Snow on the Marsh, 22″ x 30″, mixed media on Stonehenge paper
[R]oland Salazar Rose was active in the Maine art scene in the 1980s, both as an artist and as founder of Danforth Gallery, a nonprofit artists’ space in Portland. Between 1988 and 2006, he spent much time in Mexico, creating paintings that tended toward figurative abstraction and icon. Since returning to Maine, Salazar has pursued his own distinctive take on the local landscape.
You aim to express the essence of Maine rather than its appearance. How do you achieve that?
To render the essence of Maine, I felt I needed to divorce myself from subject matter — I needed to penetrate it rather than project it. You may not see a special Maine place that you remember in these paintings. What you will see is not the formal Maine, its outer skin, but a reflection of Maine’s interior, its heart.
How has the Maine art scene changed since you founded the Danforth Gallery in 1986?
The First Friday Portland Art Walk started only 12 years ago, and with it came increased interest in the visual. The arts community was enhanced when the Maine College of Art renovated the landmark Porteous Building in the late 1990s. Indeed, it is fair to say that the ’90s art scene can be credited with the revitalization of downtown Portland. The fact is that artists, and those who support the arts, are always reinventing themselves: change is a constant in a city with creative life and character.
Why did you submit Snow on the Marsh for The Art of Giving?
Snow on the Marsh is number 11 in my “Sky, Land & Sea: Maine 2014” series. All of these paintings explore Maine with the goal of achieving abstract, yet recognizable representations. I was determined not to have any additional elements, such as people, boats, houses, and animals — only land, sea, and sky. I wanted our natural environment to be at the center of your vision and cause you to ask, “What can I do to help guarantee this fragile environment is maintained and not destroyed by our very human presence?”
Why did you select Community Partners for your charity?
My friend Richard Tryon called on me in 1967 to join him as a cosponsor of a nonprofit endeavor he wanted to launch in Biddeford. His idea was to make it possible for area families to make a better life for those with developmental disabilities. What began as Dick’s vision with doubtful chance to succeed now 50 years later continues to provide direct support services to adults with developmental and other intellectual disabilities and autism throughout southern and central Maine.
The Art of Giving is Down East’s annual celebration of Maine art, artists, and the community organizations they hold dear. This year’s event is generously sponsored by Northbridge Companies, the Maine Community Foundation, Globe Pequot/Down East Books, Cellardoor Winery, and Camden National Bank.