Every so often I wind up route 24 along the Merrymeeting Bay in mid coast Maine to Richmond on the Kennebec River. The Merrymeeting Bay is an inland salt water bay where six rivers including two of the three major tributaries in Maine the Androscoggin and the Kennebec meet before emptying into Casco Bay. The area is much touted by bird watchers as a migratory stop.
Richmond is an old Russian settlement on the Kennebec chaudierre with lots of interesting architecture and a revitalized arts and crafts movement sparking its light into the old mills and storefronts of this small town. A short hop from Bath, Brunswick and Hallowell, it is slightly off the beaten track, but as every one knows in the Maine tourist season it is good to grab a gazetteer and stray off coastal Route One in the summer. Just follow the river north on route 24 and when you get to waterfront park turn left up the hill.
Joselyn Walsh's Blue Moose Emporium is located on the main st in downtown Richmond nestled between a couple of other galleries and an ice cream shop. It is the brick and mortar component of Joselyn's etsy stores bluemoose and bluemoosearts. The store is guarded by a short suit of armor, brimming flower boxes and a large blue moose. The old cement steps have been tastefully mosaic- ed between the treads and risers- one of Joselyn's arts of choice. Once inside, I have difficulty leaving although Joselyn reports that people do come in unawares thinking that is a train station or drug store and do leave after glancing at a few displays.
The Blue Moose experience is synonymous with "Art is Life, Life is Art". Joselyn began her Blue Moose journey in Carbondale, Colorado on the western slopes of the Rockies 30 miles down valley from Aspen. The region was steeped in the spirit of the Ute indians and she used to ski down to the bus stop. Her mother and grandmother were very creative, always "painting pictures" or crocheting. The Aspen area had great art festivals. Engaged in varsity sports, she never had a lot of time for art, until she wrecked her knee and was forced to sit still for a bit. So she tried her hand at all kinds of arts and crafts and discovered its healing properties. This is where her dream to make a living as an artist began and to spread the joy of creativity to all who drop in her store. She has been inspired by other artists and has a wonderful sense of color and composition not to mention her fanciful sense of humor and big heart.
The Emporium has gone through some changes this year, there are permanent work tables now to the right of the door backed by shelves of supplies. Joselyn can be found working on mosaics and collages there most days. Towns people and tourists alike have been known to drop by, pay for supplies and put together a collage on the spot or just sit and chat for a bit. Her altered artist kits can be found in her etsy store and in the emporium, but she also offers classes in the evenings. She has had classes in mask making, mosaic work, collage and what ever she and/or her friends feel like teaching. Recently people joined her class for 10 dollars to make cards and tags poeple travel quite a ways to come to her classes. Aside from her work tables there is a little sitting area in the mosaic department. Whenever I visit the store people drop in to buy a card or journal or just sit a while and chat The Blue Moose Emporium is as much a community as it is a store/workshop /gallery. Joselyn always has news of all things creative in the little town of Richmond. As a matter of fact, it was Joselyn who turned me on to etsy.
The colorful little store is full of unusual one of a kind gifts made by Joselyn, local artists/crafts people and some folks she has met on etsy. There is a great selection of cards and magnets, wildly beaded and doo dadded mosaics, be dazzled hats, wind chimes and light catchers, beads, pins, needle work, paintings sculpture, pottery and stained glass. If you can't make it to Richmond visit Blue Moose on etsy.