The Portland Mural Initiative has been a long-standing dream for founders Will Sears and Tessa O'Brien. They were able to get the project off the ground in January 2015, when they received a grant through the Kindling Fund, a new grant for Maine artists through SPACE Gallery and the Warhol Foundation. Our aim is to paint several permanent murals around the city of Portland every summer, creating a walkable tour of the murals. We hope to grow the project annually, with a five-year plan to host an annual mural painting conference in August 2020.
Will Sears, Co-Founder / Curator
Will Sears was born and raised in Philadelphia, where he began making art at an early age. He received a BFA after studying painting at Syracuse University. He now lives and works in Portland, where he runs a successful sign-painting business. You can see his hand-painted signs and advertisements adorning the facades of several local businesses and restaurants. He worked as a gallery assistant at Aucocisco, where he met many great Maine artists, and gained insight into the contemporary art world. Sears maintains a regular studio practice, and is an active part of numerous creative projects around town.
Tessa Greene O'Brien, Co-Founder / Curator
Tessa was born in midcoast Maine, and grew up surrounded by woods, fields, ocean, and artists. The landscape and the people continue to inspire her work. She graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in studio art, and went on to spend the next 10 years traveling the country doing art production for music festivals. During this time she worked closely with teams of artists to design and implement many large scale murals, installations, and collaborative projects. She gained extensive experience managing volunteers, operating lifts, and overseeing project timelines and budgets.
Today she lives and works in Portland, Maine, where she has a small specialty painting business, and is pursuing an MFA at Maine College of Art.