The artist in winter: Walpole oil painter Susan Bartlett Rice currently has a lovely exhibit of 10 of her winter paintings on display at the Bristol Area Library. A mixture of landscape and wildlife paintings, the cheery show brightens the section of the library where it hangs.
Rice joined me at the library recently, where we chatted about her artwork, including the work she will be doing through October as part of her 2017 artist-farm partnership with Tarbox Farm in Westport Island. Rice is one of 13 Maine artists chosen by the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell to take part in its Community Supporting Arts project called CSA II, which pairs artists with CSA (community-supported agriculture) farms. As Harlow Gallery’s call to artists put it last year, “Each artist will seek inspiration in his or her counterpart’s (the farmer’s) life, work, landscape, ideals, and challenges over the course of the 2017 growing season and create work based on their experiences and observations.”
Rice said she recently visited Tarbox Farm in advance of painting there. She plans to return to the farm – which grows fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs, and raises pigs – very soon to paint it while it is still in winter mode. “I’d like to do at least one piece that’s just from the total quiet, the farm’s dormant time. … I have always liked winter,” she said, adding that she looks forward to creating paintings of pigs as well as paintings of people working on the farm later in the year. Her CSA II paintings will be displayed along with the work of the 12 other CSA II artists at three venues in the fall – the Harlow Gallery, Engine in Biddeford, and Maine Farmland Trust’s art gallery in Belfast.
Fans of Rice’s huge, colorful mural in Portland depicting clamdiggers (on the side of the building on the corner of Washington Avenue and Congress Street, for those unfamiliar with it) should be happy to know that she is in the process of looking for a barn in Lincoln County on which to paint another mural as part of her CSA II work. “I have to find the opportunity to do that,” she said. “I could paint a public mural in a rural setting. … I’m always driving around looking (for a barn).”
Rice said that “painting that big is hard, a very different experience from painting small,” but she likes the challenge. If the mural project pans out, she will photo-document the process of making it and present her documentation at her fall CSA II exhibit.
Rice’s current art exhibit will be on the walls of the Bristol Area Library, at 619 Old County Road in Bristol, through Tuesday, Feb. 28. The library is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday from 2-6 p.m.; and Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. Learn more about Rice’s art at susanbartlettrice.com. Call her with barn tips at 563-7050. Look for Rice’s next solo show in the spring at Savory Maine Dining & Provisions in Damariscotta.
Speaking of art and farming: Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Newcastle is accepting applications for its July 2-19 Farm & Fire Fellowship. The center is partnering with neighboring Dandelion Spring Farm to offer this fellowship, during which “fellows gain hands-on experience in the running of an art center and an organic farm while greatly contributing to both operations,” as the residency is described at watershedceramics.org (click on “Residencies,” then go to “Farm & Fire Fellowship”).
One must be enrolled as a junior or senior in a Bachelor of Fine Arts or Bachelor of Arts program with a concentration in ceramics to apply. A nonrefundable fee of $250 is required of chosen participants, but food, housing, studio space, material, and firing costs are covered by the fellowship.
“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” – Masanobu Fukuoka, “The One-Straw Revolution”
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