In the span of two years, Anna Dennis Dibble lost her husband, her mother and one of her dogs.
It was a time of remarkable loss and change for the painter, who sold her house in Vermont and nearly all of her possessions and moved to a condominium on Munjoy Hill in Portland. There, she began to reshape her life, using her daily painting practice as a way to navigate her grief and a path forward.
Dibble shows about two dozen paintings that emerged from her transition at George Marshall Store Gallery in York. The exhibition, “Confluence,” is on view through July 9.
Dibble’s work shifted when she moved from the mountains of her native Vermont to the sea of her adopted Maine. The title comes from the confluence of her recovery and her interest in the losses and changes in ecological biodiversity because of climate change.
Living in Portland, Dibble has become more aware of rising sea levels and issues associated with it. She spends a lot of time at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and paints from her fourth-floor condominium that looks out onto Casco Bay. Dibble fills her paintings with symbolic images of evolution, ancient marine life, birds, boats and humans, and explores her own personal mythology based on her love of the natural world and concern for its future.
“I just started painting and following my nose,” she said, creating a world with her paintings of the past, present and future.
She switched from oils to acrylics, and her paintings have become more layered and embedded with symbolism. Her colors became more earthy, and she was drawn particularly to shades of blue.
Dibble fills her paintings with birds – not exotic but common birds, like crows, pigeons and gulls. The birds of the city, she said. “I’m really interested in their flight,” she said. “On the fourth floor, I’m on the same level with them when they swoop by.”
In her paintings, the birds represents climate change and the boats represent people, both on their own journeys through time and space to an uncertain future.
“I’m following a dim narrative, based on our current disconnection to the wild,” Dibble said in her artist statement. “We read the history of life on earth in the layers of rocks. We read the history of humans on earth in the ice cores. The ice cores tell us we started altering earth’s atmosphere around the time of the industrial revolution. At the same time we became more urbanized, and began losing our crucial connection to the land, water, other animals, and weather. The confluence of these two inceptions is the source of our current ecological crisis.”
Dibble has shown her paintings in galleries, museums and cultural centers across New England for 40 years. Before she became a painter, she worked as a writer and designer for animated shorts on the TV show for children “Sesame Street,” as well films and TV shows for Disney, Marvel and other companies. She also has designed and created sets for opera and theater.
WHERE: George Marshall Store Gallery, 140 Lindsay Road, York
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday; through July 9
INFO: georgemarshallstoregallery.com, 351-1083.