Is There Something We Can Do at Steel House Projects, Rockland, Maine

What would an exhibition be without an expert photographer to document it? It was delightful to work with Dave Clough during my recent exhibition at Steel House. Dave beautifully captured the architecture of the gallery and of the book itself as displayed in the round on a pedestal. He also caught the original digital version that ran onscreen, the wonderful display case inside which Richard Reitz Smith documented his materials and timeline for the book’s production, and some of my earlier paintings that provided context for the book. Thanks also to Alexis Iammarino and Maeve O’Regan, co-curators, for their invitation to present the story behind my book, Is There Something We Can Do..

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My YIMBY Project: Habitat and Painting Practice

Here in Lincolnville, the back field’s been mowed and the front meadows await their turn, awash in goldenrod and asters. It’s a visual confusion of color and texture that provides habitat and opportunity for new paintings.

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I'm not much of a gardener in the traditional sense, so this time of year, the meadows and stream banks between my house and the road are overrun with fading goldenrod and still-blooming asters. It's a visual confusion of color and texture that provides food and shelter for many small mammals, birds, and butterflies, both local and migratory. I'll leave the center meadows unmowed for a while longer. But the back field's been bush-hogged, and it's possible to walk to the far property line to check out the low bush blueberry patch and bayberry shrubs that grow there.

As I walk, I daydream. I envision a path around the perimeter, with stopping points. Just behind the house, two boulders sit one on top of the other. They came out of the rain garden when it was dug. The blueberry patch near the back west corner of my property is a secluded place that exudes a particular energy. Along the northwest line, a single tamarack rises against the sky. Returning in the opposite direction to the front meadows, the habitat changes. Pine, spruce and cedar are followed by red oak, already massive, and red maples resprout from trees long gone. Across the orchard, and on up toward the lower southwest side below a seasonal waterfall, a grey dogwood has tripled in size over the years I've been here.

A few years ago, when I was developing materials for a class in drawing the landscape, Kristen Lindquist was kind enough to offer her impressions of this place.  She wrote that it is "a natural oasis humming with life and beauty—beyond dragonflies poised on pondside cattails, the perfection of floating water lilies, goldfinch’s chatter, vireo’s endless warbling, waving constellations of Queen Anne’s Lace, scent of sun-soaked sweet fern, and that distant glimpse of the sea— [we] fully understand the underlying structure, geology, and essential personality of a place. By opening our creative selves to connect, through images and words, with the larger, unified world around us, we can inhabit our dual roles as both creators and caretakers."

So here's my plan. As I maintain this habitat for wildlife, I want to make it easier for visitors to enjoy walking. I want to provide a Maine version of Japanese forest-bathing.

For as much as this landscape gives me, in subject matter and inspiration for paintings, I will give back to it, preserving it as habitat and ensuring that the annual succession from swelling buds and March mud, to fall bay and winterberry, to Christmas balsam and spruce, continue on.

This blog was originally published in my newsletter. More text and images here.

In the News

The Litchfield County Times has posted a review of Susan Finnegan's and my collaborative work at the Washington Art Association. Read more . . . .

In an article on Vasari 21, Ann Landi proves that "Blooms, posies, blossom, and gardens will never go out of style." Two of my botanical paintings are included in the mix. Read more . . . .  

"Artist Dudley Zopp finds inspiration from trees in own backyard" - read Kay Stephens' interview in the PenBay Pilot

Newsletter: Throwing Paint

My statement about the collaborative drawings that Susan Bogle Finnegan and I did in Louisville in 1993, and more about Side by Side, the exhibition of our work that she's curated for the Washington Art Association in Connecticut. We used charcoal, acrylic, brushes, and our hands to paint with, but the most fun was had with a broom. Photo credit: Richard Bram.

Read More