“Of Land and Sea: Lyrical Images of a Saltwater Farm” will open with a reception for artists Leia Pinnick and Kathleen Perelka Friday, Sept. 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, during the festive Belfast Art Walk. All are welcome. The show will be on display until Oct. 19 at the downtown gallery, 97 Main St.

Story behind the show

In September 1968, the Occidental Petroleum Company, along with Atlantic Richfield and Humble Oil, announced their intentions to construct a refinery and a petrochemical complex at Machiasport on the Point of Main, a 225-acre saltwater farm. As they would be using foreign oil, they applied to the Foreign Trade Zone Board in order to have Machiasport designated as a free trade zone and subsequently filed for import quotas for 100,000 barrels per day.

The New England delegation repeatedly advocated for the establishment of the Machiasport Project on the floor of Congress, with frequent references to national security, local and regional economic benefits, jobs creation and safe technology that would prevent environmental damage. Development options were purchased for all the land and the islands necessary for the project to commence.

But the man who owned Point of Main was the sole holdout and refused to sell at any price. While he prevailed — Point of Main remained a farm — Bruce Sprague suffered tremendous personal sacrifice. Years later, in 2005, Point of Main became Maine Farmland Trust’s first protected farm in Washington County. Sprague’s daughters own it now, and Point of Main is a working farm and a place of wildness and natural beauty.

Maine artists Pinnick and Perelka have spent the past months studying Point of Main Farm through different eyes. Pinnick, painting in acrylic and mixed media with an effervescent brush stroke reminiscent of Van Gogh, has captured more than a landscape. With this exhibit, she has framed some of her family’s history since she is a granddaughter of Sprague. A budding artist, it is one of Pinnick’s first times to exhibit her work publicly.

Perelka, on the other hand, is a well-established artist who is a favorite of many visitors to Maine Farmland Trust Gallery. Known for her vibrant and colorful pastels, which nonetheless convey a palpable stillness and serenity, her steady hand is the perfect counterpart for Pinnick’s dancing brush.

Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide non-profit organization working to permanently preserve and protect Maine’s agricultural lands, and to keep Maine’s farms farming. Maine Farmland Trust created its gallery to celebrate art in agriculture; and to inspire and inform visitors regarding the vibrancy of farming in Maine. For more information, visit mainefarmlandtrust.org.

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