The Strasburg Film Festival documentary feature A Painter who Farms follows Allen Whiting, a farmer who has been living off the land as his family has for 12 generations. Allen Whiting is also a plein-air painter, whose depictions of island landscapes can be found in the collections of the rich and famous who have been visiting his home gallery since the 70s. From his taciturn delivery to his creative expression of the beauty that surrounds him, Allen Whiting is the human embodiment of the island in which his roots run deep, and from which he derives his inspiration: Martha’s Vineyard.
A Painter Who Farms will be shown Friday, November 9th at 10:30 AM at the Town of Strasburg Council Chambers. Individual Tickets can be found on the film’s event page.
David Fokos is a world-renowned photographic artist, and Barbarella Fokos is an award-winning journalist. Together, they are Emmy Award-winning filmmakers and partners in every sense of the word, as they both share a passion for art, travel, food, drink, and storytelling.
Seated in a tattered chair in his weather-beaten barn-turned-studio, Allen shrugs and says, “For every time I think they’re buying [a painting] because I’m just a great artist, I know in fact that they’re buying it because it reminds them of this place.” Of course, by “they,” he’s referring to his clientele, which includes the musician Carly Simon, who credits Allen as the inspiration for one of her songs. Perhaps the most appealing quality Allen has, and what drew us to him as a subject of our next documentary, is how humble he is despite his popularity and the fact that the rich folks who summer on his little “meadow by the sea” consider this modest painter and farmer to be “island royalty.” As he paints on a private beach, access to which his family has sold over the years to make ends meet at the farm, Allen becomes suddenly self conscious about his rhapsodizing: “It sounds deep, maybe it doesn’t, but it isn’t. Understand that. I’m not a deep thinker. I’m a blue collar kind of guy. I just like what I see, and I try to paint it. It’s about that simple.”
Being the skeptics we are, we expected through our many weeks of filming that we would happen upon a skeleton or two in that dusty, hundreds of years-old barn. But as everyone who knows him well has told us, with Allen, what you see is what you get. This painter and farmer is summed up by his life-long best friend, the fisherman Chris Murphy, who, in answering our question, “What are three words that describe Allen,” said, “Kind is one of them. And you know what? I think I’ll use that two more times, and leave it there.”