At The Helm Anne Marie Purkey Levine supports artists, encourages public art

Anne Marie Purkey Levine supports artists, encourages public art

At The Helm

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Photo by Lauryn Hottinger

When Anne Marie Purkey Levine moved with her husband and two children to Portland from San Francisco in 2015, she knew that she wanted to combine her favorite professional interests—museum exhibition management and public art project management—into one business practice. “My goal is to support artists who want to venture into the public art field, but aren’t sure how,” Purkey Levine says. “This gives me a way to keep a foot in both the museum and public art fields, which will hopefully be a benefit to artists and clients.”

After 15 years working for municipalities, museums and nonprofit art institutions like the Art Institute of Chicago, San Francisco Arts Commission, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Purkey Levine sought a “more flexible schedule and time to spend with my family. I was also ready to take a risk and strike out on my own,” she says of her drive to start her own business. She launched AMPL Art Consulting in 2016, landing her first contract in February with the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston and becoming incorporated as an LLC in November.  

Some of AMPL Art Consulting’s clients have included the University of Maine, Fryeburg Elementary School and the Maine Arts Commission Percent for Arts Program, a state-funded public art program that provides 1 percent of all funds from public projects (including bonds) for art initiatives. Purkey Levine also partnered with Portland salon Akari to showcase and sell the work of local contemporary artists. “I’ve never done something like this before, and I’m excited to offer a non-traditional space in a time when there are limited options for local artists to show their work in Portland,” she says of the initiative. The Akari show, which launched on First Friday Art Walk in February, featured local artist Jared Haug in an exhibit titled “Ice Cubes,” a visual investigation into the properties of ice and its melting point. Haug freezes acrylic paint and water on canvas, which leaves an imprint as it melts, “creating abstract fields punctuated by the pigmented residue of where ice once existed.”

While she’s had great success so far finding clients through networking and word of mouth, one challenge Purkey Levine has faced is that many of the art nonprofits in Maine are small and don’t hire contractors on a regular basis. “I’ve had to look to the Boston area for clients, which is great experience, but not ideal in terms of distance and personal investment in the community,” she says.

Another challenge is the ebb and flow of Maine’s economy, which relies on tourism, and the ever-changing nature of freelance work. “The upside is that it has driven me to look for other ways to be involved in the local art community,” Purkey Levine says of her drive to stay engaged. As a result, she joined the board of TEMPOart Portland, a nonprofit that works to bring temporary, curated and site-specific public art installations to the Portland community. “I would like to integrate public art as a form of activism into my professional practice by facilitating more of these types of projects,” Purkey Levine says of both her consulting and volunteer work. “My hope is that through my projects I am directly or indirectly encouraging a broader and diverse range of artist voices.”

As she continues to build her business, Purkey Levine  hopes to maintain a sustainable roster of clients who appreciate her unique strengths and keep coming back for more. “I think what I’m offering is unique, because there aren’t many people who have both a museum and public art background. Both fields can learn much from each other, and I’d like to think I can have an impact as a conduit between the two.”

For more info, about Anne Marie Purkey Levine and AMPL Art Consulting, go to amplartconsulting.com.

Mercedes Grandin is a freelance writer, editor, English teacher and tutor. She lives in Brunswick with her husband Erik and their chocolate Labrador Fozzie. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, biking and exploring Maine’s midcoast by water.

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