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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.

Volunteer Work Day @ Rolling Acres Farm / Joseph A. Fiore Art Center

The Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm will be hosting a spring workday Thursday, April 25th in Jefferson. This workday will help us prep the property for the summer season.  We’ll be doing everything from cleaning out sheds, to building compost containers, cleaning up the beach, and painting trim… We’ll have a job for everyone!

Lunch and snacks provided.

Please RSVP to Caroline@mainefarmlandtrust.org

An Interview with Josselyn Richards Daniels

Interview and writing by Eliza Graumlich, photos by Susan Metzger

Applications for the 2018 artist residencies at the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center open early December. There will be six visual art residencies (5 for Maine artists, 1 of which is reserved for an indigenous Maine artist; 1 for an out-of-state or international artist), one performing arts residency, and one writing residency. There will also be a seasonal position for a resident gardener with affinity for the arts. FMI or contact Denise DeSpirito, Fiore Arts Center assistant: denise@mainefarmlandtrust.org.

Josselyn Richards Daniels doesn’t wash her palette very often.  When all of the colors run together, they become a little closer to brown, she says, and a little closer to the dust and dirt that her subjects once inhabited.

Before she draws an insect, Daniels must first kill an insect, gently and without smashing anything. The freezer becomes a low-tech cryonics lab. After the bug thaws slightly, Daniels arranges its appendages, fashioning antennae and legs and elytra (wing casings) into a three dimensional Rorschach test. Limbs are bent to showcase joints. Wings are splayed open. Straight pins—the kind with a plastic bead of teal or magenta or yellow at the top—keep everything in place. When the bug has dried, Daniels removes all but one of the pins. The placement of this final pin is based in tradition and varies by species. For Daniels’ most recent specimen, the carrion beetle, it is the pin on the right side of the thorax that remains.

Of course, these steps are merely preparatory. Her desk has five slim paintbrushes, several shiny tubes of paint and a pencil sharpener, and all have yet to be used. Next, Daniels will tone her canvas with walnut ink and a hacky brush. She will sketch an outline of the beetle with a mechanical pencil and use a proportional divider to confirm scale lengths and widths. Then, there is watercolor, hatching, gouache and hand lettering, preferably in a Roman font.

Daniels began her residency at Rolling Acres Farm with the intention of designing a poster on garden-friendly bugs. However, upon arrival, she started drawing the living things that she found around her: wildflowers in the hay field, lupines out by the road, the aforementioned carrion beetle (found atop a dead snake that she hoped to sketch) and various species of bees. Previously, as a student at Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna Beach, California, Daniels dedicated 60 hours per week to studying fundamentals and technique. Now, she hopes to build a portfolio.

Biological illustration is different from fine art, Daniels explains, in that the former explores the world while the latter explores the self. However, Daniels’ works seems to stand at a junction of the two genres. Her illustrations, captivating in their realism and handsome in their aesthetic, would be equally appropriate gracing the illustrious back cover of Cook’s Illustrated or the walls of a gallery.

Daniels’ residency in Maine completes a journey begun in her childhood. Her earliest memory of making art comes from a camping trip in Bradbury Mountain State Park when she was five years old. After sighting a barn owl illuminated in the light of the campfire, she asked her family for drawing materials. Though she accepted the pen she was offered, she eschewed the back of an old receipt in favor of birch bark. Later in her childhood, she made fairy houses in the lilac trees behind her Munjoy Hill home and attended a school on Mackworth Island—a piece of land donated to the state in 1946 by Governor Percival Proctor Baxter “as a sanctuary for wild beasts and birds.”

In the fall, Daniels will study Human Ecology at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. This program of study—the only one offered by the college—focuses on investigating the relationships between humans and their environments. Daniels says that her primary educational goal for COA is to gain an understanding of environmental sciences, in order to inform her artwork as a natural science illustrator.

Sarah Loftus presents the history of Rolling Acres Farm in Jefferson

Sarah Loftus spent six weeks this summer as the Historical Writing Resident at the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center researching the history of Rolling Acres Farm and writing the “farm’s story.” She will present her research and the history of the farm Wednesday, October 25 at 7:00 pm, doors open 6:30 pm at the Fiore Art Center in Jefferson. The historical writing residency was funded in part by a Maine Arts Commission Arts and Humanities Grant.

Loftus holds an M.A. in Archaeology from the University College London, London, UK, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY.

During her six weeks living at Rolling Acres Farm, Loftus frequented the Jefferson Historical Society and the Wiscasset Court House; she interviewed past owners of the farm on Punk Point Road and met with neighbors; she dug through countless books on the region’s history and rummaged through the rusty tools under the barn looking for clues to the farming activities of former inhabitants.

The facility is handicap accessible. FMI visit https://www.mainefarmlandtrust.org/public-outreach-new/jaf-art-center/.

To RSVP to this event, please email denise@mainefarmlandtrust.org.

Back field and Fiore House

Sarah Loftus presents the history of Rolling Acres Farm in Jefferson

Sarah Loftus spent six weeks this summer as the Historical Writing Resident at the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center researching the history of Rolling Acres Farm and writing the “farm’s story.” She will present her research and the history of the farm Wednesday, October 25 at 6:30 pm at the Fiore Art Center in Jefferson. The historical writing residency was funded in part by a Maine Arts Commission Arts and Humanities Grant.

Loftus holds an M.A. in Archaeology from the University College London, London, UK, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY. “I journeyed to Maine two years ago to apprentice on a vegetable farm near the New Hampshire border,” she wrote in the application which won her the residency, “and I am still here, all sore muscles and stained hands soaked in New England soil.”

During her six weeks living at Rolling Acres Farm, Loftus frequented the Jefferson Historical Society and the Wiscasset Court House; she interviewed past owners of the farm on Punk Point Road and met with neighbors; she dug through countless books on the region’s history and rummaged through the rusty tools under the barn looking for clues to the farming activities of former inhabitants.

Loftus remarked at the close of her residency that it was interesting how one can see the story of America reflected back in the fields of Rolling Acres. What she found most striking, however, was how the local community treasures and embraces their history. “Everyone was so willing to share their stories with me, even though I’m someone coming in from the outside.”

“I think Sarah’s research is not only of benefit to us and our program – we hope it’s also a gift to the community,” says Anna Witholt Abaldo, Director of the Fiore Art Center. “Knowing the details of a place, past and present, enriches one’s sense of place and in turn, one’s connection to that place.”

Rolling Acres Farm is home to the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center, 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.

The facility is handicap accessible. FMI visit https://www.mainefarmlandtrust.org/public-outreach-new/jaf-art-center/. To RSVP to this event, please email denise@mainefarmlandtrust.org.

Front of Fiore Center house

August Open Studio Day at Rolling Acres Farm

Join Maine Farmland Trust on Saturday, August 26th from 11am-3pm, at our Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm for a family-friendly Open Studio Day. Come meet and view the work of August’s artists-in-residence: 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.) There will be live music on the lawn by father and daughter Phil Clement (guitar) and Sophia Buckley-Clement (voice), and free coffee, tea and ice cream. The Gallery at Rolling Acres will be open, currently showing a group exhibit with sixteen painters: Conversations, Studio and Table.

Located right on Damariscotta Lake at 152 Punk Point Road in Jefferson, the Fiore Art Center is a perfect place for a fun family outing – the public is invited to bring a picnic and enjoy the Center’s grounds for the day.

 

Front of Fiore Center house

July Open Studio Day at Rolling Acres Farm

Join Maine Farmland Trust on Saturday, July 29  from 11am-3pm, at our Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm for a family-friendly Open Studio Day. Come meet and view the work of July’s artists 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. There will be live music on the lawn, and free coffee, tea and ice cream. Located right on Damariscotta Lake the public is invited to bring a picnic and enjoy the Center’s grounds for the day.

Maine Farmland Trust artist residency program promotes agriculture through visual arts

Rolling Acres Farm in Jefferson now serves as Maine Farmland Trust’s Joseph A. Fiore Art Center, where four artists each spent a month last summer completing an art residency.

By Lauren Abbate, BDN Staff

Posted Feb. 14, 2017

With a rich farming history, 130 acres of rolling fields and forest, a renovated farmhouse, and a stellar location on Damariscotta Lake in Jefferson, Rolling Acres Farm is just the type of land Maine Farmland Trust made its mission to save.

Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) sought to purchase the farm several years ago with the intent of putting a conservation easement on the land and selling it to a farmer at a lower price.

But during the buying process, the grant that would have allowed MFT to lower the selling price fell through, meaning they would not be able to sell it to a farmer for an affordable price.

“I fell in love with the place,” Anna Abaldo, curator of the MFT’s Belfast gallery, said. “We didn’t want to sell out by selling to a developer.”

Instead of putting the farm back on the market at a high selling price, MFT and the Falcon Foundation, of Damariscotta, teamed up to devise another way Rolling Acres Farm could embody the ideals of conserving farmland and promote Maine’s agrarian heritage: through art.

In the hands of MFT, Rolling Acres Farm was reborn as the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center in 2015. The farm now serves as the home for MFT’s artist residency program, which hosts selected artists during the summer with the goal of having them create artwork that captures farm’s landscape.

The Falcon Foundation is the trustee of Jefferson artist Joseph A. Fiore’s work and has contributed the funding for the artist residencies, as well as pieces of Fiore’s art that are on display at the center. Albado and Falcon Foundation director David Dewey serve as co-directors of the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center.

“The whole idea is to connect the creative worlds of art and farming,” Abaldo said. “Farmers are makers, and artists are makers, and they seem to have a lot of shared passion for our rural environments and heritage here in Maine.”

This past summer the center hosted its first round of artists, including Susan Smith, of Dover-Foxcroft; J. Thomas R. Higgins, of Readfield; Robert Pollien, of Mount Desert Island; and Therese L. Provenzano, of Wallagrass.

The work each artist created during their month spent at Rolling Acres Farm is on display at the Maine Farmland Trust Gallery in Belfast. The exhibition, In Dialogue with Nature, will run until March 24. An artist reception is planned for March 17.

Higgins, a landscape painter, felt at home at the environment provided by Rolling Acres Farm. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania before embarking on a career as an art professor, Higgins said the integration of agricultural scenery into his artwork is an act of promoting the preservation of such landscapes.

“For me it’s a matter mostly of preservation,” Higgins said. “I would like to think that in response to such subject matter, that people would further appreciate the aesthetic of the land.”

For Smith, the opportunity to take part in the MFT residency program aligned perfectly with her mission as an artist to create pieces of art that convey a social message or issue important to her, as preserving Maine’s agricultural landscape is.

“I think that so many times, we think of art being a separate entity, and there are so many ways whether it be science or farming, that art gives an opportunity for people to be exposed to, or enter into, some kind of issue,” Smith said. “[Art] is an entry point that can really be more universal and subtle.”

Smith said her artwork is site specific, meaning that she lets the environment she works in direct her creative process. Knowing that MFT’s mission is to reclaim farmland, leading up to her residency in August, Smith collected dirt samples from empty farms she passed in her travels. However, she had no idea how she would incorporate the soil into her art during the residency.

Until the farm inspired her.

The soil took shape in Smith’s artwork in a variety of ways. She incorporated it with paint, and used it as one of her mediums. Then she mixed some of the samples into an old garden bed in front of the farmhouse’s kitchen window. Most striking was her placement of the samples in muslin bowls she had formed and dyed with rusty bolts found in the farm’s barn.

“As far as my art, [it] is not about pretty picture it’s really about the political or social issues,” Smith said. “To be able to incorporate art with dirt and farming was a really great opportunity for me.”

Pollien, who like Higgins is a landscape painter, appreciated the untouched agricultural scenery offered by the farm. He likened an artist’s careful observation of land to how a farmer views the same landscape.

“For myself, as an artist who is interested in the land over a long time frame, in a long observation, I don’t paint any man made structures,” Pollien said. “In that way [art] is a lot like farming in that you have to look long and deep and appreciate what it brings to you.”

Fifteen years ago, Provenzano moved from Manhattan to her family’s homestead along the Canadian border in Wallagrass, and since has been inspired by Maine’s landscapes and farms. The opportunity to spend an entire month submersed in a new farmscape excited her.

“Repeated familiarity of my own homestead can somewhat put blinders on. A farm environment at Rolling Acres provided a welcomed continuum for my work,” Provenzano wrote in an email message.

The time spent at the farm also surprised Provenzano, as she went into the the residency thinking she would incorporate her own collection of sycthes into her artwork, but discovered that digesting the authentic landscape at Rolling Acres Farm took precedence over her initial idea.

MFT intends to bring the farm back to a working status to promote greater cross fertilization of art and farming. The second round of artist residencies will be held this summer, with March 1 marking the application deadline. Paired with the artist residency, will be an opening for a resident gardener, to begin working the land, growing a selection of vegetables and poultry. A writing residency at the farm will also be offered, as MFT is seeking a writer who can chronicle the history of the farm.

After a successful first round of resident artists, Albado is hopeful that the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center will serve as an added voice in helping promote agricultural connections.

“The artists that come here are influenced by the visual beauty of the land,” Abaldo said. “The farming itself needs those voices to speak out and bring people in. There’s a deep agrarian connection that needs to be nourished.”

Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm

Artist Studio Day & Open House at the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm

On Sunday, August 28, from 11am-3pm, the Art Center will host a family-friendly Artist Studio Day & Open House – a great opportunity for the public to see the new Center, visit the studios and talk with the artists and staff. These events will feature live music on the lawn, and free coffee, tea and ice cream. Bring a picnic and enjoy the Center’s magnificent grounds.

Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm

Artist Studio Day & Open House at the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm

On Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, August 28, from 11am-3pm, the Art Center will host a family-friendly Artist Studio Day & Open House – a great opportunity for the public to see the new Center, visit the studios and talk with the artists and staff. These events will feature live music on the lawn, and free coffee, tea and ice cream. Bring a picnic and enjoy the Center’s magnificent grounds.