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January – Paul Heroux and Anna Dibble Studio visits and discovering Pineland Farms

On my way, on a blue-sky day – January 15, 2021

Maine artist, Paul Heroux had kindly lent me four small pedestals that I used for several exhibitions in the gallery. They were taking up considerable room in the back of my car and I wanted to return them to Paul in New Gloucester, Maine where he lives. My goal was to go on a blue-sky day and combine the visit with cross country skiing at the Pineland Farms touring center. More about Pineland in a bit.

Yesterday presented the blue-sky day but I knew there wasn’t significant snow in New Gloucester. The decision to take a road trip was made easy when I was informed by the power company that we would lose our electricity for several hours while they replaced a pole in the neighborhood. When the power was cut off and our smoke detectors started their piercing chirping every 30 seconds, I grabbed my keys and was on my way.

First Stop – Paul Heroux – Maine Ceramic Artist

Paul Heroux is one of Maine’s standout ceramic artists. He received both his undergraduate and masters degrees from the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and taught at Bates College for three decades. His impressive resume lists his work in numerous museum and private collections. I had the privilege of showing his work at the George Marshall Store Gallery and he has recently exhibited at the June LaCombe Gallery, Corey Daniels Gallery and Cove Street Arts.

He is primarily a maker of vessels with surface decorations referencing plant life, erotics, landscapes and other changing influences. Some recent work subtilty uses the spiky image of the Corona virus and he kindly asked me to choose a small vase with that motif to take home.To learn more about Paul and see images of his work Click Here for his website.

For all his accomplishments, Paul is a very modest and soft-spoken man. His aesthetic is apparent in his surroundings: the charming house and studio that he built and the sloped gardens. On this bright winter day, the ground is partially covered in a crusty snow. The structure of the garden is punctuated with dried grasses, evergreens and the red stems of shrubs – a beautiful winter garden. A soothing sound comes from a small water feature which bubbles gently, powered by a hidden solar panel. I have seen the garden in the summer and the fall and can attest to its year-round artistic beauty. 
Click Here to view images from my visit.

A beautiful public art project in Charleston, South Carolina

In 2015 Paul designed and was involved in the production and installation of a 32 foot by 3 foot tiled water feature in Theodora Park in Charleston, South Carolina. I have always wanted to visit this historic city and now have additional incentive to see Paul’s work.
To learn more about the park Click Here.

Tiles used on the walls and floor of the water feature

Discover Pineland Farms

Cows at Pineland Farms

From Paul’s, I headed down the road to Pineland Farms. As I approached the numerous large red barns and brick buildings stood out in bright contrast to the rolling snow-covered hills. Pineland Farm is a 5,000-acre working farm, diverse business campus and educational and recreational venue that operates year-round.

The history of the farm is fascinating. It originally was opened by the State of Maine in 1908 as The Maine School for the Feeble Minded. Part of the history is quite sad but thanks to the Libra Foundation who purchased the property in 2000, it is now an incredible resource for the community and the region.
The brochure I picked up list the Welcome Center and Market, Dairy Barn, Heifer Barn, Calf Barn, Smokehouse, Education Barn and Family Farmyard, Chicken Barn, Equestrian Center and Gardens & Grounds. There are both summer and winter recreation activities: hiking and biking trails, Disc Golf, orienteering and tennis, cross county skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, fatbiking and skating. While I was there, families were ice skating, sledding and enjoying lunch in the market and the outdoor plexi igloos.
There is extensive information on the Pineland Farms website.

There was no skiing for me that day but I do plan on going back once the snow gods deliver. As it was getting close to noon, I ventured into The Market, which sells fresh fruits and vegetables, gourmet products, books and gifts, local craft beers and locally produced meats and cheeses.

I picked up a delicious grilled pastrami and swiss sandwich, a ginger cookie, and a small frittata to bring home for dinner. You can find many of Pineland products in your local grocery store. I encourage you to choose a blue-sky day of your own and venture forth to Pineland Farms, New Gloucester, Maine.

Anna Dibble – New to Maine and making her mark

Anna Dibble in her studio

From Pineland I headed east to visit artist Anna Dibble in North Freeport. Anna is fairly new to the state of Maine, coming from Vermont in the Spring of 2015. It isn’t always easy to start over in a new community, but with her positive and out-going personality she has made a name for herself as a hard-working artist and friend.
She describes herself as a self-taught artist however she studied at the Parsons School of Design, The New School, The Boston Museum School, The Vermont Studio Center, and the Pittsburgh Art Institute. Her paintings are colorful, filled with animals and profiles of figures moving through imaginary landscapes.

Painting titled Migration

One might describe them as naïve and reference aboriginal art. Many suggest a narrative that questions our relationship with nature and the universe.

Yet again, another modest person. Among her many accomplishments, she was a freelance writer, music composer, and co-designer for multiple animated shorts on Children’s Television Workshop’s Sesame Street. She designed and created sets for opera and theater, taught workshops in both visual art and writing in Vermont and Maine schools. In the 1980s and ’90s she worked in commercial and independent animation in Los Angeles – feature films, television specials, theatrical shorts for Disney, Marvel, Hanna Barbera, Murakami-Wolf, Don Bluth, among many others.

She describes her current series, ‘Intrepid Voyagers’, as responding to “both the pandemic and the climate emergency. It emerges from a sense that all living beings are now refugees of a kind – traveling virtually and literally in search of something elusive, something enlightening perhaps. The paintings address our strong biological urge to survive, hold hope and curiosity close to our hearts, and keep trying to follow unanswered questions, no matter the odds.”
Click Here for Anna’s website

There is always more to do – like building a Right Whale

Besides her studio practice, in 2018 she designed and launched a multi-year collaborative public art/ocean science initiative: The Gulf of Maine Ecology Arts Project, which focuses on the changes in biodiversity in the Gulf due to climate change and other human impact. The central piece – a large scale sculpture installation featuring an artist & student-built Right whale, and other endangered marine animals made from recycled, re-purposed materials. The first venue will be the Bigelow Laboratory of Ocean Science, Boothbay, Maine – Summer/Fall 2021. To read more about this project Click Here.

Where to next…

I have a number of ideas about where I will go next and some of the artists that I plan to visit. This newsletter and future ones will be posted on my website. Please feel free to email me. I am always open to ideas and suggestions. Mary Harding mhardingart@gmail.com

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