Washburn artist hosts first solo exhibition at Wintergreen

6 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — For Washburn-based artist Filomena Irving, the night of Friday, Feb. 2, marked her first solo exhibition and one of many times when she has been grateful for pursuing her lifelong love of art. 

As a child growing up in Italy and later Toronto, Ontario, Irving often attended art exhibitions with her family and felt inspired by the variety of work she would see hanging on the walls. But she did not find the courage to try out her own skills until three years ago when her husband suggested that she attend a local art workshop hosted by Maine painter Tim Gagnon. She soon discovered a love of painting watercolor and acrylic landscapes, seascapes and flowers.

Filomena Irving (Courtesy of Wintergreen Arts Center)

“I was still teaching school at the time and in the evenings after school I would start painting and work through the night,” Irving said. “Art has given me what I needed to express myself and now that I’ve retired I can’t wait to get up every morning and paint.”

At Wintergreen Arts Center, Irving also showcased her greeting cards and wearable art, including beanies, scarves and headbands. She calls the accessories “wearable art” because she sends her paintings to a company in Canada that uses her art as the product’s design.

In fall 2017, Irving began creating greeting cards and wearable art as a way to sell her work to people who normally might not be able to afford the often expensive prices of paintings. Many of her scarves also have found a greater purpose in the people who wear them.

“People have approached me and told me that someone they know is going through chemotherapy and they’ve asked me to make scarves for them,” Irving said.

Throughout Friday evening, around 50 friends and community members gathered away from the cold weather outside and chatted warmly with Irving, congratulating her on the exhibit and sharing their admiration of her work.

“I absolutely love her poppy flower paintings,” Halina Herzog said, while she gazed at many of Irving’s small watercolor pieces. “They’re so original and the color lines are very specific.”

Herzog soon purchased Irving’s “Poppies: Series Two” painting.

Presque Isle resident Martha LaPointe also attended Irving’s exhibit.

“I’m a big fan of the flowers because I’m a gardener,” she said.

Irving is Wintergreen’s featured artist of the month and her work will be on display at the center throughout February.