Tag Archives: Art in Agriculture

Summer Stable Show 2019

 “Boat in Moonlight”, Christina Thwaites, oil on canvas, 40” x 56”

Please join us for MFT Gallery’s 2019 Summer Stable Show. This exhibit is a favorite with returning art-lovers and summer visitors alike. This is the gallery’s largest, most vibrant group show that showcases eleven Maine artists this year, whose work connects to agriculture, nature or environment.

André Benoit is included with his whimsical wooden assemblages of animals, while Julie Crane is showing a unique bison monoprint produced at the Tamerind Institute in New Mexico. MJ Viano Crowe is exhibiting works created with the intricate German paper-cutting technique called scherenschnitt. Elizabeth Ostrander is showing three of her painted, contemplative sculptures. Sara Gagan and Petrea Noyes are displaying unique images created with collage and oils or pigment inks respectively. Julie Cyr, Leslie Harris, Sheep Jones, Lou Schellenberg, and Christina Thwaites, are exhibiting their vivid oil paintings in colorful hues, each with their own distinct styles.

The 2019 Summer Stable Show runs from June 3rd through August 9th, with artist talks Friday June 28th at 5pm, 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. More information can be found at www.mainefarmlandtrust.org/public-outreach-new/gallery/

2019 Summer Residents at the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center

MFT’s Joseph A. Fiore Art Center is anticipating its fourth year of summer residencies at Rolling Acres Farm in Jefferson. This year, the Art Center will welcome visual, literary, performing, and for the first time, academic writing residents. A resident gardener will also live on the grounds for the summer. The 2019 residents were thoughtfully selected from a pool of 75 applicants with the help of jurors Sarah Workneh and Carl Little. The academic writing resident was selected by Andrew Marshall and Ellen Griswold.

Six visual artists will be in residence at the Art Center this summer: three from Maine, two from out of state, and one international artist.

Mildred Bachrach describes herself as an artistic pluralist who uses a variety of techniques and materials to explore the concepts of personal and environmental trauma. She has lived on a farm in Detroit, ME for over 40 years and is a member of the Cherokee Nation. J.E. Paterak is an artist with childhood ties to Jefferson, ME whose parents built a cabin on a nearby lake. Paterak will be continuing to build a body of work called Intimate Universe wherein she is striving to draw attention to the “awesomeness and delicacy of what emerges from the soil beneath our feet.” Tessa G. O’Brien from Portland, ME makes paintings that reference light, revel in color and play with architectural space – specifically traditional timber frame structures. While at the Art Center, she will explore the property and surrounding area, recording found compositions and painting them.

Genevieve Cohn is a painter and educator currently living in Boston, MA. Originally from a small town in rural Vermont, Genevieve’s work considers the relationship between women and nature. Eleanor Conover is a painter whose work responds to site-specificity and the human relationship to environmental space. Eleanor was raised in New England and currently resides in Tennessee, where she teaches at the School of Art, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Aubrey Chali, from Zambia, explores the realms of human culture and nature with its lavish hues and rich textures, resulting in the creation of mixed media paintings inspired by our natural world.

The literary arts residency, which focuses on poetry this year, was awarded to Maine poet Michelle Menting. Menting’s current project explores the relationship between humans, our built environments, and the natural world and all its beings. During her residency, she will focus on themes of migration, interconnectedness, and adaptation, and how these ideas pertain to wildlife, farming, permaculture, and climate change.

Sara Trunzo is the recipient of the performing arts residency this year. A former organizer, farmer, and non-profit professional Trunzo is now a singer-songwriter illuminating rural stories. She calls Unity, ME home, but lives and works seasonally in Nashville, TN and on tour. Her songs are informed by the landscape, community, and transformation.  

Dr. Sonja Birthisel will be the first academic writing resident at the Art Center. Sonja recently finished graduate school at the University of Maine, where she is currently employed. This summer, she will be working on several papers about climate change and its impacts on Maine agriculture.

This season’s resident gardener will be Laurie McDonnell. From tending urban landscapes to nurturing her own small farm, she has relished the opportunities she has had to partner with the land. She looks forward to cultivating her memoir and critical essay writing practice as she cultivates the gardens at Rolling Acres Farm.

In addition to hosting the residents, the Art Center will be opening a new Fiore Wing to the public this spring. Co-Directors Dewey and Witholt Abaldo are excited about the renovated garage turned art display space that will, for the first time, be able to house the entire collection of Joseph Fiore’s work on site.

The Art Center will also be working with Kerry Altiero from Cafe Miranda to host a wonderful summer evening fundraiser, where guests can expect artful pop-ups and delicious food. This dinner will take place on August 10th at 4:30 PM. Tickets will become available for purchase on this spring.

Learn more about the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center and the Residency Program.

Water and Fire, Drawings and Dirt: The 2018 Fiore Residents at MFT’s Gallery

During the summer of 2018 six visual artists, one writer, one performance artist and one gardener lived and worked together at Rolling Acres Farm in Jefferson, Maine. All had been selected for the MFT’s Fiore Art Center residency program, because of the common thread running through their work: a meaningful engagement with themes related to agriculture or the environment.

The solitude, natural setting and communal aspect of the residency allowed the artists to focus, explore and create in new ways. The exhibit of the work produced during their residency is a fabulous exploration of color, atmosphere, and connection to the natural environment. The 2018 Fiore Residents Exhibit opened March 18 and will be on display until May 24th. It concludes with artist talks at 5pm and a closing reception from 5:30-8pm at the MFT Gallery in Belfast.

Performance artist Heather Lyon woke many mornings at dawn to walk through dew-covered fields down to the lake. Working in and with the water, she ultimately crafted several performative videos. MFT Gallery displays her “Safety Poncho (Orange)” video. With its hushed silvery greys and bright red-oranges, the video engages in a riveting dialogue of water and fire with Michel Droge’s vibrant, atmospheric oil paintings: “Yesterday’s Fires” and “Pleiades Showers.” Through her interactions with the land and observation of constellations above the farm, Droge explored patterns in the micro and macro relationships of life in her watercolor and graphite drawing of “Queen Anne’s Last Wishes.”

Carol L. Douglas created her vivid plein air landscape paintings “Blueberry Barrens, Clary Hill” and “Blueberry Barrens, WC” in oils and watercolors respectively, investigating the confluence of paired painting to see if the fresh mark-making that occurred in her watercolors on Yupo would translate to her more familiar oil paintings.

Maxwell Nolin took advantage of the uninterrupted time in the studio to work on two large, luminous oil paintings, “Self-Portrait, 2018” and “Tea,” which enabled him to slow down and reflect on the conceptual aspects of his work, as well as explore different experimental techniques with his process.

In addition to working on her narrative manuscript, writer-in-residence Jodi Paloni produced a beautiful lyrical writing called “Rain Begins the Day,” which captures the essence of the farm landscape and the connection felt by all who were taken in and nurtured by it.

Clif Travers spent time exploring the natural environment of the field and woods and connecting with the community at the farm. In the studio, he constructed an 8 x 6 foot sculptural panel using discarded lumber and other wood products, in an attempt to honor and reconstruct the beauty of trees. Travers then painted the three-dimensional panel in a style referencing church mosaics and stained-glass windows. He contributed a print of the stunning “I Dream of Trees” for this exhibit.

During her residency, Stephanie Mercedes continued building archives of missing violent histories and created a variation of her “Relicarios” installation. Mercedes’ work honors the grandmothers who protested the disappearance of their children by wearing lockets. Her work on display includes research on those that escaped political persecution in Argentina and relocated to Maine, drawings, and a lighted locket.

Thu Kim Vu, from Vietnam, was inspired by the personal bonds formed during the residency through the communal kitchen, food, and the garden. She created a wonderful series of miniature paper drawings of pots, pans, and utensils glued on several overlapping sheets of Plexiglas that are designed to be viewed through the natural light of a window.

In addition to growing unusual vegetables and ornamental food for the residents, the resident gardener Rachel Alexandrou created a video installation called “The Nature of Stewardship”. This was inspired by her work in the garden and kitchen and explores the relationship between human, body and earth.

MFT’s Fiore Art Center Announces 2019 Residencies & Jury Panel

Applications for the 2019 residencies at MFT’s Joseph A. Fiore Art Center opened in early December and will close March 1st, 2019. This summer the Center will offer six visual art residencies: four for Maine artists, one of which is reserved for a Native American artist; one for an out-of-state artist, and one for an international artist. In addition, the Center will offer one performance/interdisciplinary arts residency and one literary arts residency for Maine applicants, as well as a new academic writing residency open to applicants from New England.

These are one-month residencies that will take place in July, August and September. Artist applicants are selected based on the quality of their work samples, their artist statement, and demonstration that their work has a relevant connection to the environment at large, or rural Maine and agriculture specifically.

Applicants to the new academic writing residency should be in the writing stages of an academic paper or dissertation focusing on subject matter related to MFT’s mission (e.g. farmland protection, access, and transfer; farm viability; food systems; agroecology; soil health; climate change and agriculture).

The Fiore Art Center also offers a 5-month seasonal position for a resident gardener with an affinity for the arts.

This will be the fourth summer that the Fiore Art Center has offered a residency program. David Dewey and Anna Witholt Abaldo, Co-Directors at the Center, are excited to be working with yet another excellent jury panel. “Since the literary arts residency is focused on poetry this year, we pulled in renowned poet and arts writer Carl Little for his expertise in both the literary and visual arts,” explains Dewey. “We felt Sarah Workneh, with her depth of experience as Co-Director at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, would bring a great contemporary touch and round out the panel for the visual and interdisciplinary arts,” Witholt Abaldo added.

Sarah Workneh has been Co-Director at Skowhegan for nine years. She leads the educational program and related programs in New York throughout the year, and oversees facilities on campus. Previously, Sarah worked at Ox-Bow School of Art as Associate Director. She has served as a speaker in a wide variety of conferences and schools. Workneh has played an active role in the programmatic planning and vision of peer organizations, most recently with the African American Museum of Philadelphia. She is a member of the Somerset Cultural Planning Commission’s Advisory Council (ME) and serves on the board of the Colby College Museum of Art.

Carl Little is the author of more than 25 art books, including Paintings of Maine, The Art of Monhegan Island, and The Art of Maine in Winter. Little’s poetry has appeared in many print and online journals and is included in five anthologies edited by Wesley McNair, former Maine poet laureate. Poems have recently been featured in Maine Sunday Telegram’s “Deep Water” series and “Poems from Here” on Maine Public Radio, as well as in 3 Nations Anthology: Native, Canadian and New England Writers. Little holds degrees from Dartmouth College, Columbia University, and Middlebury College. He directed the public affairs office and the Blum Gallery at College of the Atlantic for eight years before becoming director of communications and marketing at the Maine Community Foundation in 2001.

The academic writing residency will be juried by Amanda Beal, President and CEO of MFT, and Andrew Marshall, MFT’s David and Cecile Wang Food & Farming Fellow. “We felt that our residency program at the Fiore Art Center provided a perfect opportunity to support academics working on important research for our farming community,” says Beal. “The richness of an interdisciplinary experience for both the academic resident and the artists in residence will further serve to integrate agriculture and art.”

Amanda Beal’s life-long interest in how we produce food began as a child. She grew up on her family’s commercial dairy farm in Maine, and spent time on the coast of Casco Bay, where she has fond memories of digging for dinner in the clam flats alongside her grandfather and warming the bench of his smelt shanty in the winter. Before joining MFT, Beal worked for several years as a consultant on food systems-related projects for a number of fisheries, agriculture, and other food-focused organizations and businesses, and was a co-author of the publication: “A New England Food Vision: Healthy Food for All, Sustainable Farming and Fishing, Thriving Communities.” She holds an M.S. from Tufts University, having completed the Agriculture, Food & Environment program at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of New Hampshire in the Natural Resources and Earth Systems Science program.

Andrew Marshall is the 2018-2019 Wang Research and Policy Fellow at MFT, focusing on land use change, farmland reclamation, and climate issues. He has been ensconced in the Maine agricultural community for 15 years, serving as Education Director for the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and Field Director for Land For Good. Andrew also operates Dorolenna Farm and Forest in Montville with his family. He holds degrees from Bowdoin College and the University of California.

Those interested can find more information on application details, summer visitor hours and Open Studio Days here.

HOME/LAND: A multimedia exhibit

HOMELAND

Through an open call, MFT Gallery invited farmers, artists, artisans and writers living in Maine, from diverse social-economic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, to create art, craft or poetry which reflects on their unique relationship to home/land.

MFT Gallery asked that the works submitted “speak to a deep relationship which comes from cultivating the land, or a longing for connection with the land.” Art and poetry selected for the final exhibition includes work by farmers/artists which expresses the relationship with the land they cultivate; work by farmers/artists who have been separated from home/land in some way and are cultivating a new relationship to the land they are on; and work by those who are longing for a renewed relationship to home/land.

MFT will host the exhibit at its Gallery in Belfast from November 12, 2018 through March 1, 2019.

Art talks and reception will coincide with Belfast’s Holiday Art Walk, Friday December 7th: art talks at 5pm, opening and art walk 5:30-8pm.

HOMELAND: A multimedia exhibit exploring our collective and diverse relationship to home/land

MFT Gallery’s new exhibit HOMELAND speaks to a deep relationship that comes from cultivating the land, and a longing for connection with the land. This open call exhibit was promoted and curated in collaboration with GEDAKINA, Inc., a multigenerational endeavor to strengthen and revitalize the cultural knowledge and identity of Native American youth and families from across New England, and to conserve traditional homelands and places of historical, ecological and spiritual significance.

The first floor of the gallery features sixteen artists from varied backgrounds that seek to explore their relationship to home and land in a wide variety of mediums and styles.

Arlene Claudill Hulva’s colored pencil figurative landscape integrates New England and Latin American panoramas.

A vibrant Medicine Wheel painting by Mihku Paul-Anderson incorporates elements from the Waponaki culture and symbols from the natural world, while Maureen Block uses a 20th century ironing board as her painting surface for her work “Uprooted, Unrooted, Rerooted,” that depicts writhing roots in bold reds and yellows.

In two very different interpretations of Grant Woods’s iconic painting “American Gothic”, Colette Shumate Smith’s mixed media self-portrait reminds us to be vigilant of changing attitudes toward the land; and Bill Robitzek’s acrylic painting “Bowdoinham Gothic: Sarah and Laura” depicts a modern farm couple that is self-sufficient, and socially-conscious.

Liz McGhee’s gelatin plate monotypes use a palette of blues, grays, purples, and browns with shapes and line that depict her intuitive wanderings through minimalistic landscapes.

Patricia Ranzoni, Bucksport’s 2014 Poet Laureate, contributes three lyrical, flowing poems on the greater longing for ancient home ground and the yearning of displaced peoples for their place on Earth.

Gabrielle Brown’s five copper, graphite and canvas woven baskets are based on Shaker designs. Elizabeth Hunter has created a grouping of rya pillows, an ancient Nordic woven pile technique, which speak to human’s connection with the seasons.

Kathy Pollard will be displaying a large piece of birch bark with inscribed and painted Maine Indian petroglyph reproductions, and a beautiful sculpture “Corn Mother,” made with glass beads and moose antler.

A mixed media installation by Thér̀ese Provenzano incorporates objects to invoke memories of childhood and change, while Constant Albertson will have two ceramic sculpture pieces on display with themes of water awareness.

Color photographs by Christina Gessler, Emily Davis, and Karyn Marden depict varied subjects, such as quintessential views of life on a farm, organically found picture rocks, and images of the Casco Bay area.

Karen Merritt’s gelatin silver prints portray the beauty in urban gardens of Portland in black and white.

MFT will host the exhibit at its Gallery in Belfast from November 12, 2018 through March 1, 2019. Artist talks will coincide with the Belfast Holiday Art Walk on Friday, December 7th at 5pm, with a reception following from 5:30-8pm. 

September Open Studio Day at Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm

Artists in summer residence at Fiore Art Center share their work with the public. Studios open for viewing and visiting with the artists. Fiore Art Center and exhibit open for viewing, grounds open for walking. Live music and free ice cream.

Featured Artists:

Clif Travers: Travers grew up in the mountains near Sugarloaf. One of his current bodies of work, The Medicine Cabinets, grew from three years of interviews with people around the country. Travers asked each person: “What would you consider to be a social malady that could be easily cured by regular folk?” The resulting “cabinets” are all connected to nature and show the malady, as well as the imagined cure.

Carol Douglas: Douglas grew up on a farm and describes herself as a plein-air landscape painter whose primary interest lies in the relationship between humans and their environment.

Heather Lyon: Lyon was born on a farm in Maine. Her art practice is site responsive and she plans to create new performance work at the Fiore Art Center, “responding to this unique place where the connections between art and farming can be explored and lived.”

Rachel Alexandrou: Rachel is from Alna. Her organic gardening experience spans a decade, and she is currently completing her bachelor’s degree in sustainable horticulture at UMaine, Orono, with a minor in studio art.

Back field and Fiore House

August Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Open Studio Day

Artists, writer and gardener in summer residence at Fiore Art Center share their work with the public. Studios open for viewing and visiting with the artists. Fiore Art Center and exhibit open for viewing, grounds open for walking. Live music and free ice cream.

July Open Studio Day at the Fiore Art Center

Every summer the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center hosts artists-in-residence for the months of July, August and September. At the end of each month, the artists open up their studios to the public. On July 29th, the first Open Studio Day of the summer took place. It was an absolutely gorgeous day in Jefferson and more than 75 people attended.

Thu Vu, the international resident from Vietnam, had a studio full of ink drawings on rice paper for installation commissions in Vietnam. She also shared some of the food-related paper sculptures she had been working on throughout the month, inspired by her time in the kitchen with fellow residents and all the fresh veggies grown by the resident gardener.

Maxwell Nolin, shared some of his portraits and sketches with guests and discussed his previous life as a farmer in midcoast Maine. One portrait which continuously piqued the attention of visitors was that of farmer, friend and mentor Polly Shyka (Villageside Farm, Freedom). During his residency, Nolin worked on a large portrait of his grandfather, as well as a self portrait.

Jodi Paloni, who spent the residency completing her first novel, held several readings in the living room throughout the afternoon. During one reading, Paloni shared how some characters were influenced by the people and experiences at the Fiore Art Center, and read some excerpts from her novel; for the second reading, she read one of her lyric essays –a process of weekly reflection –  which can be read here.

Resident gardener Rachel Alexandrou led three garden tours with  light question and answer sessions about the interesting vegetable varieties she has been growing for the residents, including crimson clover, a unique and stunning cover crop, and dark purple tomatoes (Brad’s Atomic Grape Tomato from Baker Creek Seeds).

The next Open Studio Day will be held on Sunday, August 26th from noon-3pm. Later that day, the Art Center will also be hosting MFT’s third annual Agrarian Acts, a celebration of art through music. This year’s lineup features Syblline, Sugarbush, and Sara Trunzo. The Open Studio Day is free; buy your tickets for Agrarian Acts HERE.

Thu Vu

Max Nolin

Jodi Paloni

Rachel Alexandrou

Let's grow a bright future for farming in Maine, together.

Front of Fiore Center house

July Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm Open Studio Day

Artists, writer and gardener in summer residence at Fiore Art Center share their work with the public. Studios open for viewing and visiting with the artists. Fiore Art Center and exhibit open for viewing, grounds open for walking. Live music and free ice cream.