Artists talk, reception March 17

Residency artists share their results

Mar 10, 2017
Susan Smith incorporates actual parts of the farm into the making of her eco-prints.

Belfast — “In Dialogue with Nature,” an exhibition of work by Thomas R. Higgins, Robert Pollien, Thérèse Provenzano and Susan Smith, is on view through Friday, March 24, at the Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, 97 Main St. The public is invited to enjoy artist talks and a closing reception Friday March 17, at 5 p.m.

In the summer of 2016, these four artists spent a month living and creating at Rolling Acres Farm in Jefferson. More precisely, their month was spent observing and noting, walking and musing, painting and drawing, collecting and interacting with the soil, the water, the weeds, woods and sky.

The artists, all from Maine, were the first artists-in-residence at Maine Farmland Trust’s Joseph A. Fiore Art Center, an initiative started last year in collaboration with the Falcon Foundation in Damariscotta, which holds the works of late artist and environmentalist Joseph A. Fiore (1925-2008).

The Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm aims to actively connect the creative worlds of farming and art making by way of exhibitions and public educational events, through research and development of new farming practices and by hosting residencies for artists on a working farm.

David Dewey, trustee and curator of the Falcon Foundation and co-director of the Fiore Art Center, believes that an artist residency is an important creative interlude from the demands of life. It allows artists time to refresh their creative batteries and develop their artwork with a clear mind.

“We all need a break at times; the residency program can be a valuable period of critical artistic growth that both the artist and the public can benefit from, he said.

The artists had their own unique approaches and experiences. Higgins, a landscape painter who worked mostly in oils, followed by some drawing, said that having the unobstructed freedom to come and go as he pleased resulted in the opportunity to focus on subject matter not explored in recent years “and the chance to get to know a few locations intimately.” His work appears courtesy of Greenhut Galleries.

Pollien, also a landscape painter, said the month was very productive and he has found that the intensity of the residency “carried over nicely. The time spent working and thinking deeply about painting continues to be of lasting value.” His work appears courtesy of Dowling-Walsh Gallery.

Pastel painter Provenzano spent many a day right outside the glass doors of her barn studio as her residency provided “a new lay of land to digest, en plein air. Reaching and digesting the land, alone and unencumbered … took precedence.”

While their works speak to a different aspect and experience of the fields, water and sky at Rolling Acres Farm, Smith took a different approach entirely. Her site-specific art practice lies somewhere between the archeological, ideological, experimental and ephemeral. She collected rusty old bits of farm equipment, branches, soil and plant materials; and created intricate eco-prints by tightly wrapping these different ingredients into cloth “bundles,” then steaming them.

Maine Farmland Trust Gallery hours are weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit mainefarmlandtrustgallery.org. The Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm is located at 152 Punk Point Road in Jefferson.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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