During September, Centre Gallery at the Unity College Centre for the Performing Arts, 42 Depot St., is displaying the work of collage artist Lola Tang and painter and art rescuer/renovator Dale Dapkins. A reception for their joint exhibit, “Buddha Belly — Stolen Art,” will be held at the gallery Saturday, Sept. 25 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Tang grew up amidst images of the sweet Buddha in paintings and statues. Although he prefers simplicity it does not upset Buddha that people want to gild him in gold. Whenever his image is the focus of attention, his love of people comes alive. The Buddha’s serenity helped him appreciate so many of life’s situations, humor, flowers, color and happiness, so when Tang marries rocks with water, he smiles. Tang’s work has been shown in Maine in Rockland and Damariscotta.

Dapkins has said that once an artist crosses the line separating traditional art from experimental art, new worlds open up.

“It’s important to understand that artists tend to walk around in an aroused state intoxicated by nature. Sometimes we carry our love too far,” he said.

Some get lucky, though, and after years of While some manage to pin a piece of Mother Nature to their canvas — Dapkins offers Church, Kent and the Wyeths as examples — the rest of us, if we’re lucky, rediscover the primitive gutsy soul which once poured from our hearts so freely when we first took up the paint brush, that primitive visceral human touch we worked so hard to drive away in our attempt to make “professional” looking art.

“I love the clunky quirky paintings fledgling artists paint before they get ‘good’. I look for and buy them. I find these soulful gems at flea markets, yard sales, even the dump. I add my own ideas to them — I renovate them,” said Dapkins.

He leaves the original artist’s signature but adds his own beside it as he gives these paintings new life.

“Some say I steal their souls. I don’t think I do. You be the judge,” he said.

Dapkins’ work has been shown in Key West, Rockland and Damariscotta; and his entire collection of large paintings was purchased in 2001 by Capital Z Partners of New York and St. Croix.

Centre Gallery is open when there are performances or other functions in the building or by appointment at any time; call 568-3147 or 948-7469 to set up a time to visit. To view performance schedules, visit unityme.org.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.