The eighth annual Festival of Arts will take place Thursday through Sunday, May 13 through 16, at the Hutchinson Center of the University of Maine, Route 3. Last year, 135 artists from across Maine exhibited at the festival; thanks to the recent addition, this year’s festival can accommodate twice as many artists. The non-juried exhibition features work by artists, amateur or professional, age 50 and older.

Dorothy Alling and Cathy Bradbury, co-chairwomen of Senior College’s eight annual Festival of Arts, have announced that the special guest artist and speaker for Saturday, May 15, will be nationally renowned Belfast artist and resident Linden Frederick. One of this year’s demonstrators will be Judith Fischer of Liberty, who will do her demonstration Friday, May 14 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Fischer was born on the eastern tip of Long Island, New York, the fourth generation of an artistic family, She began her aesthetic instruction at age 6 as her grandmother undertook the task of teaching her the process of beginning to make art. She began in oils, graduated from college with a degree in ceramics, took on large corporate tapestry weaving commissions, conquered watercolors and reveled in pastels.

Over her career, Fischer’s work has included both two and three-dimensional media, but her present choice of subject matter has grown specifically from her move to Maine in 2002. Choosing to build her house and studio in a heavily wooded area gave her the opportunity to become intimate with the character of her new surroundings. The forest portraits depicted in her new series of paintings focus on the anthropomorphic qualities of individual trees and how they interact with their environment. These flashes of intimacy into Maine and New England’s uniquely wooded world are rendered either with muted transparency of watercolor, or the more vibrantly opaque quality of pastel, acrylic or oil.

Whatever the medium, all Fischer’s paintings are, of necessity, very site specific. However, they also can be seen as generalized symbols of the unique essence of our wooded world. Seemingly uniform masses are instead individual characters that undergo additional changes when their environment shifts. Fleeting atmospheric conditions, lighting inherent in specific times of day, the dance of patterns on the forest floor or the subtle hues seen only beneath a woodland canopy cause dramatic alterations in what is usually lumped under the ubiquitous term “the woods.” It is Fischer’s hope that these paintings help us all see the trees for the forest. Another large body of her work is about sailing, not seen from the safety of shore but rather as experienced onboard a sturdy vessel where the viewer is an integral part of the action of wind, water, canvas and sky.

The Festival of Art will open Thursday, May 13 with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 14 hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., followed by a concert by Steel Rail Express from 7 to 9 p.m. Artists’ bios and work and a photography slide show will run all day in the auditorium. Demos will be: Jamie Oates, pottery, noon to 2 p.m.; Lin Calista, matting and framing one’s work, 2 to 4 p.m.; and Judith Fischer, oil painting, 4 to 6 p.m.

Show hours Saturday, May 15 will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be a RSU 20 children’s art reception in the meeting room from 10 a.m. to noon. From 12:30 to 3 p.m., nationally renowned realist painter Linden Frederick will speak about “20 Years of Painting Belfast.”

Hours the final day of the Festival of Art, Sunday, May 16 will be noon to 3 p.m. Admission to the entire festival is free.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.