Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Of Land and Sea: Painting the Bold Coast exhibit at Bayview Gallery, Camden

Bayview Gallery presents Of Land and Sea: Painting the Bold Coast - an exhibit of marine paintings in our Camden gallery, featuring the works of William R. Beebe, Vern Broe, Robert Spring and other gallery artists.

Marine artist William Beebe has been painting the coast for over 16 years, and he now dedicates himself to rendering the historical wooden schooners of the 19th and 20th centuries. An admirer of Impressionist Claude Monet and Frank W. Benson for their brushwork, palette and interplay of light, Beebe creatively uses layers of various colors to achieve depth in his images. A black hull may have Naples Yellow, Cobalt Blue, or Umber added to create light and dark or warm and cold areas. His crisp lines and detailed renderings bring vitality to his maritime work along with a traditional realism honoring the excitement and joy of the nautical journey. His oils capture movement and place, celebrating the timeless grandeur of these majestic sailing vessels.

Vern Broe has painted the coast from several New England locations - Gloucester, Marblehead, and of course Maine. Versatile marine painter and former draftsman, Broe explores the contrasting qualities of light and dark and their various tones in his paintings. Water takes on an illusionary sense due to his skillful, delicate use of multiple washes of acrylic paint. Well-studied, keen lines define his vessels, giving them a subdued character against a receding, dream-like backdrop. He pays homage to the sailing and working crafts that grace the coastline.

Maine resident Robert Spring is well versed in portraying images in both oil and watercolors. Influenced by J.M.W. Turner, his oils are luminous and impressive, exhibiting an inventive palette that plays up the frequently subtle nature of his subject matter. Texture and color create a rhythmic energy, bringing new life to his seascapes. A sculptor as well, Robert's use of thick impasto suggests a tangible quality with his oils, texture and movement working in unison. His watercolors evoke a feeling of mystery, leaving the viewer to draw his own conclusions as to the outcome of the painting. A heightened sense of drama with no resolution contrasts with a momentary stillness and peace.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Maritime Museum of Tasmania Launches New Layout and Exhibitions

Maritime Museum of Tasmania Launches Exciting New Layout and Exhibitions

The Maritime Museum of Tasmania launched its new exhibits and layout, that not only allow visitors to explore more of the collection but enables the Museum to host travelling exhibitions.

It is the first time in nearly ten years that the Museum has undergone major display changes and the result is an all round enhanced visitor experience.

President of the Maritime Museum of Tasmania, Colin Denny, said it's tremendous to see more of the collection on display.

"The new layout and renovations maximises the display space for our own collection while maintaining the integrity of the Museum," Mr Denny said.

"However, in the process we also wanted to create a separate gallery to bring national travelling exhibitions to the State for the first time," he said.

The changed layout features some significant new displays that Curator, Rona Hollingsworth, said trace the State's maritime history.

"This exhibition has a number of important new acquisitions, including the three metre long Tasmanian Aboriginal bark canoe built by members of the local aboriginal community," Ms Hollingsworth said.

"The canoe is the first exhibit visitors see when they enter the museum. It sets the scene for an interpretation of the State's maritime history," she said.

Other features of the new exhibition include a shipwreck display based around the wreckage of the 1847 barque Petrel which was uncovered on Hope Beach, South Arm, in 2006.

Also, the wheelhouse from the 1889 trans-Derwent ferry steamer Silver Crown has been restored by volunteers and installed to provide a unique interactive opportunity for visitors.

The Wooden Boat Photographic Exhibition in the new temporary gallery highlights Tasmania's wooden boat heritage and was drawn from the Museum's own extensive photographic collection.

The Director of the Australian National Maritime Museum Mary-Louise Williams launched the new layout.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Religious and political turmoil in the 1500s split the Low Countries into two nations with differing social values and artistic tastes. Flanders remained Catholic and royalist; Flemish artists such as Rubens and Van Dyck glorified the Church and monarchy with grandiose themes, lively compositions, and vivid colors. The United Netherlands, however, became a republic populated mainly by Calvinists. Dutch Protestants like Rembrandt conveyed morals and religious messages through concealed symbolism in landscapes, still lifes, and scenes of daily life.

In 1568, the northernmost provinces of the Low Countries broke away from Spanish control, eventually to become the Dutch Republic, a center of Protestantism. In the southern provinces, which remained under the rule of Spanish regents, the Catholic church and the court continued to be the most important patrons of the arts. Perhaps most characteristic of late sixteenth-century Flemish court art is the dignified, formal portraiture of Antonis Mor.

Mor's reputation was eclipsed in the seventeenth century by that of Anthony van Dyck, who eventually became court painter to Charles I of England. The most sought-after Flemish painter of the seventeenth century was Van Dyck's teacher, the scholar, linguist, and diplomat Peter Paul Rubens, who was besieged with commissions from the nobility and religious orders of Europe for portraits, altarpieces, mythological scenes, and allegories. His stirring works were admired for qualities ranging from theatricality to emotional tenderness.

The emergence of the Dutch school of painting in the early seventeenth century is one of the most remarkable phenomena in the history of the visual arts. The Dutch Republic, a small country that had only become a political entity in 1579 and was still suffering from the effects of a long and arduous war with Spain, would hardly seem to have had the resources to nourish and sustain its artistic traditions. Nonetheless, in every respect, the Dutch seem to have drawn strength from adversity; they profited in terms of trade, political awareness, religious tolerance, wealth, and above all, self-esteem. They were proud of their achievements and were determined to provide for themselves a broad and lasting foundation that would define their unique social and cultural heritage.

The political and religious attitudes of the period are not readily apparent in the work of Dutch artists. The still lifes, portraits, landscapes, seascapes, and genre scenes that characterize this school of painting are surprisingly lacking in information on the major events of the day. Nevertheless, the philosophical bases from which artists worked are clearly the same as those governing decisions in contemporary political, military, and religious activities. This ideology was essentially threefold: that God's work is evident in the world itself; that, although things in this world are mortal and transitory, no facet of God's creation is too insubstantial to be noticed, valued, or represented; and that the Dutch, like the ancient Israelites, were a chosen people, favored and blessed by God's protection.

Underlying the essential realism of Dutch art, thus, is an allegorical view of nature that provided a means for conveying various messages to contemporary viewers. The Dutch, with their ingrained Calvinist beliefs, were a moralizing people. While they thoroughly enjoyed the sensual pleasures of life, they were aware of the consequences of wrong behavior. Paintings, even those representing everyday objects and events, often provide reminders about the brevity of life and the need for moderation and temperance in one's conduct. Subjects drawn from the Bible, mythology, and ancient history, likewise, were often chosen for their moralizing messages or for establishing parallels between the Dutch experience and great historical, literary, and political events of the past.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Much art of the American colonial period consisted of portraits, as settlers sought to establish their identities in a new world. After the new nation achieved its independence, landscapes and scenes of native flora, fauna, and folk customs began to express its unique qualities and illustrate its untapped resources.

Portraiture formed the mainstay of subject matter in colonial and federal American art, as immigrants to the New World attempted to bring a semblance of Old World civilization to their wild or, at best, provincial surroundings. When Benjamin West arrived in Rome in 1760, he was the first American artist to study in Europe. Upon seeing the Vatican's famous classical statue, the Apollo Belvedere, West exclaimed, "My God! How like it is to a young Mohawk warrior!" His astute comparison between a "noble savage" and the "glory that was Greece" won hearty applause from the connoisseurs. West soon emerged as Europe's foremost history painter, dropping the allegorical trappings from classical antiquity that had been the norm and basing his work on historical research.

John Singleton Copley followed West's example in depicting past and present occurrences with believable accessories and settings. Gilbert Stuart, who studied with West in London, revitalized the concept of "Grand Manner" portraiture; his Skater is invigorated with a sense of immediacy and activity.

When the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, artists sought to create a distinctive environment for the ideals of liberty. The eighteenth century's classicizing concepts evolved seamlessly into the nineteenth century's neoclassical style of idealized anatomy, symmetrical composition, and pure colors. The large Peale family, several members of which were artists, bridges this transition toward a more scientific naturalism.

Romanticism, partly engendered by reactions to the American and French revolutions, sought to release the emotions in dynamic design, dramatic spotlighting, and virtuoso displays of palpable paint textures. Such emotional elements mark the later paintings of Benjamin West. Two of West's later pupils, Thomas Sully and John Trumbull, helped to introduce romanticism to the United States.

When the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 instantly doubled the nation's area, artists such as John James Audubon and George Catlin began to investigate the native people, flora, and fauna. These academically educated artists were outnumbered by unschooled artist-craftsmen, such as Edward Hicks, who painted for their own pleasure or on commission from rural patrons. After the War of 1812, landscape painting came to prominence, symbolizing America's unique natural resources and vast territory. And, with the introduction of photography to the United States in 1839, the cameraman soon usurped much of the clientele of the portrait painter.

As nineteenth-century Americans sought an appropriate vehicle to express their national zeal, artists turned to images of the land. Thomas Cole, the leader of the Hudson River School, portrayed a once-pristine environment threatened by the onslaught of civilization. Spurred on by his romantic idealism, some of Cole's followers created pastoral, idyllic views, while others carefully painted what they saw. During the 1850s, an intimate approach to landscape evolved in New England. The twilight marine paintings of Fitz Hugh Lane are paradigms of this elegiac style, which some scholars have termed "luminism." Artists seeking nature's more awesome aspects often traveled far afield: Frederic Church journeyed from the Arctic to below the equator, while other peripatetic painters explored the far western United States, giving tangible expression to America's dream of Manifest Destiny.

Lighthearted genre paintings depicting everyday life also gained popularity around mid-century. However, the mood of the nation quickly darkened following the Civil War. Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer expressed a starkly realistic world view. Their mature art demonstrates an uncompromising commitment to truth.

As Americans traveled abroad in increasing numbers toward the century's end, a newfound cosmopolitanism emerged. Avant-garde movements such as impressionism were embraced by American painters who found the style's look, if not its underlying theory, consistent with their artistic aims. Familiarity with traditional European art also may have inspired a renewed interest in still-life painting and aristocratic portraiture; the popularity of such paeans to wealth and acquisition reflects the prevailing spirit of materialism.

Optimistic immigrants flocked to America, only to confront the sobering reality of urban blight and poverty. Robert Henri, an influential artist and teacher, urged his followers to address these pressing issues. Their ostensibly crude subject matter offended critics, who dubbed the New York group the Ash Can School.

As violence, anxiety, and alienation became dominant themes in the twentieth century, artists expressed dissatisfaction with the dehumanizing aspects of modern life. Whether phrased in the representational idiom of George Bellows and Edward Hopper, or in the language of pure abstraction, these disturbing works seem a far cry from the idyllic aspirations of early nineteenth-century Americans, who—for a brief time—truly believed their country held the promise of paradise.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Preserving the Maritime Past

One of the Evergreen Maritime Museum's goals is to teach visitors about the importance of Taiwan's nautical history and how it relates to that of mainland China and the rest of the world.

In some of the most moving scenes of Cape No.7, the domestically made movie that dominated local box offices in 2008, a Japanese man departs aboard an ocean liner, never to see his Taiwanese girlfriend again. Set at the end of World War II, the scenes offer a reminder of an era when ships provided Taiwan's main connection to the rest of the world. The lyrics of many of the popular songs of the time also reflect the emotion of this scene from the movie, expressing the sentiments of women lingering at piers, longing to see husbands or boyfriends who have yet to return from a voyage at sea.

Visitors to the Evergreen Maritime Museum (EMM) in Taipei are able to recapture some of this rich nautical history as they learn about Taiwan's--and the world's--long, intimate connection with the sea. Through its displays and exhibitions, the museum illustrates how Taiwan's history is intertwined with the ocean and educates visitors about the important role that today's shipping industry plays in Taiwan's export-oriented economy.

Located in downtown Taipei, the museum is housed in the building that served as the former headquarters of the Kuomintang--the present ruling party. The building was purchased by the Evergreen Maritime Museum Cultural and Educational Foundation in 2006. Surrounded as it is by important offices of the central government and located in Taiwan's administrative center, the museum offers visitors a respite from the area's prevailing ambience of political solemnity.

The exterior of the museum is unremarkable and as there is no clear sign indicating its presence, some visitors are even forced to ask traffic police for directions. However, once they venture inside, visitors are enveloped in an atmosphere more of the sea than of the land, as the museum's interior is decorated with many of the features found on ships. There are round portholes for windows, three levels of white painted "decks," buoys and masts festooned with the flags of seafaring nations from around the world.

With a floor area of 9,000 square meters, the EMM is the largest maritime museum in Taiwan. Its primary holdings consist of marine artifacts, models and maps, most of which were collected by Chang Yung-fa, the chairman and founder of the Evergreen Group, Taiwan's largest transportation conglomerate. Chang worked his way up through the ranks of local shipping companies to become a captain before going on to found Evergreen in 1968. In order to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Evergreen Group, the museum opened its doors in 2008, with Chang donating more than 4,000 items to its collections.