MFT Gallery’s new show, I Went To the Animal Fair: Finding Common Ground, features Belfast artist Kerstin Engman’s oil paintings on the first floor, with works by Andre Benoit, Frances Hynes, Leslie Moore, and Julie Cyr on the second floor.
Kerstin’s works for this show are inspired by the animals, goods, and people at the Common Ground Fair Country Fair. To create her signature style, she applies paint in layers of darks, lights, and color to add texture and depth to the pieces. For some of her pieces she uses stencils and modeling paste to create non-representational patterns that form the texture of backgrounds and individual parts of the painting. “Specific design elements and color are the foundation of my recent studies, incorporating repetition, swaths of color, grids, dots, angles, shapes, and overlaps,” Kerstin said of her work. The quintessential paintings depict handsome roosters in their grid-like wire cages and sheep and cows in darkened stalls with light streaming in through windows. Gourds and other vegetables with beautiful cast shadows, skeins of dyed yarn and bundles of lavender, and the fair-goers under tents and at the vendor stands all contribute to the light-filled atmosphere of the classic fair.
On the second floor of the gallery there are works from Andre Benoit, an abstract assemblist sculptor from Boothbay Harbor, who creates fanciful animal forms and iconic motifs with repurposed, painted and assembled wooden remnants. Frances Hynes, a New York artist with many ties to Maine, will display her lyrical watercolors, depicting simplistic farm landscapes with gamboling cows and paddling ducks. Rounding out the artists in the show, both from Belfast, are Leslie Moore, with work including a stippled pen and ink drawing of pigs playing in a puddle, and Julie Cyr, whose oil paintings of animals reflect her inspiration in the wonder of daily life and the light and shapes that arise from the simple scenes around her.
I Went To the Animal Fair: Finding Common Ground runs from September 10th– November 2nd, with artist talks Friday September 28th at 5pm, followed by a reception and the town-wide Belfast Art Walk from 5:30-8pm.