Arthur Fink, it seemed, was everywhere. At every art opening, every lecture, he arrived early to get a good look at the art or a good seat. A photographer himself, he was among the most loyal in Portland’s art crowd, always showing up and supporting others.
On Thursday, the Maine Jewish Museum opens an exhibition of Fink’s photography, “Dancing in the Light,” giving the community the chance to support Fink’s art, his memory and his family. Fink, who lived on Peaks Island with his wife, Aaiyn, died in April at age 74, soon after he announced publicly he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. “Dancing in the Light” honors Fink for his decades-long commitment to photographing dancers associated with the Bates Dance Festival.
There is a public reception from 5-7 p.m. Thursday. A memorial for Fink will be from 1-3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lions Club on Peaks Island.
Nanci Kahn, curator of photography at the museum and herself a dancer, and Bruce Brown, curator emeritus at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, co-curated the exhibition. They spent many hours in Fink’s East End studio looking at photographs from a period of many years. “What Bruce and I tried to do was put together Arthur’s greatest hits,” said Kahn, who met Fink in the 1990s when she danced in Portland. “We tried to pick photographs that have astounding beauty to them and gracefulness and that show the work that goes into dance. And we tried to show the emotion of dance, as well.”
Kahn and Fink shared a love of dance and a love of photography. She was trading classes at Casco Bay Movers in return for her photography when they met. At the time, Fink was just beginning to make what became his annual treks to Bates each summer to photograph dancers there, in rehearsal and in performance.
“He was at every rehearsal, because he found that to be where the work is really done, where the dancers can be themselves,” Kahn said. “Being a dancer and knowing Arthur’s long passion for it, I feel a real connection, personally as well as professionally. It’s an honor to work on this show.”
The photographs are hung on either side of the first-floor hallway of the museum. Brown, who often accompanied Fink to the dance festival in Lewiston and helped him curate his annual exhibition of photographs at the college, described Fink’s photographs as “a wonderfully artistic documentation of the Bates Dance Festival tradition. He was a strong, strong photographer, capable of taking some really wonderful pictures that captured the grace and athleticism of dance.”
A longtime friend, Brown called the new exhibition “a very special celebration for Arthur, for the museum, for the Bates Dance Festival and for the entire community.”
Aaiyn Foster, Fink’s widow, said the exhibition provided an “opportunity for sacred closure.” She is in the process of going through her late-husband’s artwork, determining what to sell, what to keep and how to shape his legacy. “Dancing in the Light” gives his friends the chance to remember him and others the chance to experience the passion and commitment he brought to his art, she said.
“I want people to be lifted up and inspired by Arthur’s brilliant photography,” she said.