“Compost Paintings: The Cycle of Life” will open Friday, June 1 with a reception from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, 97 Main St. The show will feature a range of new works by Ed Nadeau including oils on canvas and compost drawings. In addition, local artist Vincent Abaldo will create an interactive installation in the window of the gallery commenting on the same theme.

For a fine art painter to devote a whole body of work to the subject of compost is certainly pushing the edge, but Ed Nadeau, a UMaine assistant professor who teaches two-dimensional design, painting and drawing, likes it that way.

“Lots of art is rather safe these days,” he said. “Tough art has taken a back seat.”

Nadeau sees his compost paintings as metaphors about the cycle of life. Composting is not only a transformative process that takes what has died and recycles it into nourishment for new life, it also is an almost reverent act which reminds us of our place in the circle of life. For Nadeau, there is a very personal connection to the death-rebirth symbolism conveyed by the Compost series.

“My father died when I was 15. It made me realize that come hell or high water, I should do what I really love — and that is painting. This idea of regeneration, the cycle of things dying and going back into the earth to help new things grow, is a real connection to my dad,” he said.

Nadeau’s paintings have been exhibited widely and are held in many private collections both nationally and internationally. The exhibit will be on display until July 11. Maine Farmland Trust Gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and into the evening during Belfast Art Walks. For more information, visit mainefarmlandtrustgallery.org.

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