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.
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 South Portland, where he is the art director for Oxbow Brewing Company in addition to creating and co-running Better Letter Hand Painted signs. 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 Greene O’Brien earned her MFA from Maine College of Art in 2016, and her BS from Skidmore College, studying painting at both schools. She was the 2017 recipient of the Joseph A Fiore Painting Prize, and recently completed residencies at Hewnoaks, The Stephen Pace House, and Vermont Studio Center. Tessa is a sign painter with Better Letter Hand Painted Signs, & maintains a studio painting practice at her Fort Andross studio in Brunswick, ME. She lives with her husband Will Sears & their good old dog Bella in South Portland.