Category Archives: Gallery

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 .

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

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:

Maine Farmland Trust artist residency program promotes agriculture through visual arts

Rolling Acres Farm in Jefferson now serves as Maine Farmland Trust’s Joseph A. Fiore Art Center, where four artists each spent a month last summer completing an art residency.

By Lauren Abbate, BDN Staff

Posted Feb. 14, 2017

With a rich farming history, 130 acres of rolling fields and forest, a renovated farmhouse, and a stellar location on Damariscotta Lake in Jefferson, Rolling Acres Farm is just the type of land Maine Farmland Trust made its mission to save.

Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) sought to purchase the farm several years ago with the intent of putting a conservation easement on the land and selling it to a farmer at a lower price.

But during the buying process, the grant that would have allowed MFT to lower the selling price fell through, meaning they would not be able to sell it to a farmer for an affordable price.

“I fell in love with the place,” Anna Abaldo, curator of the MFT’s Belfast gallery, said. “We didn’t want to sell out by selling to a developer.”

Instead of putting the farm back on the market at a high selling price, MFT and the Falcon Foundation, of Damariscotta, teamed up to devise another way Rolling Acres Farm could embody the ideals of conserving farmland and promote Maine’s agrarian heritage: through art.

In the hands of MFT, Rolling Acres Farm was reborn as the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center in 2015. The farm now serves as the home for MFT’s artist residency program, which hosts selected artists during the summer with the goal of having them create artwork that captures farm’s landscape.

The Falcon Foundation is the trustee of Jefferson artist Joseph A. Fiore’s work and has contributed the funding for the artist residencies, as well as pieces of Fiore’s art that are on display at the center. Albado and Falcon Foundation director David Dewey serve as co-directors of the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center.

“The whole idea is to connect the creative worlds of art and farming,” Abaldo said. “Farmers are makers, and artists are makers, and they seem to have a lot of shared passion for our rural environments and heritage here in Maine.”

This past summer the center hosted its first round of artists, including Susan Smith, of Dover-Foxcroft; J. Thomas R. Higgins, of Readfield; Robert Pollien, of Mount Desert Island; and Therese L. Provenzano, of Wallagrass.

The work each artist created during their month spent at Rolling Acres Farm is on display at the Maine Farmland Trust Gallery in Belfast. The exhibition, In Dialogue with Nature, will run until March 24. An artist reception is planned for March 17.

Higgins, a landscape painter, felt at home at the environment provided by Rolling Acres Farm. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania before embarking on a career as an art professor, Higgins said the integration of agricultural scenery into his artwork is an act of promoting the preservation of such landscapes.

“For me it’s a matter mostly of preservation,” Higgins said. “I would like to think that in response to such subject matter, that people would further appreciate the aesthetic of the land.”

For Smith, the opportunity to take part in the MFT residency program aligned perfectly with her mission as an artist to create pieces of art that convey a social message or issue important to her, as preserving Maine’s agricultural landscape is.

“I think that so many times, we think of art being a separate entity, and there are so many ways whether it be science or farming, that art gives an opportunity for people to be exposed to, or enter into, some kind of issue,” Smith said. “[Art] is an entry point that can really be more universal and subtle.”

Smith said her artwork is site specific, meaning that she lets the environment she works in direct her creative process. Knowing that MFT’s mission is to reclaim farmland, leading up to her residency in August, Smith collected dirt samples from empty farms she passed in her travels. However, she had no idea how she would incorporate the soil into her art during the residency.

Until the farm inspired her.

The soil took shape in Smith’s artwork in a variety of ways. She incorporated it with paint, and used it as one of her mediums. Then she mixed some of the samples into an old garden bed in front of the farmhouse’s kitchen window. Most striking was her placement of the samples in muslin bowls she had formed and dyed with rusty bolts found in the farm’s barn.

“As far as my art, [it] is not about pretty picture it’s really about the political or social issues,” Smith said. “To be able to incorporate art with dirt and farming was a really great opportunity for me.”

Pollien, who like Higgins is a landscape painter, appreciated the untouched agricultural scenery offered by the farm. He likened an artist’s careful observation of land to how a farmer views the same landscape.

“For myself, as an artist who is interested in the land over a long time frame, in a long observation, I don’t paint any man made structures,” Pollien said. “In that way [art] is a lot like farming in that you have to look long and deep and appreciate what it brings to you.”

Fifteen years ago, Provenzano moved from Manhattan to her family’s homestead along the Canadian border in Wallagrass, and since has been inspired by Maine’s landscapes and farms. The opportunity to spend an entire month submersed in a new farmscape excited her.

“Repeated familiarity of my own homestead can somewhat put blinders on. A farm environment at Rolling Acres provided a welcomed continuum for my work,” Provenzano wrote in an email message.

The time spent at the farm also surprised Provenzano, as she went into the the residency thinking she would incorporate her own collection of sycthes into her artwork, but discovered that digesting the authentic landscape at Rolling Acres Farm took precedence over her initial idea.

MFT intends to bring the farm back to a working status to promote greater cross fertilization of art and farming. The second round of artist residencies will be held this summer, with March 1 marking the application deadline. Paired with the artist residency, will be an opening for a resident gardener, to begin working the land, growing a selection of vegetables and poultry. A writing residency at the farm will also be offered, as MFT is seeking a writer who can chronicle the history of the farm.

After a successful first round of resident artists, Albado is hopeful that the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center will serve as an added voice in helping promote agricultural connections.

“The artists that come here are influenced by the visual beauty of the land,” Abaldo said. “The farming itself needs those voices to speak out and bring people in. There’s a deep agrarian connection that needs to be nourished.”

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

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

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

Two by Two: Two Couples, Four Photographers

(Belfast, ME) When it comes to photography, couples Ralph & Kathryn and Margaret & Drew are two peas in a (tri-)pod. For both pairs, being photographers together is a core part of their relationship – not unlike farming is to many farming couples. The new exhibit at Maine Farmland Trust Gallery features a selection of each of these four photographers.

Two by Two: Two Couples, Four Photographers will be on display from November 7, 2016 through January 6, 2017. There will be an artist talk with all four photographers on Friday November 18, from 4:30 to 5:30 pm, followed by a reception from 5:30 to 8:00 pm.

Kathryn and Ralph

Kathryn has been an artist her whole adult life. She met Ralph when he contacted her to collaborate on a photo series in May 2013. It was a dance series and she participated as the subject. Shortly thereafter they became good friends and eventually fell in love. “Ralph inspired me to step behind the lens myself,” says Kathryn. “So we continue to bounce ideas off each other, share critiques but we pursue our own projects independently.”

Ralph was born in West Germany and studied European literature in Germany and France. He immigrated to the United States in 2002. He is a self-taught photographer who regularly presents his work in national and international shows.

“Kathryn and Ralph both often work in black and whites, and their images are rather dream-like,” says Anna Witholt Abaldo, curator of MFT Gallery. “But that is where the resemblance stops. There is a definite difference in feel, which completely echoes their individual spirit. Kathryn’s works – especially her encaustics – have an ephemeral, wispy, whimsical quality that pulls us into imaginary worlds filled with voices of flowers and wind-swept grass. Ralph’s work can be both beautiful and haunting at the same time. It strikes me as truly European: born from a philosopher’s soul, he mixes equal parts of the same dark and dripping angst found in Rilke’s poems with raw and unexpected beauty. The resulting images quiver with melancholy longing.”

Margaret and Drew

Margaret and Drew typically photograph and exhibit together. “We often spend several hours working at the same location—it could be an old farm, an abandoned mill site, or perhaps an historical building,” Margaret says.
Margaret was not a photographer when they met, but Drew was. “I would come along when he was taking pictures,” says Margaret. Drew proceeded to give Margaret a camera. “I had liked photography in my childhood – but I was always interested in abstract stuff, and was told I was taking the wrong kind of pictures!”

By Drew Sanborn

A common thread in their work is their interest in the still-visible remainders of Maine’s 19th and early 20th century history. Abandoned machinery from farms and factories, evolving rural landscapes, and even libraries of vintage books are all viewed with a contemporary sensibility.

“Margaret and Drew know how to do justice to the beauty and personality of all things old,” says Anna Witholt Abaldo. “Looking at their work I sense a stillness and emptiness, like time has momentarily stopped.”

‘Vegetable whisperer’: Belfast woman makes mark as a fine-art vegetable photographer

Maine Farmland Trust Gallery artist Lynn Karlin is featured in The Bangor Daily News, see the video and full article by Abigail Curtis here.

“BELFAST, Maine — Photographer Lynn Karlin moved swiftly through the Belfast Farmers Market on a recent Friday, hunting for new subjects to capture with her camera.

And not just any subjects. Karlin, who jokingly described herself as a “vegetable paparazzi,” comes to the market every week to fill her basket with the plumpest, freshest, most colorful, most visually striking produce she can find. On this October morning, she chooses perfect red radishes, dark green bunches of kale, delicate pink and cream mushrooms, vibrant purple cauliflower, glossy yellow peppers, luscious eggplants and more that she will take home and photograph.

Her fine art portraits of vegetables have hung on the walls of art galleries from New York City to San Francisco; she’s won international awards, including a gold medal in the 2015 Parisian Prix de la Photographie; and she’s been published in the pages of books and magazines. But her work keeps the slight, self-deprecating photographer’s feet firmly on the ground of Maine.

“I get inspiration just looking around at the market. Look at this! This is absolute beauty,” Karlin said, turning towards a farmer’s simple but striking arrangement of beets and other fall vegetables. “I come home and I lay all my vegetables out. Sometimes I make myself a cup of tea, and sit here and study them, and talk to them. If I were to give myself a name, it would be the ‘vegetable whisperer.’ But that’s already taken.”

Read more:

New Photographs by Lynn Karlin, Marquetry by James Macdonald at MFT Gallery

Belfast. “We taste (rather we eat), we touch (maybe not enough). But how often do we slow down to take in the beauty of the often-overlooked vegetables that nourish us?” Thus begins Lynn Karlin’s artist statement on her new body of work, The Tray Series.

Starting September 23rd, Maine Farmland Trust Gallery will be exhibiting Lynn Karlin’s much-awaited Tray Series on the ground floor. Eight years ago Belfast’s own Karlin began a quest to honor even the humblest vegetables by elevating them, as she puts it, “to a place where they belong: on a pedestal.” The stunning Pedestal Series which resulted from this endeavor earned Karlin the Julia Margaret Cameron Award for “Best in Still Life Category” for the last two years, and “Gold” for the Prix De La Photographie Paris in 2015 – along with worldwide acclaim.

The photographs in The Tray Series offer an aerial view of a confined space, with the subject often exiting the frame to break up the design. Thinking within the box, Karlin looks for good form, texture, patina and color. Subjects may now include familiar man-made kitchen objects as well as her beloved fruits and vegetables, showing “beauty can be found everywhere, if you take the time to really look.”

Reverenceby James Macdonald

Another artist who wants to treat his subjects in a way that reveals both their importance and aesthetics is Unity artist and craftsman James Macdonald. His exceptional marquetry work – defined as the art and craft of applying pieces of veneer to a structure, in order to form decorative patterns, designs or pictures – will be shown on the gallery’s second floor.

Macdonald’s body of work, titled Growers and Grown, was funded by an Artist Project Grant from the Maine Arts Commission and features new farmers in Waldo County. Says Macdonald: “My work in this exhibition comes from my fascination with the relationship between us and the food we eat. Here I’ve chosen to present a mix of work showing local farmers, food, and hand tools. My desire is to treat and display these subjects in a way that reveals their beauty, necessity, and magnificence.”

The exhibit runs from Friday September 23rd through October 31st, with an artist talk on opening day September 23rd from 4:30-5:30pm and a reception on the same evening, from 5:30-8pm, during the Belfast Art Walk.

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. The gallery is also open for Belfast Creative Coalition’s Cultivate Tour, on Saturday October 8, from 10am-3pm. More information can be found at .

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

Artist Thérèse Provenzano selects MFT as charity for “Art of Giving”


Maine Farmland Trust Gallery artist Thérèse Provenzano has been selected as one of the four winners of the 3rd Annual Art of Giving Gala by Down East Magazine.  The event celebrates the Maine arts community and supports four charities each year. MFT is honored to be the charity of choice for Thérèse Provenzano, who will also be an artist-in-residence at MFT’s new Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres later this summer. The Gala event will take place Thursday, September 1 at The Landing at Pine Point, Scarborough.

Be sure to get your tickets!

Where agriculture and art intersect: The Jospeh A. Fiore Art Center

“It all started with a vision of what this place could be: a place where agriculture and art could intersect and cross-pollinate. It’s wonderful to see it coming to life – to see the impact of this place on the artists that live and work here, and the sensibility to the environment that develops in their work as they immerse themselves in a month of working intensively in nature.”

-Anna Witholt Abaldo, Co-Director of the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center

Historically, artists have celebrated the beauty and richness of the American landscape. The newly established Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm in Jefferson aims to continue and evolve the dialogue between human and environment within the context of our current culture and time through exhibitions and public educational events, and by hosting residencies for artists.

This summer, the Center hosted its first four artists-in-residence. At the end of each month-long residency, the artists open their studios and the farm to the public for an Open Studio Day. Visitors can tour the beautifully renovated farmhouse and barn, where the artists in residence live  and work for a month. The walls are adorned with at least two dozen works by the Center’s namesake, the late Joseph A. Fiore. The collection gives viewers a great sense of the breadth of his work, and many of the paintings on display were created at Fiore’s summer home in Jefferson.

For it’s inaugural year, the Center opened the residency to artists living and working in Maine. The July artists were Robert Pollien from Mount Desert, whose submissions included landscape drawings and oil paintings; and J. Thomas R. Higgins from Readfield, a plein air landscape painter who works in oils. The August artists are Thérèse Provenzano, MFA, from Wallagrass, whose submissions consisted of works in charcoal and pastel on paper; and Susan Smith from Dover Foxcroft, who creates site-specific projects that address the environment, through the use of sustainable methods and materials.

In addition to Fiore’s work, “Visitors will have an opportunity to view the works of art that were produced at the Fiore Art Center; to see the influence of the environment on the artists’ work – the environment of Rolling Acres Farm in particular, and of Maine, in general,” says co-director David Dewey. “We want to create a celebratory atmosphere around the artists’ work. We have ice cream, music, the whole nine yards. The last Open Studio was like a big environmental family picnic.”

The Open Studios are also a chance for the current artists-in-residence to introduce their work to the public, and wrap up their residency. At Rolling Acres, “I am in heaven,” said current artist-in-residence, Thérèse Provenzano. It’s a hard place for residents to leave, and a place that we’re excited to share with the surrounding community.

The next Open Studio Day is coming up this Sunday, August 28th, 11-3 PM at 152 Punk Point Rd. in Jefferson. Come meet the current artists, enjoy live music on the lawn, free coffee, tea, and ice cream, and spend the afternoon at the Center’s beautiful grounds on the shores of Damariscotta Lake.


Popular “Summer Stable Show” at Maine Farmland Trust Gallery

Belfast. “Lyrical” is a word that comes to mind when visiting the Maine Farmland Trust Gallery’s Summer Stable Show. A favorite with returning art-lovers and summer visitors alike, this is the gallery’s annual large group show, showcasing seventeen Maine artists this year, including Dahlov Ipcar.

“What I love about this show is that it is often very painterly and eclectic,” says gallery curator Anna Witholt Abaldo. “It has a bright and colorful tone, with some surprising fresh additions this year.”

The first floor features dynamic abstracts from a series on rhythms in nature by Belfast’s Kathryn Shagas, a larger-than-life Julie Crane woodcut print of a horse jumping over a city (with a wink to Chagall), and a beautiful collection of small coastal paintings by Portland’s Christopher O’Connor. Contemplative figurative work by sculptor Elizabeth Ostrander dialogues with the evocative paintings of Sheep Jones, another Belfast artist. Lou Schellenberg impresses with strong, imposing landscapes with vigorous compositions. New works by Julie Cyr, Petrea Noyes, Sarah Wilde and Leslie Anderson round out this collection.

The second floor displays delicate watercolors by Margaret LaFarge: dirt roads curving through a landscape, evoking a real sense of stillness found in nature.  Jude Valentine’s new pastels-over-monoprint, done after visits to the old orchard at Buckle Farm (Unity), speak with directness and energy – courageous use of color and line. MJ Viano Crowe, showing at MFT Gallery for the first time, brings her garden goddesses, made from intricate paper cuts. Sharon Yates, Robin Rier, Kathleen Perelka and prints by afore-mentioned Dahlov Ipcar make up the rest of the show.

The Summer Stable Show 2016 runs from August 1st through September 16, with artist talks Friday August 26 from 4:30-5:30, followed by a reception and the town-wide Belfast Art Walk from 5:30-8pm.

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 .


artwork pictured by:

Image 1: Kathryn Shagas

Image 2: Julie Crane

Image 3: Christopher O’Connor

Image 4: MJ Viano Crowe

Image 5: Petrea Noyes

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