6 Results

TEMPOart Wins the Rebel Blend Award in 2023

TEMPOart was awarded the 2023 Rebel Blend Award, a generous grant awarded to Maine-based artists and small arts organizations by Coffee by Design (CBD). This award has been a symbol of support for the vibrant arts community in Maine since 1998, contributing to the state’s artistic and cultural landscape in a profound way.

From CBD’s founder and owner Mary Allen Lindemann about the October 17 award ceremony, “This morning was awesome, we loved hearing from the Rebel Blend Fund grantees. One of the most amazing things is that we know, thanks to your help through your purchases of Rebel Blend ($1 from every pound brewed or sold goes to the Rebel Blend Fund) we are able to help share often untold stories. This year you raised $14,800 to share with five great non-profits, selected by a committee of our team members. To date we’ve given over $125,000! Thank you Phil, Dylan, Alina and Sam for reviewing the many great applications. And congratulations to “Conversations in Compassion,” Dyke March Maine, Four Directions Maine in support of the Wabanaki Artisan Fund, The Yellow Tulip Project EXPRESS and TEMPOart!”

The Rebel Blend Fund: A Remarkable Initiative

The Rebel Blend Fund is not your typical arts grant program. It’s a powerful partnership between CBD and local artists, where every pound of their best-selling Rebel Blend coffee sold or brewed in their coffeehouses contributes to a fund that, in turn, fuels artistic endeavors in Maine. For each pound of Rebel Blend coffee sold, CBD donates $1 to the Rebel Blend Fund, creating a sustainable source of support for local artists.

The Rebel Blend committee, comprising CBD team members, plays a crucial role in identifying proposals that may have been overlooked by conventional funding sources. They seek projects that challenge the status quo, spark thought-provoking conversations, and have the potential to engage people from all corners of the state.

Since its inception in 1998, the Rebel Blend Fund has been a beacon of hope for Maine artists and small arts organizations. With over $100,000 in grants awarded to support local artists, it has played a significant role in nurturing the creative spirit of the community. These grants have enabled artists to pursue innovative and meaningful projects that might not have seen the light of day without this support.

Empowering Local Artists

To be considered for Rebel Blend funding, artists and projects must be based in Maine, reinforcing the fund’s commitment to local talent. Applicants are required to submit comprehensive project descriptions, outlining how the grant money would benefit their creative endeavors. Beyond the financial support, the Rebel Blend Fund offers significant marketing benefits to the recipients. The winners’ stories are covered by local media, and their accomplishments are celebrated through an annual press conference and social media channels, amplifying their impact on the community.

In their pursuit of supporting the arts in Maine, CBD expresses gratitude to their partners at Androscoggin Bank for their ongoing promotional support for the Rebel Blend Fund. This partnership amplifies the impact of the fund, extending its reach and ensuring that local artists receive the support they need.

TEMPOart’s win of the Rebel Blend Award in 2023 exemplifies the fund’s mission to empower artists who push the boundaries of conventional art forms. TEMPOart, an organization dedicated to bringing art into public spaces, embodies the spirit of the Rebel Blend Fund with their innovative projects that engage and inspire the Maine community.

The Rebel Blend Award is a testament to the enduring commitment of Coffee By Design to the arts community in Maine. Since 1998, it has been a source of encouragement and support for local artists and small arts organizations. With TEMPOart’s 2023 win, we celebrate not just a single artist or project but the enduring power of community support for the arts in Maine. The Rebel Blend Fund continues to foster creativity, dialogue, and cultural growth in the state, leaving a lasting impact on the Maine arts scene.

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