BELFAST — Molly and John Gawler, along with Bennett Konesni, played a rollicking, toe-tapping set of tunes at Belfast Soup Kitchen Wednesday, Sept. 29. The performance was the third installment of the Arts in Action summer series sponsored by Activism in Maine.

The program aims to combat isolation and bring art, music and performances all over Waldo County in the face of the pandemic.

Waldo County Commissioner Betty Johnson stands in front of the art van Sept. 29 at the Belfast Soup Kitchen. Courtesy of Norman Kehling

Larraine Brown, director of Belfast Creative Coalition and Activism in Maine, said the colorful trademark camper, with original paintings by AIMe board member and artist Krista Odom, was aptly renamed “Betty” the art van in honor of Waldo County Commissioner and supporter Betty Johnson.

“We hope to go into neighborhoods playing music through a big megaphone on top of the van,” she said, “kind of like the ice cream truck, where people will come out, but for art instead of ice cream.”

Betty the art van at the Belfast Soup Kitchen Sept. 29. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

One side of the ’70s Toyota camper is reserved for public art, where artists young and old are encouraged to leave their mark. Inside the van, AIMe member Norman Kehling has refurbished the interior with areas for art and music supplies to be safely stowed away.

Activism in Maine members Norman Kehling and Krista Odom stand in front of Betty the art van Sept. 29 at the Belfast Soup Kitchen. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

According to the AIMe website, many people have collaborated to create the beautiful, traveling work of art and the group is excited to be hosting events now that the van is completed.

John and Molly Gawler, along with Bennett Konesni (not shown), play toe-tapping tunes Sept. 29 at the Belfast Soup Kitchen. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

The website goes on to say, “…instead of going to the theater or gallery, it will come to you … and will feature dancing, music and performances of all kinds that speak to our collective cause of social justice as well as educational opportunities.”

From left, Maria Jacobs, volunteer coordinator for the Belfast Soup Kitchen; musicians Molly and John Gawler; Activism in Maine member Norman Kehling; Larraine Brown, director of Belfast Creative Coalition and Activism in Maine; Cherie Merrill, executive director of Belfast Soup Kitchen; and AIMe board member and artist Krista Odom stand in front of Betty the art van Sept. 29. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Some of Activism’s goals include expanding the region’s creative community, promoting connections between coastal and inland cultural resources and increasing accessibility to cultural offerings for those living in remote “nooks and crannies” in the county.

Betty the art van is scheduled to be at an open house on Beaver Street Oct. 23 for Project Connect, a Volunteers of America initiative aimed at supporting people transitioning back into society after incarceration.

For more information, visit artivisminmaine.org/.