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Paint the Farm: Artists working on Maine farms

Farmland, farmers, and farming.

Each can be viewed from many angles—and each perspective reveals its own value. Art helps us see that value. It helps us both see the parts and see the whole.

John Piotti, President of Maine Farmland Trust, in a foreword in the catalog The Rock Paintings, Joseph Fiore, Geological Works 1978-2001

Belfast & Damariscotta. In the cold fall of 2014, a handful of artists took their sketch books and cameras and ventured out onto a couple of farms preserved by Maine Farmland Trust: Buckle Farm in Unity, and Rolling Acres in Jefferson. It was the beginning of a nine-month project coordinated by Maine Farmland Trust Gallery in Belfast and the Falcon Foundation in Damariscotta, connecting approximately forty artists with twenty Maine farms.

This week, the project will reach its grand finale with two exhibits opening in Belfast and Damariscotta. The show at Maine Farmland Trust Gallery will be on display from July 3-August 19 with an opening reception Friday July 10 from 5:30-8pm and an Art Walk Friday July 24, also 5:30-8pm. The Damariscotta exhibit will take place at the Firehouse Center of the Falcon Foundation, opening July 11 (reception 4-6pm) and continuing through September 7, 2015.

Many of the participating farms are properties protected with agricultural easements. These include, among others, Two Coves Farm in Harpswell, The Buckle Farm in Unity, Tide Mill Farm in Edmunds, David’s Folly in Brooksville, Rolling Acres in Jefferson, Dooryard Farm in Camden, and  Oyster River Winegrowers in Warren.  For a complete list of farms please visit www.mainefarmlandtrustgallery.com.

Curators David Dewey (Falcon Foundation) and Anna  Abaldo (Maine Farmland Trust Gallery) each invited approximately twenty artists to participate. “We never intended this project to be quite so substantial,” smiled Abaldo. “But almost all the artists we invited said yes.” The curators credit artists’ love for Maine’s rural landscape in general, and their enthusiasm to support the farmland preservation efforts of the Trust in particular.

Artists were invited to observe, paint, write, sketch, photograph, maybe even help with farm chores. Some of the work was done on the farm “en plein air.” Other work was created in the studio, a composite from various impressions harvested over the course of several months.

Upon completion of their work, each artist wrote a statement to summarize their experience, and to comment on the relevance of using art to advocate for farming. In the words of artist Barbara Sullivan, who painted Weston Farm in Madison: “Artists have always through time pointed out beauty and what is important. I feel the role of the artist is to fortify farming in general and to revere it –it is paramount for our food futures which I believe are in danger.”

The impressive artist line-up features some well-known names such as Lois Dodd, Dennis Pinette, Bjorn Runquist, Linda Packard, Judy Belasco, Nancy Glassman, Rose Marasco, Ed Nadeau, Sharon Yates, Frances Hynes, Amy Pollien, Lou Schellenberg, Paul Rickert and Jill Hoy. Each exhibit also includes one or more paintings by the late Joseph Fiore, an avid supporter of the Trust during his lifetime. For the entire list of participating artists, and to find out where their work will be shown (Belfast versus Damariscotta) please visit www.mainefarmlandtrustgallery.org.

There will be a celebratory farm-to-table dinner Friday July 17th, at Rolling Acres Farm in Jefferson. Those interested in dining with some of the artists and farmers can purchase tickets through Maine Farmland Trust by calling the office at (207)338-6575.

Maine Farmland Trust and the Falcon Foundation thank the Courthouse Gallery in Ellsworth, and the Caldbeck Gallery and Dowling-Walsh Gallery in Rockland for generously sharing several of their represented artists.

Featured image: Julie Crane, Oracle


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