Morris David Dorenfeld

The Caldbeck Gallery will open its 42nd year with the retrospective exhibition “Morris David Dorenfeld: Tapestry Master,” featuring 27 works created over the last 40 years of the artist’s long life. Dorenfeld, late of Spruce Head, passed away on Feb. 13 of this year at the age of 85.

The show will run from May 1 to 29, with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. May 5.

In addition, the new book on the life and art of the artist, titled “The Tapestries of Morris David Dorenfeld: Paintings in Fiber,” will be available at the gallery.  The opening reception will include a book signing with author Chris Williamson.  Proceeds from the sale of this book will go toward The Morris David Dorenfeld Foundation, which the artist established in order to fulfill his dream that his work be preserved in museums and private collections, and that funding be given to artists working in the fiber arts.

Encompassing the development of the artist’s work since 1980, the exhibit includes his final tapestry, “Light at the End of the Tunnel,” completed early in 2023. All the works are selected from the artist’s collection, which is being cared for by art consultant Ron Crusan of Port Clyde and Dorenfeld’s Spruce Head neighbor and friend Chris Williamson. The Caldbeck Gallery has represented the artist since 2008 and is pleased to be able to once again share his work with its audience.

After studying painting in the 1960s at the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as the Art Students’ League in New York City, Dorenfeld ultimately found his true medium a couple of decades later, when at the age of 42, just as he was moving from New Hampshire to Maine, he came upon a beautiful old barn loom stored in a farmhouse attic. He wrote about how this discovery led to a major transition in his work: “I came to weaving through the serendipity of discovering a beautiful old barn loom in New Hampshire. It opened the door to weaving for me, and planted the idea that I could learn this iconic fiber medium, which has held me in its thrall for over four decades. I never did resurrect that old loom, though I have it still. Instead, all of my weavings are made on a much treasured vertical Finnish Varpapuu tapestry loom, around which my life and home in Maine revolve. I use the loom to weave wool tapestries — paintings in fiber.  The weavings rely on compositions of harmony, proportion, balance, and above all, the visual music of color. Brilliant primary color itself is the subject of the artwork — color is king!”

Dorenfeld’s debt to Abstract Expressionists like Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Philip Guston can be seen in his bold, uninhibited use of color. Yet, even as all artists owe a debt to those who came before, Dorenfeld created work that evolved to be independent of influence.

Through his choice of medium and his personal experience, he developed his own voice — and his own visual truth.

Dorenfeld moved to Maine in 1978 and early on was influenced by the dramatic light of the Maine coast. Although over the years his work became progressively abstract in concept, design and color, life along the shore remained a constant source of inspiration throughout his life.

Caldbeck Gallery is at 12 Elm St., Rockland. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and by appointment. For more information, email [email protected], go to, or call 207-594-5935.

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