Maine-Aomori Printmaking Society presents a retrospective exhibition at Portland Public Library in September

Friends of Aomori and the Lewis Gallery at Portland Public Library is pleased to present a retrospective exhibition of the prints in the MAPS (Maine-Aomori Printmaking Society) for a retrospective exhibition in September of 2021. The exhibition will feature 105 prints by artists from Maine and Aomori, Japan collected and exhibited throughout the state and prefecture during the MAPS project from 20015-2020.

A full-color catalog will accompany the exhibition. Receive a copy of the catalog as a gift with your tax-deductible donation to Friends of Aomori. Please see details below.

The catalog essay reads:

MAPS – Maine-Aomori Printmaking Society – is a project born out of tragedy. On a stormy night in October of 1889 the ship Cheseborough from Bath, Maine was caught in a fierce storm and ran aground off the coast of Shariki, Japan, now a part of Aomori Prefecture. The ship was destroyed, but some of the crew were rescued and cared for by Japanese villagers. The memory of this event launched a unique and long-standing relationship between Maine and Aomori that has lasted for more than 130 years. The relationship was formalized in 1989 in an official sister state agreement, and the people of Maine and Aomori have continued to developed and enrich their communities through the power of intercultural and personal connections.  

The artistic medium of printmaking has deep roots in both Maine and Aomori. MAPS was launched by Friends of Aomori – the all-volunteer nonprofit organization that supports the relationship in Maine – as a vehicle to connect printmaking artists from both countries through exhibitions, workshops, and delegation visits. For the first five years of the project the enthusiasm and dedication for MAPS led to a robust schedule of exhibitions in communities throughout Maine and Aomori, delegation visits by artists to both countries, and a second printmaking exchange program for K-6 students.

Now at the end of its fifth year, MAPS has grown into a multi-tiered project, presenting printmaking, American and Japanese culture, and the fascinating history of the Maine-Aomori relationship to our communities, connecting artists, patrons, and exhibition venues across the sea. “Six years have passed between us, and the solid course of the relationship continues to find rewarding steps forward,” writes Jiro Ono, President and Director of Munakata Shiko Memorial Museum of Art, who manages the project in Japan, “who could have predicted the voluminous benefit at the beginning of the project?” 

At its core, MAPS is the dynamic collection of 105 prints included in this catalog, generously donated by participating artists. This collection serves as a snapshot of the state of contemporary printmaking in Maine and Aomori, and as a map for future cultural projects in our enduring relationship.  

Jeff Badger, President, Friends of Aomori

MAPS is supported by the Consulate-General of Japan in Boston, the Rines Thompson Fund, the Expansion Arts Fund of Maine Community Foundation, and individual donors. MAPS is made possible by the contributions of the artists, exhibition venues and is organized and curated by Friends of Aomori, and Jiro Ono, President and Director of Munakata Shiko Memorial Museum of Art.

The MAPS retrospective exhibition will be accompanied by a 76-page, full-color catalog featuring all of the prints in the MAPS collection. Get a copy of the catalog as a gift with your tax-deductible donation of $25 or more. Donate with Paypal or credit card by clicking below now. Include your address in the note for your complimentary copy.   

A Long Awaited Update, and a Call for MAPS Submissions!

As we are reaching a new, more controlled phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Friends of Aomori are returning to programming and outreach! All programming, fundraising, and events to benefit Friends had been on hold while the United States was in the midst of the pandemic, but we are excited to begin reaching out to the community once more. We will be updating our website and Facebook page with upcoming events we are planning, so please stay tuned!

Maine – Aomori Printmaking Society (MAPS) Call for Submissions

Calling all Maine Printmakers!

The Maine-Aomori Printmaking Society (MAPS) has an Open Call for prints for this years exchange. We welcome submissions from any artist currently residing in Maine, including artists already included in the MAPS collection. The form will close on July 2nd, and artists will be notified of their acceptance status by July 9th! Three submission per-artist are accepted.

Please submit your work through the following form:

EVENT: Join FOA President Jeff Badger and hear about Maine’s connection with Aomori

Join the Friends of Aomori President, and Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) Art Instructor, Jeff Badger on Wed, December 2, 2020 from 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM EST to hear about the overlapping projects between SMCC, the State of Maine, and Aomori, Japan.

From the Event Brite posting:

“Jeff Badger, Fine Arts Department Co-Chair and Global Studies Center Coordinator, will give a presentation about MAPS (Maine-Aomori Printmaking Society), an ongoing cultural exchange project with Aomori, Maine’s sister state in Japan. MAPS is a multi-tiered exchange project developed to share prints, exhibitions, and artist residencies between Maine and Aomori on an ongoing basis. This project has led to over twenty-five exhibitions, publications, and multiple delegation visits since it began in 2015.

Jeff will discuss the fascinating history of the relationship between Maine and Aomori which began with a shipwreck in 1889, and show images of the delegation visits, exhibitions, and woodblock prints by artists from Maine and Japan. He will discuss how his passion for cultural exchange informs his teaching and led to the founding the Global Studies Center at SMCC.”

To attend, please RSVP via this link:

MAPS 5 Installation at Monson Arts

Friends of Aomori is thrilled to announce that the 5th Collection of the Maine Aomori Printmaking Society (MAPS) is on display at the Monson Arts Gallery in Monson, Maine from now until January 15th, 2021. Just over one year ago these prints were shown in Aomori, which feels like a world away!

Monson Arts is a new artists residency and gallery located in Northern Maine at the edge of the Maine North Woods and nearby the Appalachian Trail. This is the first collaboration between Friends of Aomori and Monson Arts, and certainly not the last! While we cannot gather at the gallery together due to the on going COVID-19 pandemic, the gallery is open for visitors by appointment or, if you live in the area, you can walk by and see if it is open by chance.

For more information about the show, see this article by the Piscataquis Observer and this feature by Asia Matters for America

Click here to lean more about Monson Arts.

The MAPS 2020 collection features work by:

Lydia Badger, Stephen Burt, Susan Groce, David Harmon, Mary Hart, Emiko Kamada, Hitoshi Kikuchi, Osamu Kitamura, Michiko Kusakabe, Tadashi Saito, Hiroshi Takehana, Kiyohiro Toriyabe, Raegan Russell, Allison Derby Hildreth, Pilar Nadal, Noriyuki Ota, Lisa Pixley, Deloris A. White, David Wolfe, Tamiko Yamaya, and Tuya Yasuta.

MAPS is made possible by the generous support of the Rines-Thomspon fund of the Maine Community Foundation and Ocean House Gallery and Frame.

Message from the President & Board


Black Lives Matter

2020 has brought challenging times for all of us, and Friends of Aomori is no exception. Plans for workshops, exhibitions, exchange programs, and future delegation visits have been postponed or cancelled, and even with continued warm communications from our friends in Japan we feel more disconnected than usual from our work in supporting the Sister State relationship. Despite these challenges, the bonds between Maine and Aomori remain strong, and in time will be strengthened by our common experiences.

As we look toward the future, it is important to recognize the current moment in our own country. As a community of volunteers who study, teach, write about, advocate for, and create experiences that bring together diverse communities, Friends of Aomori is committed to learning from our shared humanity.

We believe that Black Lives Matter, and we condemn and reject systemic racism and discrimination.

For our friends in Japan, we recommend that you reach out to the Black Lives Matter movement happening in your part of the world, such as Black Lives Matter Kansai which has rallies, marches, and educational materials. They can also be found on Twitter.

You can also support the Japanese organization Black Creatives Japan

Another resource is The Open Letter Project on Anti-Blackness, which has letters you can send to friends and family explaining why Black Lives Matter to You.

The Japanese Version can be found here.


Until we can connect again, we wish you all good health and safe keeping.

In Solidarity,

The Friends of Aomori Board

COVID-19 UPDATE: Maine-Japan Printmaking Exchange Celebrates Five Years with Exhibition at Common Street Arts

Common Street Arts in Waterville will host a collection of prints by artists from Maine and Aomori, Japan beginning May 18th through July 18th in an online Virtual MAPS Exhibit!  The traveling exhibition is part of MAPS (Maine-Aomori Printmaking Society), a cultural exchange program sharing art and artists between Maine and Aomori. The MAPS initiative is celebrating five years of collaborative exhibitions and artist exchanges. MAPS will be on view online through the Common Street Arts social media accounts from April 13 to July 6. For more information, please see their website.

View the exhibit here:

Friends of  Aomori proud to announce that this exhibitions is made possible by the generous support of the Rines-Thompson fund of the Maine Community Foundation.

New Morning, Stephen Burt

Since 2015, Friends of Aomori and their partners in Japan, led by curators Jeff Badger and Jiro Ono, have coordinated the exchange of ten prints each year from artists in Maine and Aomori. The prints have been exhibited in Maine and Japan and the collection currently includes over a hundred works. The prints exchanged in 2019-2020 will be exhibited online through the Common Street Arts social media accounts from May 18th to July 18th. The same collection was shown at the Aomori Arts Pavilion in Japan during the Citizen Culture Days in October 2019, which was attended by an artist delegation from Maine that included five artists and curators included in the show. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with MAPS and look forward to showcasing this beautiful collection of prints. It’s a wonderful partnership and we are so pleased to be able to serve as a venue,” says Patricia King, Vice President of Waterville Creates.

錦石の浜  Nishiki-Ishi (Gemstone) Seashore
北村 収 Osamu Kitamura

The official relationship between Maine and Aomori has been in place for over 20 years, but the fascinating connection between the two states goes back to the wreck of a ship from Bath off the Japanese coast in 1889, resulting in a daring rescue of American sailors by Japanese villagers. In addition to MAPS, Friends of Aomori – the all-volunteer non profit that supports the partnership – also supports high-school exchange programs, educational workshops and events, and economic development opportunities.

“The MAPS print collection has grown into a beautiful representation of the diversity and
excellence in printmaking that can be found in both Maine and Aomori. Our goal is to exhibit this dynamic and growing collection all over the State of Maine. We are proud to partner with Common Street Arts to share this work with the people of Waterville and neighboring communities” says Badger.

The MAPS 2020 collection features work by: Lydia Badger, Stephen Burt, Susan Groce, David Harmon, Mary Hart, Emiko Kamada, Hitoshi Kikuchi, Osamu Kitamura, Michiko Kusakabe, Tadashi Saito, Hiroshi Takehana, Kiyohiro Toriyabe, Raegan Russell, Allison Derby Hildreth, Pilar Nadal, Noriyuki Ota, Lisa Pixley, Deloris A. White, David Wolfe, Tamiko Yamaya, and Tuya Yasuta.

MAPS is presented by Friends of Aomori and made possible by the generous support of the Rines-Thompson fund of the Maine Community Foundation and Ocean House Gallery and Frame.


Due to the coming snowstorm here in Maine, the Friends of Aomori party scheduled for tomorrow night (Dec. 05, 2019) at Oxbow has been cancelled. We hope to reschedule and celebrate with you soon!

At the party, we had planned to announce some big news: Friends of Aomori has been awarded a grant from the Rines/Thompson fund of the Maine Community Foundation to expand the Maine-Aomori Printmaking Society programs for 2020! This is an excellent ending to a great year, and we are appreciative of the support.

If you would like to support Friends, please consider a tax-deductible donation through our Paypal account, or purchase a print of “Fujisaki Apples” by our President Jeff Badger. Inspired by his recent trip to Aomori, Jeff Badger created this linocut with images of the famous apples of Fujisaki and Mt. Iwaki. The prints are for sale on his website, and a portion of each sale will be donated to Friends of Aomori.

Thank you for your ongoing support  and keep an eye out for the rescheduling of our Winter Event!


Join Us! Friends of Aomori Winter Event


December 02, 2019

5:30pm – 7:00pm

Oxbow Blending & Bottling

49 Washington Ave, Portland, ME 04101

Join the Volunteers of Friends of Aomori for a Social Event to celebrate the coming of Winter and the end of a successful year!

Meet the volunteers who give their time to supporting our Sister-State Relationship with Aomori, hear about the recent Delegation visit to Aomori, learn more about MAPS, and see how you too can become involved. Light refreshments will be provided.

We hope to see you there!

Maine artists visit Japan to launch fifth year of international art exchange with Aomori


(Portland, ME) — In late October of 2019, a group of five Portland-area artists visited Maine’s sister state of Aomori, Japan while communities in both countries hosted exhibitions of woodblock prints by artists from each country. The traveling exhibition, called MAPS (Maine-Aomori Printmaking Society), is a cultural exchange program launched in 2015 that facilitates the exchange of art and artists between the states. MAPS is a program of Friends of Aomori, the all-volunteer non-profit that supports the relationship between Maine and Aomori.

The delegation was led by Jeff Badger, President of Friends of Aomori, and included artists Pilar Nadal, David Wolfe, Lydia Badger, and Lisa Pixley.

While in Japan, the group were guests of honor at the opening reception of the Aomori Citizen’s Cultural Exhibition where the MAPS prints were featured along with works by other Aomori artists. Over the following week, the group participated in a full schedule of civic and cultural activities, including visits to local studios, galleries, museums, and meetings with citizens and officials, including the Mayor of Fujisaki, a town near Aomori that hosted the prints in 2017.

“The warmth of the people that we met was really striking,” said Pilar Nadal. “They were very excited to meet with us, talk with us about our artistic practice, and find out why we are interested in Aomori. Even when translation was lost, it was clear that they were excited to know who we were, and for us to know them.”

The group was hosted by Jiro Ono, director of the Munakata Shiko Memorial Museum of Art, one of the sites visited by the visiting artists. The artist Shikō Munakata (b. 1903-1975) is strongly associated with the Aomori region, and the museum visit was a highlight for the group. “He was a modern artist in a traditional culture.” says David Wolfe, suggesting that in Munakata’s work you can see influences of Cubism and other European Modernist movements in his imagery, but that the artist never strayed too far from his traditional Japanese techniques.

Ideas of artistic lineage were a common theme in the artist’s explorations and conversations throughout the week. Lisa Pixley remembers that “my first exposure to Japanese woodblock printing was in the study of turn-the-century artists in Paris. Without really knowing it, I was studying artists who were studying Japanese artists, because the prints were flooding into Europe at the time.” Pixley notes how “important it is to foster tradition in art medium. In Western culture we put a lot of onus on the individual, but not necessarily the lineage that they came from — the history, the community…the need to foster knowledge of artistic lineage was a huge takeaway for me as an educator.”

In 2016, Jiro Ono led a similar delegation of Japanese printmakers to Maine. During that visit, Pilar Nadal remembers with a smile how the visiting artists asked her why she needed all of the “stuff” in her well-equipped Portland printshop, as the Japanese artists generally print their traditional black-and-white hanga prints with simple handtools, rather than large mechanical presses. “When we went to Japan, what we saw in the spaces wasn’t equipment, but rather artwork, tools, and the important relationship between student and teacher. But we put our equipment to good use,” she laughs.

The newest prints in the MAPS collection – now numbering 80 in total — are currently on display at the Blake Library at University of Maine at Fort Kent. In 2020, the next prints in the exchange will be displayed at Common Street Arts in Waterville, and a retrospective of all the prints in the MAPS collection is scheduled for display at the Lewis Gallery at the Portland Public Library in the fall of 2021.

“We share ten prints with each other every year, and the MAPS print collection has grown into a beautiful representation of the diversity and excellence in printmaking that can be found in both Maine and Aomori”, said Jeff Badger, who initiated and manages the exhibition series with his partner Jiro Ono in Japan. “Our goal is to exhibit the collection all over the State of Maine. We’ve shown it from York to Eastport to Fort Kent, and many places in between. We are always looking for more opportunities to share the work and get more people excited about the connection we have with Aomori.” Earlier this year, MAPS received support from the Maine Community Foundation for three exhibitions in Belfast, Brunswick, and Fort Kent.

While the MAPS project is a result of the sister state relationship, the exhibitions have had a parallel effect of educating audience members about the printmaking medium itself. “The Japanese know what printmaking is, and it is a strong part of their culture,” says David Wolfe, “but a lot of people in the US – even those interested in art and who collect art – don’t necessarily know what a print is.” Wolfe suggests that an exhibition with an additional element of a cultural exchange is a great way to draw a larger audience to learn about printmaking as an art medium.

All the members of the group noted the strong support of the arts in Aomori from both the government and citizens, with entire buildings dedicated to local art, but other cultural differences were more smaller and more humorous, including the many tiny cars in Japan, the incredible amount of vending machines and, for Lisa Pixley, how clean the streets were. “On more than one occasion I saw people picking up trash on the street or from the floor in a market. It’s a small thing, but a big difference in how our societies think of the individual’s place in the community.”

In 2018 the MAPS print exchange expanded to a K-12 student print exchange, with artiist and teacher Raegan Russell visiting Aomori and presenting an exhibition of children’s prints in the gallery at Berwick Academy. A second teacher delegate – Lynda McCann-Olson from Cumberland/North Yarmouth – will visit in November of 2019. This new facet of the exchange is sponsored by the Aomori Rotary Club, another group in Japan that has been generously supportive of the Maine-Aomori relationship. “Fostering the special relationship Maine has with Aomori takes commitment from many volunteers and generous contributions from donors in both countries,” said Lydia Badger. “All friendships need nurturing, and without the dedication of so many people, this trip, the art exchange, and the benefits they offer to the community would not be possible.”

For more information about MAPS and Friends of Aomori, visit

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