The artist community in Maine continues to expand and evolve and Cait Guinta and Ned Roche of Chases Garage are a part of that change. The young duo has taken on the task of creating a space for artists to not only work, but a destination for art enthusiasts to see their work in a gallery setting and participate in ongoing workshops.
The building itself is a large 100-year-old auto garage they have converted into 9 studio spaces, a printmaking and ceramics workshop, and a cozy little gallery space in the town of York. Bustling with tourists in the summer, but sleepy in the winter, the couple has learned to use the changing climate to their advantage.
With their old Victorian house situated directly next door to the garage, their lives seem simplified and abundant with creativity and opportunity. Their approach to life, art, and community is one of respect, innovation, and appreciation. Read on for their story and a peek inside their spaces.
THE MAINERS: You both have a very unique living and working situation! You are co-owners and directors of Chase’s Garage which is both a gallery and workspace for various artists of multiple mediums, and your gorgeous home is literally right next door. Tell us how this all came to be?
CAIT + NED: Chases Garage was once an operating auto garage (and before, a blacksmith) and in 2000, Ned’s mother and father, Anita and Peter, bought the building in hopes of renovating one day. Anita said she envisioned one of her three boys doing something with it. In the meantime, the boys played SEGA and parked cards inside during the summer.
Ned and I met at the New Hampshire Institute of Art getting our BFA’s in illustration. After graduating, I moved with Ned back to his hometown (here in York Beach) with his family. We tried our best to continue our practice while working. I worked at Stonewall Kitchen, Kennedy Framing and with printmaker Don Gorvett and Ned continued working full-time as a locksmith for his family. The idea of renovating Chases simmered in the background. Anita and Peter planted the idea that we could potentially make this into our own business and we started to really think about it. As artists who recently graduated, we were missing our close-knit community, space and equipment, and the knowledgeable people who knew how to make it all work. So it began. It took about a year to renovate with unimaginable help from our friends, family and community members and we opened our doors in 2013. Shortly after, the house next door came up for sale and we couldn’t pass it up. We’re in our 6th year of operation and we’ve been in the house for three years... Every time we think about this it’s hard to believe how much we’ve done...
THE MAINERS: Both of you are artists as well. Tell us about your craft and how you balance running a gallery, studio, home, and your own careers as artists.
CAIT + NED: Balance might not be the right word, our lives are not that neat and tidy. Since opening Chases our focus has shifted from ourselves and our own work to establishing something larger that we aim to have sustain us and the community, long-term. It’s taken a lot of learning, improving and constant adjusting to try to regulate and keep each part of our lives in check. We rely heavily on support from our family and friends and are extremely grateful that a large part of our business involves working closely with talented, ambitious and caring people. It keeps us motivated and helps to keep us in check.
CAIT: Technically speaking, I hadn’t touched clay in years before starting Chases (which houses a full cone 10 reduction ceramics studio) and after gaining my BFA in illustration while working primarily on paper, I was desperate to start building in another dimension. Participating in Nahcotta’s Enormous Tiny Art exhibit has been the perfect way for me to re-learn the basics of ceramics and keep involved in the community as an artist outside of our own space. The prompt to make about ten works, approximately 10”x10”x10” or smaller, once or twice a year has been just enough for me to keep that part of my brain and body moving. About a year ago I claimed a studio that I now share with my brother who recently moved to the area and I’m actively working towards making more time to explore and create my own work. After taking a blacksmithing/steel-forming workshop at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts last summer with Andrew Hayes I’m dying to get welding. I want to get my planets off the wall and into the air.
NED: I don't have my life balanced. I’ve been working hard recently to find that balance. I’m starting to feel like I might be getting somewhere with this though. It’s always been taking life by the moment and reminding myself to enjoy it and not get stressed. I’ve been able to find ways to make work either by entering gallery shows, saying yes to commissions and very rarely doing them, or working out new class demos. But the whole thing has never been balanced. It’s more like trying to keep a falling platform balanced by running to whatever side will keep it from tipping. But it’s doing what I love, so even at its worst it’s still better anything I could have imagined. When things are at their worst I’d rather hate something I’m passionate about.
"We are constantly meeting and connecting with artists,
both emerging and established,and hope to act as a resource to bring them together and share their work."
Favorite spot to grab a quick lunch:
Anju in Kittery
Coffee or tea:
Best spot around York to chill in nature:
C+N: Mt. Agamenticus/2nd Hill, Long Sands in the winter, Cape Neddick at low tide (minus the funk)
Favorite recent read:
CAIT: I am, I am, I am by Maggie O’Farrell
Best thrifted find:
CAIT: My 80’s men’s LLBean Sweater
In 5 years you hope to:
C+N: Have a better grasp on “balance.”
If money was no object, what piece of art would you have:
CAIT: The steel weeble-wobble buoy seascape that Andrew Hayes made for the 2017 Haystack Auction. Still a little upset I missed out on that.
NED: That’s too hard, something big and sculptural maybe.
One word that sums up Maine:
THE MAINERS: When you found your home, it was in need of some sprucing up. Can you share a little about your renovation process? Any funny stories you could share?
CAIT + NED: We live in a folk Victorian that (I think) was built in the late 1800s and is right next-door to Chases. We couldn’t really turn down the location. Although the house was filled to the brim with stuff when we first saw it, we could tell it was in great shape and still had a lot of its original charm. The ceilings are a normal height, there’s an abundance of good-sized closets that will fit the standard clothes hanger, the wood floors are in great shape, the wood trim and bead-board was never painted, the layout is cozy, it has a pass-through window from the pantry to the dining room and best of all, a porcelain claw-foot tub. I was pretty much sold. With that said, it needed a fair amount of TLC and a good plan. We started in the fall of 2014 and finished up major renovations the following spring to rent out weekly during the summer. Ned, both his brothers, mother and father took any time they could from locksmithing and we spent the winter removing all the wallpaper, painting everything white, renovating both bathrooms (as the first floor bathroom was just a toilet with a washer and dryer and the only form of bathing in the house was the claw-foot tub...Luckily, at the top of the back stairs there was an unexplained empty space just on the other side of the bathroom which we eagerly converted into a walk-in shower) and lastly, and quite creatively, we pulled together a kitchen/pantry in a room that is roughly 12’x15’ and has seven doors…
THE MAINERS: Your home is a wonderful mix of traditional, retro, naturalistic, and modern. How did you approach filling the space?
CAIT: Thank you! The house has so much character, so we didn’t have to do much stylistically while renovating. Though renting the house in the summers has definitely influenced how we’ve filled the space. There is not a single thing in our home that I haven’t toiled over in regards to how a different family will interact with it. I am constantly moving things around, removing and adding. The feedback that we’ve gotten in the past two years from renters has been positive. It’s fun to hear how people react to our growing collection of artwork. Surprisingly, Ned meets a lot of people while locksmithing who end up being great connections for random furniture and house parts.
THE MAINERS: Do you have a favorite piece in your home?
CAIT + NED: That is a loaded question - there are too many favorites!
We have an amazing collection of ceramic cups and mugs (including but not limited to artists, Brian Buckland, Christopher Cooper, Mary Sweeney, Dustin Yager, Tom Doyle, Perry Haas, Adrian King, Tyler Gulden, David Ernster, Don Williams, Chris Gustin, Al Jager, Eric Maglio) and two of Kurt Anderson’s plates from last year's Salad Days at Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts that we use every day. Last year for my birthday Ned purchased an amazing sculpture from Andrew Hayes that hangs in our living room amongst work from Mark Hoffman, Meghan Samson, Ashley Normal, Michelle Morin, Beth Redstone, Scott Schnepf, Lynn Duryea, Jake Cassevoy, Jeremy Miranda, Tara Morin, Alyssa Grenning, John Greiner, Greg McGlashing, Dylan Haigh, Lyell Castonguay, Carand Burnet, William Arthur Lambros, Kayoung Lee, Allison May Kiphuth, Dina Andretta, Ian Decelli, Jameson Burke, Jameson Connor, Elena Betke-Brunswick, Bill Cass, Lindsay Oesterritter, Godeleine de Rosamel, Jessica Rosenkranz, two amazing sculptures from Malia Landis that we got at an auction for Potter’s for Peace during NCECA last year, some great posters from Supertouch: A Modern Gig Poster Retrospective at the 3S ArtSpace Gallery, I might be forgetting a few…
THE MAINERS: If you had unlimited money for furniture, art, and renovating, what are some things you would do differently?
CAIT + NED: We daydream of making some of our own furniture and buying some things from other artists, adding a greenhouse, refinishing the floors, fixing up the backyard, closing in the front porch, adding a fireplace and opening up the wall in between the dining room and living room.
THE MAINERS: In terms of style— artistically, interior-wise, and your personal style—how do they all connect and influence one another?
CAIT: They are all 100% connected and influenced by each other. I am constantly refining systems that make our lives more comfortable and make time and space for the things we love to do and share.
NED: It's pretty scattered. First I figure out some guidelines for myself, then I do my best with what material I’m using, and once in a while it comes out as finished, or maybe it has potential.
THE MAINERS: Talking about art... Being artists yourselves, it would seem important to own original pieces for your own home. How do you go about finding these and do you have any advice for younger people who want to start collecting?
CAIT + NED: It took us at least a year before hanging our artwork in the house. We lived in it for an entire winter with overwhelmingly bare walls. It was a great time to get comfortable in the house but we didn’t realize how much of a void we felt without it. Yes, the minimalism was nice (especially for cleaning) but we noticed a change our my moods as soon as we started hanging. Having artwork on the walls is like being surrounded with all of our friends. They're all comforting reminders that life is great and making things and sharing is what it’s all about. We are so excited to be able to share all of it with friends and family each time we get something new or we meet someone new. We are so excited when renters comment on a piece in our house and we get to share our story and the story of the artists. Our collection started with trinkets and we’ve slowly worked our way up to larger pieces of artwork. As artists, we do a lot of trades.
Our advice for younger people is just to start to recognize when you like something. Go look at art! Start talking to artists, we’re cool! We love to share! Start small or if you have the means, go big. It’s hard to stop collecting art once you start!
THE MAINERS: How has Maine influenced your lifestyle and work?
CAIT: Living in York Beach is a bit strange - this town is so seasonal. In the 10 weeks of summer everything is madness and then we pretty much have the rest of the year to ourselves. I love the dead of winter because I feel I can actually relax or hunker down and get some real work done. It also means I’ve got the whole beach to myself to surf or all of Mt. A to wander without running into someone. It’s hard to adjust sometimes though. My planet series ends up being a reflection on remembering the bigger picture.
FIND CAIT + NED HERE: