Sea History 069 - Spring 1994

Page 34

MARINE ART NEWS A visitor admires a shipmodel in the Seamen's Church Institute Gallery exhibit, "Workplace of the Sea. "

High Tide at Water Street Gallery Since opening its Water Street Gallery in 1992, the Seamen 's Church Institute in New York has progressively provided more and more of its outstanding marine art collection of shipmodels , paintings, artifacts an~ sea~ari ng me~o­ rabilia for display. It 1s a nch chromcle of ships and seafaring life, much of which was in storage for twelve years as the Institute awaited the opening of its award-winning new home in 1991. All glass and light and open space, the new building offers the perfect backdrop for focusing in on the artworks themselve ~. New in the first floor Gallery this year is an exhibit entitled "Workplace of the Sea," which features ship models, life-sized photographs and a multi-media presentation examining shipp!ng from the seafarer's unique vantage pomt. Visitors will find the 50 ship models in the exhibit a powerful draw. "Workplace" combines models from SCI' s own collection with twenty-three models from the extensive collection of New York architect Der Scutt. Also on loan are models from Central Gulf Lines, Energy Transportation Corporation, Mobil Shipping and Transportation, M. Rosenblatt& Son and North Star Galleries. They show the types of vessels that serve as the seafarer's workplace today, from the Nordkap, a Norwegian fishing vessel, to the Green Lake, a car carrier with a capacity of 4,726 units. But while you 're there, definitely make time_to go upstairs to the second floor and lmger. Seafarer's art is found in all comers of the new, nautically-inspired building. SCI director Rev. Peter Larom introduced "Workplace of the Sea" back in January with this admonition: "Seafaring is a forgotten profession. Crews of 20 or so people navigate ships that are longer than some of the country's tallest skyscrapers are high. The public receives the fruits of the seafarer's labor daily ... but returning from a voyage safely and on schedule is often the only indication of a job well done." Laro~ hopes _tha~ this exhibit will re-emphasize the d1gmty of the seafaring profession. We, in tum, hope something for Rev. Larom: that he will find the support he needs for his goal of restoring SCI's entire ship model collection by the spring of 1995. (SCI, 241 Water Street, New York NY 10038; 212 349-9090; Gallery open Mon. to Fri., 8:30am to 5:30pm, Sat., noon to 6:00pm) 32

South Street Opens Buttersworth Retrospective "Ship, Sea and Sky: The Marine Art of James Edward Buttersworth," opening at South Street Seaport on April 14, promises to be the year's la~g~st marine art retrospective. The exh1b1t, curated by art historian Richard Grass by, contains close to 60 works by Buttersworth ( 1817-1894) and will be on view through September 5 before going on_th_e road. The exhibit opens after this issue of Sea History goes to press, but, if the tastefully designed, 128-pageRizzoli color catalog of the exhibit can be our guide,this new look at the British-born painter will differ from the Buttersworth retrospective mounted by Mystic Seaport some 19 years ago. Whereas the Mystic show talked much about the artist' s father, Thomas Buttersworth, and his life before America, the South Street Seaport exhibit approaches Buttersworth as an Am~rican phenomenon, giving _serious atten~on to how his art embodied some pnmary themes of nineteenth-century America: the impetus for discovery, technological innovation, belief in progress and reverence for Nature. Grassby 's careful selection of paintings and his thoughtful essay have at least two intended effects. One, to demonstrate how easily Buttersworth tran-

scended the conventions of traditional ship portraiture and two, to add weight to the growing belief that his art could and should be appreciated alongside that of the Hudson River School, the painters of Cape Ann and the western expansion. On view wiJI be yachting scenes and images of ships "in extremis," such as "The Yacht Magic Defending America's Cup; 1870" and "The Clipper Eagle in a Storm, 1851," that share some of Buttersworth's best artistic qualities. "Ship, Sea and Sky" will leave South Street Seaport for exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem MA (Sep.-Dec. 1994) before traveling to the Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago IL (Jan.-Apr. 1995).

Art Notes If a visit to "Ship, Sea and Sky," South Street Seaport's Butters worth retrospective, prompts a partiality for ~i s _wor~, two Northeast galleries specialize m nineteenth-century art. Quester Gallery of Stonington, Connecticut, and Oliphant & Company on Madison Ave in New York have both made recent offerings of James E. Buttersworth paintings. Mystic Seaport opened a new exhibit on March 18 , entitled " Art of the Yacht," that explores yachts as subjects for works of art through paintings, prints, photographs and models. The opening was held in conjunction with the Seaport's annual "Yachting History Symposium," an event which this year focused on yachting in art and attracted a number of experts on the subject, including writer A. J. Pelu~o, collector Llewellyn Howland, ill, artist John Mecray and photographer Benjamin Mendlowicz. "Art of the Yacht" continues through September in the Seaport's Mallory Building. Mystic Gallery will be on the road this year providing regional opportunities for marine art enthusiasts to sample the gallery's worldJames E. Buttersworth's The

Clipper Eagle in a Storm, 185 1; oil on canvas , 20" x 30."


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