Arthur Fink: Quaker Photographer, 74

Friend Arthur Fink, who told acquaintances he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, has passed away. The obituary below is borrowed from the Portland Maine Press-Herald:

Noted Peaks Island photographer
Arthur J. Fink dies at 74

Arthur Fink, at work. Or making art. Or maybe doing both.

He had an enduring connection to the Bates Dance Festival, where he served as resident photographer from 2005 through 2017.

Updated April 26 2021
By Dennis Hoey Staff Writer

Arthur Fink, photographed in December 2016. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Arthur J. Fink, a noted Peaks Island photographer who maintained a longtime connection to the Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston, died last week. He was 74.

Fink died Wednesday, April 21, , but no other details were provided in a notice posted on the Jones, Rich & Barnes funeral home website. Fink revealed in a Facebook post last month that he had received a “likely diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.”

On his website, Mei Selvage, research director at Gartner Inc.; information technology executive in enterprise information management, said “Arthur Fink is a multi-talented person with fabulous creativity and heart-warming compassion. His talents, and his dedication to foster creativity and to nurture creative communities, are well known in Maine. He is a creative photographer, a highly experienced IT consultant, a visionary who wants technology to be simple and usable, and somebody who serves for-profit and non-profit organizations alike by asking incisive and helpful questions.”

News about his death spread quickly in the arts community, with friends and acquaintances posting messages and fond memories of him on social media.

“I was so sad to learn that Arthur Fink left us,” Maine poet Katherine Ferrier wrote in a message posted on Fink’s Facebook page. “He was so devoted to the communities he was part of.

Man, did he love to be in the company of artists, makers and thinkers. He had this way of asking questions that always seemed to open doors into more questions, and a wider mindfulness. He gave countless dancers the gift of being seen, in the form of thousands upon thousands of photographs he made over the years. He was a tender-hearted, compassionate human of the highest caliber.”

“Hard to imagine a Portland gathering without Arthur and his camera,” she wrote.

Connie Kincaid-Brown, Principal at Kincaid-Brown Associates said:

“I first met and worked with Arthur when I joined the board of a not-for-profit organization on which he was already serving as the head of the development committee. His passion for the organization’s mission and clear understanding of how to communicate a cohesive message in an esthetically pleasing manner resulted in the organization meeting the goals of its first formal capital campaign. More recently, Arthur has provided me with sound personal and business counseling.”

Laura Faure, who served as director of the Bates Dance Festival for 30 years, described his enduring and significant contribution to the event.

Each summer, the festival would attract dancers, choreographers, performers, educators and students from around the country and world. Faure gave Fink the opportunity to peek inside a world that is not often seen by audiences. He became the festival’s resident photographer, a position he held from 2005 through 2017. Faure said Fink took thousands of photographs.

A detail from one of the thousands of photos Arthur took at the Bates Dance Festival.

“Arthur was very passionate about dance,” she said Sunday evening. “The whole spectrum of dance was his passion. We gave him carte blanche access to dance classes, rehearsal and performances.”

During an interview with the Press Herald in 2014, Fink said that during the festival, he typically would take about 10,000 photos of dancers who had traveled to Lewiston to study with some of the finest choreographers and teachers of modern dance. He would introduce himself at the beginning of the festival, then morph into near anonymity.

“I walk into the studio, and most of them barely see me,” he told the newspaper. Each night, Fink would post photos he shot during the day, allowing dancers to see themselves as he saw them. Faure said he put up the photos on the walls of the Fireplace Lounge at New Commons on the Bates College campus.

“It was the coolest thing he did,” she recalled. “He developed an incredible photo archive of the festival.”

“I feel I am a little bit of a reporter. I have access to this, and it’s a story I want to tell. And it’s the story of the dance you don’t see,” Fink told the Press Herald. “You see the beautiful creation, costumes and lights, and you don’t notice that it was two fellows who tripped over each other and said, ‘There’s something interesting in that. Let’s work on that.’

“It’s a deeply spiritual experience. Being in the studio as dance is created is like being in a delivery room as children are being born.”

Faure said she will remember Fink for being a passionate advocate for the dance festival, as well as an extremely bright, generous and perceptive individual.

Kirk Read met Fink about 20 years ago and the two became friends. Read, a French professor at Bates College, also served on the Bates Dance Festival’s board of directors, but the two got to know each other through a spiritual connection.

Read and Fink were both longtime members of the Portland Friends Meeting, where members of the Quaker faith meet weekly to worship.

Arthur was scheduled to conduct sessions on artmaking as worship at this summer’s (Quaker) Friends General Conference, a national gathering. The sessions are sponsored by the Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts. One of his colleagues said the sessions will go on, in his memory.

Kirk Read said Sunday’s virtual Quaker worship meeting on ZOOM was spent remembering Fink.

“Hearts were heavy today. There was an outpouring of love and grief for this amazing man,” Read said in an interview Sunday evening.

Read said Fink served as the recording clerk, putting his skills as a wordsmith, his gift for language and his uncanny ability to discern the truth to good use.

“Sunday’s meeting was very emotional. Arthur was deeply respected and beloved,” Read said.

Dinah Minot, executive director of Creative Portland, said Fink served as a board member for nine years.

“In public forums, he never hesitated to raise his hand. His kind spirit and insightful comments forced us all to think about the greater good and to be proactive about advocating for the arts,” Minot said in an email. “Arthur was a gentle giant with a beautiful, compassionate soul. He lived in the present moment and he was a generous lover of life. We will miss him very much.”

In a Facebook post on March 1, his birthday, Fink broke the news about his health to his friends.

“My birthday, March 1, was quite strange. The first thing I received was a likely diagnosis of pancreatic cancer,” he wrote.

Fink’s website provides some insight into his background and interests. He described himself as a consultant with a degree in physics from Swarthmore College and a graduate degree in computer science from Harvard.

“When someone asks, ‘Who is Arthur Fink?’ the answer is that I am a consultant, coach, speaker and facilitator who assists my clients in achieving insight and clarity through a careful, intentional process. I strive to inspire clients as they undertake their most important work.”

3 thoughts on “Arthur Fink: Quaker Photographer, 74”

  1. I am so sorry to hear this. Our paths crossed very occasionally on Quaker social media. Friend Arthur Fink had many talents, and he will be sorely missed.

  2. I was sad and surprised to learn of Arthur’s passing. His passion for dance was evident in his beautiful photography. I must have seen it at the Lemonade Art Gallery at the Friends General Conference Summer Gathering. Though I didn’t know him well, our paths crossed many times at Quaker gatherings. He seemed a rather humble soul and I always appreciated his presence. He will be missed, but in many ways, the essence of him will remain for many generations to enjoy through his beautiful photography and the stories his family and friends may pass along to others.

  3. Arthur was a wonderful Friend we all got to know in this year of Zoom Quaker worship hosted by Pendle Hill in Wallingford, PA. This year he shared many inspirations during the pandemic, including the concept of “dayenu- it would have been enough”, with the outpouring of blessings that God provided to the ancient Jews and also to us. Even as his health faded, he continued to worship with us and to share the wisdom and gratitude that blessed us.

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