singing to garlic: MAINE’S FARMER MUSICIANS BY CARRIE BRAMAN PHOTOGRAPHS BY MOLLY HALEY
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.