Category Archives: Gallery

An interview with artist Anne Alexander

Interview & writing by Eliza Graumlich;  Photos by Susan Metzger

Applications for the 2018 artist residencies at the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center are open. There will be six visual art residencies (5 for Maine artists, 1 of which is reserved for an indigenous Maine artist; 1 for an out-of-state or international artist), one performing arts residency, and one writing residency. There will also be a seasonal position for a resident gardener with an affinity for the arts. Apply here!

FMI or contact Denise DeSpirito, Fiore Arts Center assistant: denise@mainefarmlandtrust.org.

To enter Anne Alexander’s studio is to catch a glimpse of the world through Goldilocks’ eyes: everything is too big or too small. When I visited her workspace in mid-September, located within a converted barn at the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center, it was filled with seashells and seedpods and squash and radishes, each item displayed beside a duplicate magnitudes larger. These larger renditions were made of clay and slightly abstracted, sometimes in form and sometimes due solely to their size. Swollen, they adopted new qualities: they were rounder, softer, more human and occasionally erotic. A seedpod morphed into what looked like worms; a radish to a baby’s bottom. The smaller forms seemed somehow too small: the radish, for instance, was shriveled with age and exposure.

Scale is central to Alexander’s work. “You know how, when you walk in the woods, sometimes you feel very small?” she asked. She hopes that her pieces—organic forms carved out of clay, wood and stone—will leave viewers with a similar sensation, affecting them on both an emotional and kinesthetic level. “Hopefully after seeing my work [people] might look at a tree branch in a different way, or look at a tiny little plant pod and imagine it on a larger scale.”

Alexander led me to the second room of her Jefferson studio. Originally, this is where farm implements were repaired. Today, Alexander uses the left behind vice to clutch the pieces of alabaster that she carves. “When I first came in here I was really feeling the presence of someone who used to work in the shop,” she confessed. “It was comforting. I felt like somebody was happy that I was working here.” One day, as she was hammering, a shiny drill bit rolled into view. “It felt like I was being given gifts.”

 

Given the surreal nature of her art and her equally fantastic experiences in the studio, it is no surprise that Alexander refers to this part of Maine as “fairytale land.” Her roots here are deep: her father grew up in nearby Damariscotta and attended Lincoln Academy, just like his own father, and his mother before him. Alexander herself spent childhood summers along the Damariscotta River. Today she lives in Windham. “I have a cousin that lives in Bremen and we’d go to Waldoboro or South Bristol, but I’d never come down this road, the 213,” Alexander admitted. “It’s so beautiful. It’s no wonder so many artists live here.”

The earliest inspirations for Alexander’s work, in fact, can be attributed to one of these artists. As a child, Alexander and her family visited the Cushing home of famed sculptor Bernard Langlais. There, she remembers climbing so high onto a sculpture (a wooden elephant or maybe a lion—she can’t recall) that she could see Langlais himself, in his adjacent outdoor studio. “I remember waving to him over the fence and seeing him with his tools and his crazy hair, working,” she recalled. “He was very happy.” This experience, she said, “sparked something” in her. Since, Langlais’ work has been a guiding inspiration for her own, particularly due to its public nature, use of natural materials and scale.

Like Langlais, Alexander often carves in public. “People say ‘Oh, I don’t have the patience for that,’ and I think, ‘It’s not patience for me. It’s that I just want to get back to it. I want to stop all the other stuff in my life and just get back to [my work].” While this notion is romantic, it was also readily apparent upon meeting Alexander in her studio. Midway through our conversation, she spotted part of a large cedar sculpture that needed fixing and worked at it for the duration of the visit.

8 holiday gift ideas for the Maine farm lover

What do you get for the people on your list who love Maine farms and food? We’ve added to our list from last year to give you a few ideas to fill your holiday season with local goodness.

  • A CSA share: the gift that keeps on giving all season long. Click here for a list of CSAs near you.
  • A canner, or other kitchen gadget that will help preserve food—so your loved one can enjoy Maine’s bounty year round. Here’s an overview of the products out there.
  • Something to snuggle away the cold winter nights: A Real Maine blanket or maybe a cozy sheepskin or wool from your local fiber farmer.
  • Find farm-centric art, hats, t-shirts, children’s books, and holiday cards made by local artists in our gallery (97 Main Street in Belfast), or in our online store.
  • Banked time: Because sometimes gardening, food prep, or putting up a greenhouse requires more than two hands. Write out a gift certificate to wrap up, and throw in a sprig of thyme for fun.
  • Give good food! A jar of really good farm-made eggnog, a gift certificate to spend at the local butcher shop, a tin of Maine-grown herbal tea… in our experience, food gifts are always appreciated.
  • Looking for something to ship? Many of Maine’s food and farm products last a long time, including jam, maple syrup, beeswax candles, and even seaweed (the last two are even carry-on friendly!).
  • Finally, MFT (and other farm-focused organizations) offer gift memberships.  Give someone the knowledge that they have a hand in growing the future of farming. We’ll send them a copy of our beautiful Maine Farms journal, too!

Most importantly, take time to enjoy this time with family and friends, and make lots of delicious (and local) food during the holidays. Be sure to stock up on all manner of veggies, dairy, meats, etc at your local winter farmers market or local grocer, and give thanks for local bounty, even in the midst of Maine winter!

In the Interval Between Snowflakes on view at MFT Gallery

Belfast. In a state like Maine, sometimes the greatest fruits of our labor grow through friendship.

The multi-media exhibit “In the INTERVAL between snowflakes,” on view at Maine Farmland Trust Gallery from November 20 through January 5, is a case in point.

The exhibition (part photography, part sculpture, part poetry) is a result of over 25 years of friendship between artist Bruce McAffee Towl and farmers Barbara and Jason Kafka, of Checkerberry Farm in Parkman, Maine.

“It all started twenty-five years ago,” McAffee Towl recounts, “because Jason held out his hand and in his palm were the seeds for an entire crop of onions, and we said ‘Let’s make a book for the Common Ground Fair!’ That’s what got us started.”

“It was all drawings at first,” McAffee Towl continues. “It was the friendship that allowed the farmers and their crew to feel comfortable, to have someone right there with pencil and paper to record their triumphs and less-than-triumphs.” His nickname soon became The Spector.

Fast forward two and a half decades: McAffee Towl presented the harvest of 25 years of drawings, photography, sculpture and poetry to his community, in the barn adjacent to his home in Dover-Foxcroft, in October of 2016.

“It was an emotionally moving experience,” writes John Harker, now retired but previously Director of Market and Production Development for the Maine Department of Agriculture for 26 years. He and many others felt that this exhibit must be shared around the State, as a way to raise awareness of the work that goes into growing food and simultaneously, as a way to celebrate Maine’s family farms.

Maine Farmland Trust Gallery was a logical first choice. “It was Barbara Kafka from Checkerberry Farm who approached us about Bruce’s exhibit,” says Anna Witholt Abaldo, gallery curator at Maine Farmland Trust. “When I went to see Bruce’s exhibit in early 2017, she was there, and it became immediately apparent that this production was truly a team effort, and important to many.”

The Maine Arts Commission awarded INTERVAL partial funding to be adapted for display at other venues. Betsy Miller Minott, a former farm crew member at Checkerberry, has since been instrumental in converting the exhibit for display at MFT Gallery.

As curator of MFT Gallery, Witholt Abaldo has seen a plethora of artworks and exhibits that speak to farm life. “INTERVAL is unique,” she notes, “because of the decades of heartfelt observation that pour out through the poetry, the photographs, even the hand-hewn bench made from a fallen tree which serves as a seat to view the digital slide show. It is truly a labor of love.”

In McAffee Towl’s own words, the exhibit “celebrates the I N T E R V A L between snowflakes: raising organic fruits and vegetables on a rural Maine farm in the state’s short growing season, and aims to honor all those who ‘bend’ to raise food for many of us.”

The exhibit will be on display from November 20, 2017 through January 5, 2018, and opens with a festive, public reception on Saturday December 2, during the Belfast Holiday Art Walk. The reception will be preceded by Artist/Farmer Talks at 5pm; the reception runs from 5:30-8pm.

Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, located at 97 Main Street, Belfast, is open Monday through Friday from 9am-4pm. More information can be found at www.mainefarmlandtrustgallery.org.

Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide, member-powered nonprofit working to protect farmland, support farmers, and advance farming. Maine Farmland Trust created its gallery to celebrate agriculture through art, and to inspire and inform the public about farming in Maine. For more information on the Trust visit www.mainefarmlandtrust.org.

CSA II (Community Supporting Arts)

Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, in partnership with the Harlow Gallery/Kennebec Valley Art Association, presents CSA II – one of three exhibitions of work by 13 Maine artists who have been partnered with CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms throughout the 2017 growing season.

Meet the artists and farmers at the opening reception on Friday, September 22, from 5-8pm with a gallery talk at 5pm. Maine Farmland Trust is located at 97 Main Street in Belfast; the exhibition is on view from September 22 through November 10, 2017. For more information about Maine Farmland Trust Gallery please visit www.mainefarmlandtrust.org/public-outreach-new/gallery/

Participating artists and farms are: Ingrid Ellison of Camden (paired with Hope’s Edge Farm), Helene Farrar of Manchester (paired with Farmer Kev’s), Dylan Gifford of Kents Hill (paired with Wholesome Holmstead), Karen Merritt of Portland (paired with Crystal Spring Farm), Anna O’Sullivan of Portland (paired with The FarmME), Tim Ouillette of Portland (paired with Hancock Family Farm), Tyson Pease of Gardiner (paired with Tender Soles Farm), Alyssa Phanitdasack of Portland (paired with Sheepscot General Farm and Store), Jessica Rhoades of Thomaston (paired with Whatley Farm), Susan Bartlett Rice of Walpole (paired with Tarbox Farm), Nicholas Runco of Oakland (paired with KVCC CSA), Kris Sader of Orono (paired with Ripley Farm), and Rebecca May Verrill of Portland (paired with Frith Farm).

During CSA II (Community Supporting Arts), participating artists have been visiting their partner farms regularly since January 2017, at the very start of this year’s growing season, creating art inspired by their farmers’ lives, work, and landscape. The resulting body of artwork will be exhibited at three venues in the fall of 2017: at the Maine Farmland Trust Gallery in Belfast September 22 – November 10; at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell October 27 – December 2; and at Engine in Biddeford November 10 – December 16.

In 2012 Harlow Gallery organized the first Community Supporting Arts (CSA) project to connect Maine’s artist and farming communities, two vibrant and idealistic groups that are key to our state’s unique sense of place. The first CSA project was a huge success and the Harlow Gallery staff and volunteers are thrilled to bring it back for 2017.

All the participating farms are Community Supported Agriculture (CSA farms). A CSA farm sells shares at the beginning of the growing season and then provides fresh, seasonal food on a regular basis to each shareholding household throughout the growing season. CSA II will use the power of art to promote the economic and environmental benefits of organic farming and of buying locally grown food. Our food industry is a critical key to a sustainable economy and the health and well-being of Maine citizens in an age of accelerating climate change.

Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, located at 97 Main Street, Belfast, is open Monday through Friday from 9am-4pm. More information can be found at www.mainefarmlandtrustgallery.org.

Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide, member-powered nonprofit working to protect farmland, support farmers, and advance farming. Maine Farmland Trust created its gallery to celebrate agriculture through art, and to inspire and inform the public about farming in Maine. For more information on the Trust visit www.mainefarmlandtrust.org.

Land and Sea: MFT Gallery’s 2017 Summer Stable Show

Belfast. Take farmland, and just add water. All gallery curator Anna Witholt Abaldo knew was that Maine Farmland Trust’s new CEO would be writing a feature article for the 2017 edition of the Trust’s coveted journal, titled Land and Sea, about the interconnectedness of Maine’s land and sea-based food systems.

Rather than echoing the in-depth treatment of Maine’s food systems in CEO Amanda Beal’s essay, MFT Gallery’s Land and Sea exhibit aims to be a light-hearted riffing-off of the journal article’s theme. Having traditionally shown work that reflects some aspect of farming in Maine, in this exhibit the gallery includes work which celebrates Maine’s coastal landscape and fishing culture.

The eclectic group show welcomes visitors with a giant black and white woodblock print by Julie Crane, showing Rockport harbor above and below sea level. Crane printed the woodcut at Pickwick Press in Portland, Maine – with the assistance of three other people.

On the opposite wall, Lou Schellenberg’s oil paintings render the light, the skies and coastal landscapes of Maine and Nova Scotia, dazzling with bold, confident brush strokes. “The larger one, What We Leave is very influenced by Marsden Hartley’s landscapes,” says Schellenberg. “I’ve been carrying his paintings in my head my whole life! The title is a reference to community change, islands and so on.” Schellenberg was chosen to be MFT Gallery’s poster artist for 2017.

Abstract paintings by Belfast’s own Kathryn Shagas (Dandelion, and Native Plants) hang side by side with photographs by Terry Hire – also non-objective in nature, yet taken from very real subjects: in this case, boats in dry dock, and an old chicken barn on Rt. 3.

Painters Robin Rier and Bjorn Runquist offer some wonderful plein-air style views of boats, wharfs and factories in Maine’s fishing villages. In contrast, to remind us of MFT Gallery’s root in farming, Sharon Yates offers us her keenly studied, understated cows; Leslie Bowman, a single, masterfully painted ear of corn. And Jude Valentine once again hits the mark with her pastel landscapes, which are always subtle, yet full of color and lively gestures.

Maryjean Viano Crowe takes a different approach entirely. Her complex paper cutting of almost five feet tall reads like an ancient myth. The artist states: “True to my fashion of working with the 16th-century German art form Scherenschnitt, my piece is an elaborate paper cut, polychromed with offset and registered stencils. Entitled Between Sky & Sea: Ancestral Spirits, it explores a mythological realm inspired by Native American stories. I believe it shows my reverence for the land, and an abiding belief in the beauty, magic and mystery of Mother Earth, whom we are charged to protect and respect, now, more than ever.”

MFT Gallery’s roster of much-loved figurative painters such as Leslie Anderson, Julie Cyr, Leslie Harris, Sheep Jones, Christopher O’Connor and Amy Peters Wood round out this fabulous collection of new work, alongside new appearances by Dale Hueppchen (giclee prints), Heléna Melone (paintings on silk) and Jim Nyce (photography).

Land and Sea: Summer Stable Show 2017 runs from July 3 until September 15th. There will be artist talks by Julie Crane, Maryjean Viano Crowe, Terry Hire and Lou Schellenberg at 5pm on July 28th, followed by a public reception and the Belfast Fourth Friday Art Walk from 5:30-8pm. There will be another Art Walk on August 25th, from 5:30-8pm.

MFT Gallery, located at 97 Main Street, Belfast, is open Monday through Friday from 9am-4pm. More information can be found at www.mainefarmlandtrustgallery.org .

Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide, member-powered nonprofit working to protect farmland, support farmers, and advance farming. Maine Farmland Trust created its gallery to celebrate agriculture through art, and to inspire and inform the public about farming in Maine. For more information on the Trust visit www.mainefarmlandtrust.org

Maine Farmland Trust completes donation of Fiore art to close to fifty Maine non-profits

Several years ago, MFT found itself in the unique position of having been given over one hundred pieces of valuable artwork by the late artist and conservationist Joseph A. Fiore (1925-2008) – for the sole purpose of re-gifting these pieces to educational and environmental organizations throughout Maine. The paintings and drawings were part of Fiore’s “Geological Works,” also known as the “Rock Paintings,” and were collectively valued at approximately $1.3 million.

During his lifetime, Joseph Fiore was an avid supporter of Maine Farmland Trust. A former Black Mountain College student and teacher, Fiore was a well-known avant-garde artist during the 1960s. An artist friend and contemporary of Lois Dodd and Alex Katz, Fiore divided his life between New York City and Jefferson, Maine. While Fiore is best known for his abstract compositions, his key inspiration was always the natural world – and this is where his heart lay.

Fiore’s family created a foundation after he passed in 2008.  From 2012 onward, the Falcon Foundation donated many of Fiore’s landscape works to MFT—owing to the artist’s longstanding commitment to the Trust and the fact that MFT runs a gallery that combines art and environment, paralleling the artist’s own passions.

Recently, Maine Farmland Trust completed the re-gifting of the Rock Paintings, which now reside with fifty non-profits throughout the state of Maine, and beyond. Among the recipients are such organizations as Bates College, Colby College, College of the Atlantic, St. Joseph’s College, Unity College, Bay Chamber Concerts, DaPonte String Quartet, American Farmland Trust, Blue Hill Heritage Trust, Cape Elizabeth Land Trust, Damariscotta River Association, Island Heritage Trust, Midcoast Conservancy, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Penobscot East Resource Center, Wolfe’s Neck Farm, Kieve-Wavus Education Inc., Hurricane Island Center for Science & Leadership, Haystack, Gibbs Library, Skidompha Library, Vose Library, and many more Maine non-profits doing important work.

A full list of recipients can be found on MFT’s website: https://www.mainefarmlandtrust.org/public-outreach-new/jaf-art-center/fiore-art-trail/. This page actually offers a “Fiore Art Trail,” giving an overview of all the places in Maine where Fiore’s art can be found, along with opening times of organizations which offer public access. There is even a day trip suggestion complete with locations of delicious eateries along the way.

MFT itself has two locations where Fiore’s art can be seen – in this case, not only Rock Paintings, but also landscapes and abstract works: MFT Gallery, 97 Main Street, Belfast (open M-F, 9-4); and the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center, 152 Punk Point Rd, Jefferson (open to the public June – September, on Saturdays from 12-4).

Front of Fiore Center house

Maine Farmland Trust Announces 2017 Residency Awards: for the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm, Jefferson

Tanja Kunz
Richard Daniels
Elizabeth Hoy
Jessica Klier
Anne Alexander
Jude Valentine

After a successful first artist residency program in 2016, the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center announced its expansion from four to six visual artist residencies for the summer of 2017. In addition, the Center added a new residency for a writer to research the farm’s history and write its story – a project for which MFT received a Maine Arts Commission Arts and Humanities Grant. A position for a seasonal resident gardener was also created for 2017– a first step in reviving farming activity at Rolling Acres as MFT works to design and implement a food bank food forest at the Center.

The Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm is a program of Maine Farmland Trust that actively connects the creative worlds of farming and art making. The Center offers exhibitions and public educational events, supports research and development of ecologically sustainable farming practices, and hosts residencies for artists on a working farm. MFT is also working to establish a food forest at Rolling Acres Farm, which will provide nutritious food to area food pantries through MFT’s Veggies For All program.

Nellie Sweet will be the Center’s first resident gardener, and will cultivate a kitchen garden for the residents and Center events. “We are so fortunate to have found someone who is both an experienced gardener, and a creative person who seeks to connect deeply with the land through her writing and photography,” says Anna Witholt Abaldo, co-director of the Fiore Art Center.

A team of two professional jurors was responsible for the selection of this year’s visual artists: Bevin Engman, Professor of Art at Colby College, and Sam Cady, distinguished artist and teacher whose work is currently on exhibit at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland.

“When considering applicants, the jury primarily looks at the quality of an artist’s work, but we also ask them to weigh the match between each artist’s approach and the Fiore Art Center’s mission,” explains Abaldo. “We are interested in attracting and supporting artists for whom the environment is an important element in their work.”

 While the jury noted quite a number of promising submissions among the pool of twenty applicants – some established, others emerging artists – the following six were awarded a residency at the Fiore Art Center.

 In July, the artists in residence will be Tanja Kunz, an oil painter living in Bath (MFA, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC) and Josselyn Richards Daniels, a young illustrator and native Mainer from Yarmouth, currently a student at Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, CA.

In August, Rolling Acres Farm welcomes Elizabeth Hoy, an abstract painter living in Brooklyn , NY (MFA, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 2009) and Jessica Klier, from Northampton, MA, who fashions elaborate installations from recycled waste (BA in Expressive Arts and Community Engagement with a Minor in Studio Arts from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA).

For the month of September, the residents will be Anne Alexander, a sculptor from Windham who creates nature-based work (MFA in Sculpture from Alfred University, NY, 1989) and Jude Valentine, a printmaker and pastel artist hailing from East Machias, (MFA in Visual Art  with a concentration in multi-disciplinary media, Vermont College of Fine Art, Montpelier, VT).

David Dewey, co-director of the Fiore Art Center and responsible for the Center’s fine arts program, notes his enthusiasm: “I am very excited about the wide variety of this year’s artists in residence.”

The historical writing residency was awarded to Sarah Loftus, who holds an M.A. in Archaeology from the University College London, London, UK, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY. “I journeyed to Maine two years ago to apprentice on a vegetable farm near the New Hampshire border, and I am still here, all sore muscles and stained hands soaked in New England soil,” writes Loftus.

“We invite any local residents who might have interesting information to contribute about Rolling Acres Farm to get in touch with us,” says Witholt Abaldo. Loftus will be presenting her final story in September – an event which will take place at the farm, and will be open to the public.

At the end of each residency, there will be a family-friendly Open Studio Day at the Fiore Art Center on 152 Punk Point Road, Jefferson – a great opportunity for the public to visit the art center, meet the artists and see the work created during their residency. This summer’s dates are Saturday July 29, August 26 and September 30, from 11am-3pm.  All days there will be live music outdoors on the lawn and free coffee, tea and ice cream. Bring a picnic and enjoy the Center’s magnificent grounds.

For more information on the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center and residencies, please visit

https://www.mainefarmlandtrust.org/public-outreach-new/jaf-art-center/ or contact Anna Witholt Abaldo at 207-338-6575 or anna@mainefarmlandtrust.org.

The Inside View at MFT Gallery

Belfast. Machias watercolorist Margaret LaFarge has lived in Maine since 1980. Her intimate paintings transport us across time and space, into the rooms of farmhouses with which LaFarge has a special connection. “These are primarily homes I have lived in,” she points out. “And so my paintings revolve around family, memories and history.”

The farmhouse interiors depicted in paintings such as “Horse Hair Chair” and “1800 Farm House” hail from New England villages that once had a vibrant farming community. “But a lot of farming has disappeared here,” said LaFarge. “It’s so sad to see old farmhouses fall apart. I am fortunate that my family has always maintained them.”

An old box of photos took painter Tessa O’Brien on a trip down memory lane, to a time in her childhood when her parents and their friends built a timber frame together. “Everyone stayed and camped out with their babies and dogs. I just love those images, and the memories they conjure up,” said O’Brien.

In her bold, colorful paintings, the timber frame itself became a symbol for community, sustainability and craftsmanship. “I was pursuing my MFA at the time,” O’Brien explained. “And visually, I loved the structure of the timber frame as an image in its own right. I’m primarily interested in paint – the possibilities of it, the textural quality – but I need an organizing principle to direct my work.”

What followed was much like a community engagement project. “I started hunting down timber frames in Maine, and ended up meeting the people building them, and hearing their stories,” O’Brien shared. “I love the stories that go along with the buildings, and the way these structures interact with the land.”

The Portland painter recognized that the subject matter of farm houses runs the risk of being nostalgic. “While I started from a place of nostalgia that is not what I want to communicate. I want to show the present-day possibilities, which are very alive in Maine, and ask what these traditions can bring us now.”

With The Inside View, Maine Farmland Trust Gallery is aiming to show a variety of interior views of farms: old and new; still used for farming or transformed into an artist’s space; the family’s kitchen table versus the cow’s barn. The group show includes oil paintings, acrylics, mixed media, drawings and photography by artists Julie Cyr, Kerstin Engman, Leslie Harris, DiTa Ondek, Susan Smith, Sarah Szwajkos, and afore-mentioned Margaret LaFarge and Tessa O’Brien.

The Inside View will be on exhibit from April 3rd through June 23rd. There will be artist talks at 5:00pm on Friday May 26, followed by a reception as part of the Belfast Art Walk from 5:30-8:00pm.

MFT Gallery, located at 97 Main Street, Belfast, is open Monday through Friday from 9am-4pm. On Fourth Friday Art Walks, the gallery is open until 8pm. More information can be found at www.mainefarmlandtrust.org/public-outreach-new/gallery/ .

Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide, member-powered nonprofit working to protect farmland, support farmers, and advance farming. Maine Farmland Trust created its gallery to celebrate agriculture through art, and to inspire and inform the public about farming in Maine. For more information on the Trust visit www.mainefarmlandtrust.org

Maine Farmland Trust Gallery lost a remarkable artist last week

Dahlov Ipcar in her studio with her cat

Dahlov Ipcar died at the age of 99 in her home in Georgetown. MFT was honored to have worked with her over the past five years, sharing her children’s books and her wonderful prints and lithographs. Ipcar was featured in a solo exhibit of her drawings and watercolors in 2013, and became MFT Gallery’s first poster artist. Some of her lithographs are featured in the current show. The Portland Press Herald fittingly captured Ipcar’s generous nature and her impact on art in Maine:

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/02/11/legendary-maine-artist-dahlov-ipcar-dies-at-99/

In Dialogue with Nature

Belfast. In the summer of 2016, four artists spent a month living and creating at Rolling Acres Farm in Jefferson. More precisely: a month of observing and noting, walking and musing, painting and drawing, collecting and interacting with the soil, the water, the weeds, woods and sky.

These four artists, all from Maine, were the very first artists-in-residence at Maine Farmland Trust’s Joseph A. Fiore Art Center, an initiative started last year in collaboration with the Falcon Foundation in Damariscotta, which holds the works of late artist and environmentalist Joseph A. Fiore (1925-2008).

The Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm aims to actively connect the creative worlds of farming and art making by way of exhibitions and public educational events, through research and development of new farming practices and by hosting residencies for artists on a working farm.

David Dewey, trustee and curator of the Falcon Foundation and co-director of the Fiore Art Center believes that an artist residency is an important creative interlude from the demands of life, which allows artists time to refresh their creative batteries and develop their art work with a clear mind. “We all need a break at times; the residency program can be a valuable period of critical artistic growth that both the artist and the public can benefit from.”

The four 2016 artists-in-residence Thomas R. Higgins*, Robert Pollien*, Thérèse Provenzano and Susan Smith are now exhibiting the work created during their month at Rolling Acres Farm at the Maine Farmland Trust Gallery in Belfast. The exhibition, titled In Dialogue with Nature, is on display until March 24th, with artist talks and a closing reception on Friday March 17, at 5pm. (*Higgins appears courtesy of Greenhut Gallery, Pollien appears courtesy of Dowling-Walsh Gallery.)

The artists each had their own unique approach and experience. Higgins, a landscape painter who worked mostly in oils, followed by some drawing, shared: “Having the unobstructed freedom to come and go as I please has resulted in the opportunity to focus on subject matter not explored in recent years, and the chance to get to know a few locations intimately.” Pollien, also a landscape painter, said: “The month was very productive and I find that the intensity of the residency has carried over nicely. The time spent working and thinking deeply about painting continues to be of lasting value.”

Provenzano, pastel painter, spent many a day right outside the glass doors of her barn studio. “My residency at Rolling Acres Farm provided a new lay of land to digest, en plein air.  The sky read imposing, vast or aloof. Rain and clouds made their presence known. Reaching and digesting the land, alone and unencumbered […], took precedence.”

The vibrant greens and lively brush strokes of Higgins’ paintings; the reverent stillness which Pollien is able to evoke with his coastal views and clouds; Provenzano’s meditation on the S-curved farm road meandering down to Damariscotta Lake – each speak to a different aspect and experience of the fields, water and sky at Rolling Acres Farm.

Smith took a different approach entirely. Her site-specific art practice lies somewhere between the archeological, ideological, experimental and ephemeral. She collected rusty old bits of farm equipment, branches, soil and plant materials, and created intricate eco-prints by tightly wrapping these different ingredients into cloth “bundles,” then steaming them. Her work wants to be touched, and speaks straight to the soul of buried history, sleeping memory, and connection to land that longs to be known.

___

In Dialogue with Nature is currently on display until March 24th, with artist talks and a closing reception on Friday March 17 at 5pm. New work by MFT Gallery artists Julie Cyr, Dahlov Ipcar, Sheep Jones, Christopher O’Connor and Lou Schellenberg on the second floor.

 

Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, located at 97 Main Street, Belfast, is open Monday through Friday from 9am-4pm. More information can be found at www.mainefarmlandtrustgallery.org.

The Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm, located at 152 Punk Point Rd, Jefferson, is accepting applications for 2017 residencies until March 1st. More information can be found at https://www.mainefarmlandtrust.org/public-outreach-new/jaf-art-center/.

Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide, member-powered nonprofit working to protect farmland, support farmers, and advance farming. Maine Farmland Trust created its gallery to celebrate agriculture through art, and to inspire and inform the public about farming in Maine. For more information on the Trust visit www.mainefarmlandtrust.org