(NEWS CENTER) -- Artists can find inspiration in a lot of unexpected places, and one group has decided to let happy hour dictate its designs.
Since its inception about seven years ago, the Metals Collective has held shows in bars in the Portland area. The group's latest display is in a Portland bar called the Bearded Lady's Jewel Box, and the theme is cocktail regalia. From bar tools to accessories, the show titled "Cocktail Accoutrements" features metal pieces that are meant to pair perfectly with your favorite spirits. Each creation has a story, and designers hope you'll take some time explore while you sip on what inspired them.
"We have many makers, some are self-taught, some are from different schools," says Metals Collective President Maria Wolff. "To become a member you just have to approach us. Show us what you do, show us your passion and show us your dedication."
This is the third show the group has held at the Bearded Lady's Jewel Box, and it's part of a bigger mission to inspire artists like Naomi Grace McNeill keep up with her craft.
"Honestly I've tried working in other mediums, and it's just not quite right for me anymore," says McNeill.
She has a day job, but metal is what keeps her working into the night in her home studio, and it's also what strengthened her bond with her husband, Gabriel McNeill. Both are featured in the Metals Collective show. Naomi worked on cocktail picks inspired by honey and fruit-filled picnic drinks, while Gabe hacked into something motivated by Maine history.
"In the 1800's, early 1900's, Oakland, Maine was one of the largest ax making facilities in the world," says Gabriel McNeill.
His current passion for creating Maine-made axes led him to dream up a ring -- the only thing that would grant you access to a fictional, prohibition-era speakeasy called the "Lumber Sectual."
The display is grabbing the attention of bar goers, and drawing in new customers, all part of the Collective's mission to help support the venues that support art.
Eventually, the group hopes to have its own piece of real estate in Portland's arts district so metalsmiths will always have a place to put their creativity to the test.
"My goal is to create a cooperative space where people, where other makers, you know, people that are graduating from Maine College of Art have a space to go and work that's affordable, and that keeps our craft alive in Portland, in the greater Portland area," says Wolff.
There are more than 20 members in the Metal Collective, and not all of them are featured in the show at the Bearded Lady's Jewel Box. Maine College of Art is hosting a retrospective of the Metals Collective's work. It opens on July's First Friday, and you'll get to see work from all of the group shows for the past seven years. Event details can be found by following this link: https://www.metalscollective.com/events/