The Embrace - Karen Olson

June 3 – August 20, 2022

Waterfall Arts is excited to welcome artist Karen Olson to our gallery for the summer of 2022. Below are information about the exhibit, artist, and related events.

Opening Reception: June 3rd, 5-8pm

Artist Talk: June 18, 10am

Artist Statement:

I stand quietly in the midst of the trees, examining their texture, following the vein-like branches reaching upward and out. I imagine the network of communication and support beneath the surface and feel the effects of this far reaching community. They/we are interconnected.

In these years we have lost much in the way of human connectedness. Each decision to do so has been fraught with fear. As we imagine the days going forward can this human-nature relationship help us? Do the trees have something to teach? This work is an exploration of interconnectedness. It is a deep, intimate conversation, an embrace.

About the Artist:

Karen Olson is a lens-based artist working at the intersection of human emotion and the natural world. In her figurative and nature-inspired work, Karen uses concept-based projects to explore the human-nature connection and its role in fostering mental health and communication. Karen seeks an open dialog with subjects such as grief, trauma, empathy, and forest bathing. She illustrates these multi-sensory experiences with two and three-dimensional works.0

Exhibition-Related Events:


Young Artists Gallery Takeover

*March is Youth Art Month*

Waterfall Arts is celebrating with its sixth annual Young Artists’ Gallery Takeover. Over 200 works by Waldo County’s next generation of artists will be display throughout the month of March. This year’s showcase occupies not only both galleries at Waterfall Arts, but also the Belfast Free Library, and shop windows throughout downtown Belfast. This epic display of creativity will inspire viewers of any age and is a must-see!

Belfast Free Library hours:
Saturday: 10AM – 2PM
Closed Sundays
Mon: 9:30AM – 8PM
Tues: 9:30AM – 6PM
Wed: 12PM – 8PM
Th: 9:30AM – 6PM
Fri: 9:30AM – 6PM

Downtown windows “gallery” hours: 24/7!

Find your child’s artwork on this document, or at any of the following in-town locations:

Alexia’s Pizza, Bay Wrap, Belfast Fiber Arts, Better Homes and Gardens, CG Bikes, Downshift Coffee, Chocolate Drop Candy Shop, City Drawers, Coyote Moon, Darby’s, Eat More Cheese, Epoch, Fiddlehead Artisan Supply, Heavenly Yarns, Home Supply Center, Katwalk, Belfast Free Library,  Local Color Gallery, Nordic Aquafarms, Out On A Whimsey, People, Places, Things, Quench, Satori, Colonial Theatre, Good Table, Green Store, TJ Eyewear, TOKO, Vinolio, Yo Mammas.

We are proud to share the hard work of our local art educators; the 2022 show includes work from:

Captain Albert Stephens Elementary
Troy Howard Middle School
Belfast Area High School
Searsport Middle and High Schools
Leroy Smith, Wagner, and Nickerson Elementary Schools, Cornerspring Montessori

…and more!

Photos from 2022 Exhibition

Artwork in storefronts and at Waterfall Arts.

Gallery Open Hours

Fridays & Saturdays
10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

All exhibitions are free and open to the public.


Amy Tingle

Program Director

207-338-2222 ext. 104


Upcoming Events:

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Exhibition Opening: The Embrace | Karen Olson

June 3 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm EDT

Join Waterfall Arts as we celebrate the opening of Karen Olson’s solo exhibition, The Embrace, from 5-8pm on Friday, June 3rd, 2022.

We are excited to have Uproot Pie Co. onsite vending wood-fired pizzas, as well as Open Studios throughout the building, and more surprises! A First Friday not to be missed!

Learn more about the exhibition here.


June 3
5:00 pm - 8:00 pm EDT
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Waterfall Arts


Waterfall Arts
256 High Street
Belfast, ME 04915 United States
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Past Exhibits


Photographing Belfast's Waterfront: Then & Now


Friday, June 18 – Sunday, August 29, 2021

At the center of Belfast’s long and colorful history is its dynamic waterfront. From boat building to chicken, sardine and potato processing, Belfast’s shoreline has evolved and transformed with the changing tides of industry, economic cycles, and tourism. Today, we enjoy public access and recreation opportunities alongside a working shipyard.

This extensive photography exhibition explores how Belfast’s identity has evolved –and how it has stayed the same– in tandem with the varied activities and bustle of its harbor. Held at Waterfall Arts in partnership with the Penobscot Marine Museum and the Belfast Historical Society and Museum, the show includes historic images as well as photographs from over a dozen contemporary photographers. The featured works reveal the rich maritime history, commerce, recreation and scenic beauty of Belfast’s waterfront, as documented over the last several decades.

Liv Kristin Robinson, lead curator, has been documenting the evolving Belfast harbor since 1988 and is known for her hand-painted photographic works of the Belfast waterfront, several of which are in the permanent collections of the Portland Museum of Art and the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. Other participating photographers include: Marcie J. Bronstein, Leslie Gregory, Susan Guthrie, Betsy Headley, Jaap Helder, Terry Hire, Kevin Johnson, Lynn Karlin, Mark Kuzio, Ben Magro, Peggy McKenna, Richard Norton, Neal Parent, and Louise Shorette.

This exhibition would not be possible without the curatorial support of Kevin Johnson of the Penobscot Marine Museum and Megan Pinette of the Belfast Historical Society and Museum.


On Friday, June 18th, 5-7pm, Waterfall Arts opened our doors and Gallery for small group viewings. The opening event featured a poetry reading of works themed around the Belfast Waterfront, planned in collaboration with the Office of the Belfast Poet Laureate. Enjoy some images from the evening, below, or find the entire photo album here.

About the Curators

The idea of this exhibit grew out of my decades-long interest in documenting Belfast’s evolving waterfront. When I first arrived in Belfast in 1986, poultry and sardine processing and other manufacturing plants were still active industries along the shoreline. Since the Great Depression— more than a half-century earlier– economic decline had left much of Belfast’s infrastructure derelict. Belfast was then known as where the “chicken met the sea” and few tourists made it a destination when traveling up the coast.

Inspired by a chance meeting in 1988 with legendary Berenice Abbott at a Gallery 68 opening, the famous photographer admonished me to focus my camera on “what was really important– Belfast’s vanishing industrial waterfront!” And so I began taking long walks along Belfast’s neglected shoreline with its disappearing marginal landscapes. I also thought about how Belfast was changing— how young artists and other creative types who had settled in the 1970’s (when real estate was seen as affordable) had helped create a vibrant and exciting community. As a result, many others –like myself, liking the changes they saw– also wanted to call Belfast “home.” But, with their arrival had also come some of the inevitable process of gentrification and more change.

In the 1990s as part of a newly appointed Comprehensive Plan, I advocated, along with several other women from “away,” to restrict future economic activity along the waterfront to “marine-related uses only.”

In 2004 while continuing to document some of what was still left of Belfast’s marginal landscapes and industrial buildings, I made my first digital photographs and soon discovered that with some small adjustment, I could continue to emotionally color or ‘tint’ my images as I had previously done in my black and white, handpainted photographs from the 1980s and ‘90s.

I also thought about what Befast must have been like during its prosperous past with shipbuilding, commerce, tourism and local recreational opportunities. 

Today, with its vibrant waterfront, Belfast has reinvented itself and has once again become an exciting destination.

Every place changes over time but the rate of change is usually slow and gradual. It often goes unnoticed or slips under the radar of day to day life. How a place changes and evolves is a fascinating study and the photograph is the perfect medium to examine it. A photograph is much more accurate than our memories and one can fill books with the words it would take to describe the details and stories a single photo can hold. As we look at over a hundred years of Belfast’s waterfront we learn a lot about the town. There were good years and hard ones. At times it was beautiful and stately but other times it looked harsh and ugly. Each photograph captures a single moment in time, a second or less. These singular moments though, each represent a greater period of time and serve as a gateway to tell the stories of what was happening. How people lived, worked and played. It’s all part of the story, Belfast’s story, our story.

“Photographing Belfast’s Waterfront, Then and Now” is a great opportunity to showcase photographs from the Belfast Museum collection and to work in conjunction with the Penobscot Marine Museum and Kristin Robinson, show curator. Photographers have been documenting our waterfront dating back to the 1870s which gives us a broad timeline of images to draw from to illustrate this show.

Exploring Belfast's Waterfront by Megan Pinette

Click here to learn more about the historical images in the exhibition.

Curators Virtual Tour


Artwork credit: David Hurley

Artfellows: Belfast's Original Cooperative Gallery, 1980-1997

Saturday, September 11 – Saturday, November 6, 2021

Attracted by the state’s unique character and way of life, artists have established communities and flourished in Maine for over a century. In 1980, a number of young Waldo County artists teamed up to form the Artfellows, a group committed to supporting artists and to creating more local opportunities for exhibiting contemporary art. For over a decade, the Artfellows gallery served as a hub of ingenuity, dialogue, and camaraderie. Dozens of Maine’s best-known artists got their start at Art Fellows. This show celebrates the 41st anniversary of the founding of this dynamic community, featuring works made by Artfellows in the 1980s and 1990s, and what they are making today.

We invite the public to visit the exhibition during gallery open hours (Fridays and Saturdays, 11am-3pm). The Artfellows exhibition will be open to the public starting Saturday, September 11th, 2021, through Saturday, November 6th, 2021.
*Exhibition access may also be granted by appointment, during Waterfall Arts office hours: Tuesdays through Fridays, 10am-5pm.

Participating Artfellows

Lesia Sochor

Lorna Crichton

Liv Kristin Robinson

Lois Anne

Janice Anthony

Read Brugger

Alan Crichton

Dan Clarke

Squidge Liljeblad Davis

Janelle Delicata

Randy Fein

Jerry Finch

Maggie Foskett

Jane Gilbert

Nancy Glassman

Stew Henderson

David Hurley

Mike Hurley

Phil Kaelin

Janice Kasper

Tony Kulik

Mark Kuzio

Marika Kuzma

Abbott Meader

Oliver Nuse

James Oates

Martha Oatway

Mat O’Donnell

Nell Moore

Richard Norton

Sandy Olson

Chris Osgood

Tom Osgood

Dee Peppe

Dennis Pinette

Megan Pinette

Philip Prince

Alison Rector

Scott W. Redfern

Michael Reece

Denise Remy

Louise Shorette

Marjorie Strauss

Dana Strout

Deborah Vendetti

About the Curators

Lesia Sochor

Driving in my car one day in 2019, it occurred to me that in 2020, forty years will have passed since the founding of Art Fellows. An idea began to ferment. I proposed to Waterfall Arts that we honor this historic moment by having an exhibit of as many members as we could gather, to celebrate and remember this extraordinary time in Belfast.

Waterfall Arts embraced this proposal and an exhibit was planned for the summer of 2020. Due to Covid, it comes a year later, but with no less enthusiasm. Liv Kristin Robinson and Lorna Crichton jumped on board as co-curators to bring the show to its fruition. I’d like to extend my gratitude to Laura Sheinkopf, Education Director at Waterfall Arts, for her unwavering help.

I was one of the early co-founders of Art Fellows and in 1980 along with Richard Norton, Michael and David Hurley, Marika Kuzma, Margot Balboni and Michael Reece, put together the very first exhibit: ART FELLOWS at the ODD FELLOWS.

The space became a hub of creativity and fun, and in its heyday, a respected venue for contemporary art. It had over 50 members and included many known guest artists such as Alex Katz, Yvonne Jaquette, Neil Welliver, Rudy Burkhart, Rackstraw Downs and others. It was truly a catalyst for Belfast’s creative community.

Looking back, I recognize how unique and remarkable that time was and how grateful I am to have been a part of it.

Lorna Crichton

Inspired by a group of wildly creative artists she met after marriage brought her to Waldo County, Lorna took up photography as her medium. At the Maine Photographic Workshop she learned the basics of black and white, hand-coloring, darkroom techniques and alternative printing processes. She later studied in New York at Hunter College and the International Center for Photography. Along with husband Alan and friends, she is one of the founders of Waterfall Arts and is happy that the Arts Center has grown to be a vital part of our community. One of the early members of Artfellows, she has exhibited in Maine and New York and continues to enjoy the magical alchemy of a handmade image – light time color experience chemical capture paper shadow image emotion reflection beauty.

Liv Kristin Robinson

Attracted by the architecture, sense of community and creativity in the air, I moved to Belfast from New York City in the Spring of 1986 to pursue my passion for photography. Certainly, the two art galleries in town as well as affordable real estate were strong draws. We soon met Harold Garde (another New Yorker) who was making amazing monoprints at Gallery 68 and I was also introduced to Richard Norton who invited me to join the cooperative gallery, Art Fellows, that was just up Main Street. Here I was able to learn from other artists and develop my skills – eventually showing in commercial galleries and museum shows.

A year or so later when Richard decided it was time to close and disband this artists cooperative, a small group of newer members (including Randy Fein, Lucy Carver and myself) took over the administration of the organization and space as we still saw the need for local artists to get together, share their work and build creative community.

Artfellows in the Smithsonian Archives

“Cradle” (2021), by artist Nina Elder, is being exhibited among seven other large-scale drawings and a video installation.


Friday, December 10, 2021 – Sunday, February 13, 2022

Uplift,” a multi-media exploration of the act of lifting by artist Nina Elder, opens at Waterfall Arts on Friday December 10 (National Human Rights Day). Through a residency at Waterfall Arts (with support from The Onion Foundation) during the summer of 2021, artist Nina Elder created eight large-scale drawings. Her inspiration began as she witnessed the care, collaboration, technology, and resources that are used to move yachts from water to land in Belfast harbor.

As a counterbalance to the exclusivity she observed in the conspicuous care of yachts, Nina made these drawings while considering what else is carried in more private realms. Created using marine motor lubricant and industrial pulp mill waste—materials that point to certain non-recreational realities in Maine—these drawings abstract what is uplifted and are meditations on the kinds of invisible emotional lifting we all do.

The attention to the technologies of cradling and carrying boats in the harbor subsequently led Nina to create “Overburden,” a video installation that is debuting as part of this exhibition.

overburden: (verb) to give someone a weight that is too great to carry.

overburden: (noun) the geologic material that is removed to expose a desired underground mineral

From 1902-1987 the Dodge Phelps Corporation dumped massive piles of slag along the United States/Mexico border in Douglas, Arizona. This final product of copper mining is a toxic landscape defined by radioactivity, unfertile soil, and acidified rain and rivers. It is a dramatic and dangerous place that has become a theater for United States politics as enacted by border patrol employees, walls, and myriad forms of surveillance and incarceration technologies. 

“Overburden” documents artist Nina Elder’s attempt to care for and carry away the slag. She uses hand-sewn devices, accentuating both her strength and her softness, to uplift and dignify the pulverized, leached, melted, dumped, and forgotten rocks. 

Amy Tingle, program director at Waterfall Arts, says, “Nina’s work is a direct response to the extraordinary weight in our current world—so many of us feel overwhelmed, overtired, nearly incapacitated by the burdens of the pandemic and the sytemic issues it has unearthed. Nina created from a space of true heartache as she witnessed firsthand the destruction of land caused by greed and cruelty, yet she still managed to ask and attempt to answer the question: ‘what if recognizing internal resiliency and healthy interdependence becomes the hallmark of this challenging time?’ These questions are crucial: Can we help someone else carry a weight that is dragging them down? Can we find beauty in the hoisting, joy in levitation, can we be awed by the miracle of understanding that not one single organism on this entire planet is doing it alone?

Artist and researcher Nina Elder creates projects that reveal humanity’s dependence on and interruption of the natural world. With a focus on changing cultures and ecologies, Nina advocates for collaboration, fostering relationships between institutions, artists, scientists and diverse communities. Her work takes many forms, including drawings, performative lectures, pedagogy and critical writing, long term community-based projects, and public art. Find out more about Nina and her work at http://ninaelder.com

Artist Nina Elder during her July artist residency at Waterfall Arts. Photo by: Chris Battaglia

Albums of images coming soon!













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Waterfall Arts needs your help in order to sustain our free, engaging, and noteworthy exhibitions in our galleries. We want to continue providing our community with rich cultural experiences through the arts.

Waterfall Arts COVID-19 Update

Until further notice, Waterfall Arts requires that all guests and artists registering for our classes and workshops are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or present a negative COVID-19 test (within 24-hours before class). A digital or physical copy of your vaccine card or test result can be presented at the door at the time of the class or emailed directly to our programming director amy@waterfallarts.org prior to class start.

Masks are encouraged when social distancing is not possible. 

** For youth programs, we ask for proof of vaccination (or negative COVID-19 test) of the household adults. If your child is vaccinated, you may submit the child’s COVID-19 vaccination information, instead.**