Waterfall Arts, 256 High St., will kick off the 2012 exhibition season with an opening reception Friday, March 2 for three building-wide shows: “Painters, Players & Poets”; “Branching Out: Water”; and “Gardiner Area Artists.” The opening celebration will run from 5 to 7 p.m. All work will be on display through March 28.

‘Painters, Players & Poets’

After being closed since December, the first-floor Clifford Gallery will host the sole Midcoast appearance of the acclaimed multi-media touring exhibit “Painters, Players and Poets,” a collaboration celebrating the talents of 16 painters, nine musicians/composers, seven poets and 16 furniture makers. Writer/producer Con Fullam asked several well-known Maine composers and poets to identify a living Maine painter whose work inspired them and to choose a specific work to interpret through poetry or music. Fullam originally had the idea when he was a young man visiting the home of South Berwick painter Dewitt Hardy; he began working on this project three years ago.

Exhibition visitors will use a CD player to listen to the original words or music as they view the paintings and sit in the custom-made chairs. Some of the featured musicians are Noel Paul Stookey, Jonathan Edwards, Cindy Bullens, Paul Sullivan, Fullam and Brad Terry, who will perform at concert March 25 at the arts center. Among the painters are Hardy, Dahlov Ipcar, Kate Cheney Chappell, Rob Shetterly and Monica Kelly. Poets include Martin Steingesser, Betsy Sholl and Jeffrey Thomson. Chairs are made by Thomas Moser, Kevin Rodel, Wayne Hall, Peter Turner, Aaron Fedarko and 12 others.

‘Branching Out: Water’

The second exhibit highlights innovative work of artist mentoring teams in the downstairs FallOut Shelter. A popular program now in its fifth year, Branching Out pairs working artists with local teen artists to create collaborative art of all media, based on an environmental theme. This year’s theme is water as a precious global resource. The show offers paintings, claywork, installations, video animation, fiberwork and photography. Participating artists are Kenny Cole, Kris Engman, Ingrid Ellison, Kevin Johnson, Joan Proudman, MaryJean Viano Crowe, Beth Berman, Seth Whited and Russell Kahn. Teens are from Belfast, Camden, Searsport, Liberty, Brooks and Northport.

‘Gardiner Area Artists’

Six artists from the ArtDogs studio collective in downtown Gardiner round out the exhibitions in the Corridor Gallery with work on three floors. Karen Adrienne, John Carnes, Matt Demers, Judith Schuppien, Scott Minzy and Nancy Barron — and two local friends, Robert Saunders and Ed Mackenzie — will show about 25 pieces altogether.

Waterfall Arts is Waldo County’s nonprofitcommunity art center, supported by and serving residents and visitors of all ages since 2000. To learn more about exhibitions, classes, events and artist residencies, visit waterfallarts.org or call 338-2222.

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