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Maine Farmland Trust Gallery Exhibits Select Works Of Joseph A. Fiore And Jaap Eduard Helder

Maine Farmland Trust Gallery Exhibits Select Works of Joseph A. Fiore and Jaap Eduard Helder

Editor: Brenda Bonneville
Friday, 29 June 2012

(Belfast, ME) Opening on Friday, July 13th, the Maine Farmland Trust Gallery brings together two artists whose work flows from keen observations of the landscape directly around them; two artists whose sensibility of rhythm, line, color and form is apparent in the dynamic harmony which emanates from their compositions. It appears as though they each have an innate ability to be “listening to the land.”

Joseph A. Fiore and Jaap Eduard Helder have never met—in fact, they meet for the first time in this exhibition. Fiore (1925-2008) was a Black Mountain College alumnus and teacher, and a critically acclaimed vanguard New York artist in the 1960’s. He later spent his summers in Jefferson, Maine. Helder is a Dutch-born artist living in coastal Maine, who is beginning to generate state-wide and national acclaim with his collage-like abstract landscapes.

Both artists cite the influence of music in their work. Meditating on the work of Fiore and Helder, one can distill a measured cadence in each; and both, like DeKooning – teacher to Fiore and inspiration to Helder – embrace artistic diversity in the way they are able to move back and forth across various media. This exhibit includes representational landscapes and a few rock paintings by Fiore (oil paintings, pastels and watercolors) and abstract landscapes (acrylic paintings) and photographs by Helder.

(Image: Painting by Joseph A. Fiore)

Fiore began as an abstract painter, moving through several transitions in his life as an artist. At Black Mountain College in North Carolina he studied with Josef Albers, Jacob Lawrence, Ilya Bolotowsky, John Cage and Willem DeKooning, and later taught there from 1949 to 1956. He also taught at the Philadelphia College of Art, the Maryland Institute of Design, the Parsons School of Design, and the Artists for Environment Foundation. During the seventies and early eighties, while painting in Maine, Fiore went through a phase of painting the landscape in a traditional way – capturing, as Theodore Prescott writes in his recent essay Joseph Fiore’s Nature, “the simple thereness of the world.” Fiore felt a deep connection with the natural world. His work began to evolve in the mid 1970s and a kind of fluid cubism was beginning to seep into Fiore’s landscapes, reaching back to his Black Mountain years and heralding a greater abstraction yet to come. Three-dimensional scenes would transform on the canvas into two-dimensional pictures, where each plane receives attention (whether object or open space) and becomes a shape in its own right.

(Image: Painting by Jaap Eduard Helder)

(Image: Photograph by Jaap Eduard Helder)

Helder’s paintings have their own quality of rhythm and flow—bold, contrasting colors, a cadence to the forms and lines which create an imaginary landscape. When looking at Helder’s work one has the impression of a spontaneous collage, where seemingly separate geometric shapes enter into a fluid relationship. Even in his photographs, one line can make a bold statement, simultaneously arresting the viewer and enhancing the dynamic harmony of the whole. While Helder’s photographs are direct representations of every-day objects in the world around him – often man-made, but severely tampered with by nature – they are experienced as an abstract painting or collage: yet another version of the dance between realism and abstraction to which both Helder and Fiore seem to be so deeply drawn.

During his lifetime, Fiore generously supported the work of Maine Farmland Trust. Today, through Fiore’s art, the Fiore family continues to support Maine Farmland Trust in its mission to preserve Maine’s farmland forever. Close to forty pieces have been donated to Maine Farmland Trust with this very mission in mind – around a dozen of which are part of this exhibition.

More information about Joseph A. Fiore and Jaap Eduard Helder can be found on the Maine Farmland Trust Gallery’s website ( Any purchase of art from this exhibit will contribute to farmland protection in Maine.

Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide non-profit organization working to keep Maine’s farms farming. Maine Farmland Trust created its gallery to celebrate art in agriculture, and to inspire and inform the public about farming in Maine ( Maine Farmland Trust Gallery is located at 97 Main Street in Belfast, and is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, as well as during Belfast Art Walks (1st Fridays from 5:30-8pm in June and September through December; and every Friday in July and August).

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