Portland has such a vibrant art community, and we’ve chosen to showcase some of the local talent here, in Maine, through a rotating gallery in common spaces at The Francis. Each exhibit will either feature an artist or subject from Maine. Our third exhibition features MJ Benson and her recent works.


Artist Statement

As a painter, I love the balance of the horizon, its ever steady line of delineation between the spaces of land, sky, sea. It’s the first stroke I make on the surface, and often the last. In between are layers and layers of light and color, sprung from memory but unbound by realism. I start with a framework, a few rules around composition or color, but it’s the tension between what I expect and what the painting is telling me that dictates the flow and finish. I work, watch, and wait, until the ever fickle shifting between place and memory stills itself harmoniously on the canvas.


I grew up on the New England Coast, running along the edges of the water, swimming in its balmy waves, and sailing on its moody surface. I started my art practice as a photographer, working with alternative landscapes and materials, and moved into painting after moving to Maine in 2006. The ocean has always been my elegant muse, a balance point in the upheaval and ennui of a curious life.


BFA – School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University
EdM – Harvard University
Courses – Maine Photography Workshops, Haystack Mountain School of Fine Craft, Maine College of Art


You can find more information about MJ and view some of her works on her website:


We will celebrate MJ’s ‘Recent Works’ with a public reception during Portland’s First Friday Art Walk on September 7, 5-8pm. Visitors can meet artist MJ Benson, wander among the works and enjoy cocktails & hors d’oeuvres from Bolster, Snow & Co., The Francis’s on-site restaurant. ‘Recent Works’ will remain on display until December with its 30 pieces available for purchase, ranging from $800 to $3,500.