History, Art & Demonstrations By Paula Biles “The Water is Wide” was a month-long exhibit last fall at The Studio@620 in St. Petersburg, FL, celebrating all aspects of Florida boatbuilding. The Studio and the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez put on an impressive array of exhibits and programs. With the help of acting curator and yacht designer Charley Morgan, the event covered ALL aspects of the topic, plus it highlighted what a prominent role the west coast of Florida played in maritime history … and continues to play in present day boatbuilding.
ing, the burn and scrape method used to create dugout canoes, and building ship figureheads with paper mache. Numerous expert lecturers included Kendall Butler of the Bahamas talking about the influence of Bahamian design and construction on Florida early boatbuilding, Lee Pearson (first woman marine surveyor) speaking about boat standards, Melanie Ourbak covering barge living in France, two winning sailboat racers talking about their triumphs and tribulations, Jopie Helsen entertaining with stories of his boatbuilding, and Robert Stackhouse explaining the influExhibit ence of boat hull forms on his art. The physical exhibit came The discussions were also of in all sizes and shapes and great interest and educational was one major component value, often accompanied by the to document Florida’s heropportunity for questions from the itage of sailing, boatbuildaudience. Some were two-part sesing, and maritime comsions by Charley Morgan covering merce. It included nautical the history of Morgan Yachts, artwork, small boats hangaward-winning author Robert ing from the ceiling, Macomber giving a hilarious look numerous historical items at old Florida’s Gulf Coast boating and photographs, boat history, a representative from the sculpture, 19th century Tampa Bay Pilots Association boat models, half sailboat speaking on ships large and small models used by yacht in the bay area, and a talk about designers, memorabilia, an Model of The Jefferson Brown, a Key West Smack, was on the world’s most popular sailing ancient dugout log canoe, display at the Water is Wide exhibit. Photo courtesy class – the Optimist Pram. The and even a cross-section of The Studio@620. event closed with a a contemporary yacht. This roundtable discussion made for an extremely eclectic featuring Charley nautical display. Morgan and Ted Irwin, Both boaters and non-boaters two of the men who found the exhibit fascinating. A made Florida boatbuildsmall sampling of what viewers ing what it is today. saw included the model Charley Morgan used when designing the Those who want to learn Out Island 41, a painting by intermore about Florida’s national painter and sculptor maritime history of fishRobert Stackhouse, meticulously ing and boatbuilding will crafted electric boat models, a be interested in a visit to Catalina 40 cross section showing the newly opened Florida the yacht’s construction techniques, Maritime Museum at abstract mobiles resembling boat Cortez. It is a joint project ribs, plans for Clark Mills’ famous Fisherman in Cortez, FL, in 1920. Photo courtesy between Manatee County, Optimist Pram and more. F.I.S.H. (Florida Institute The Studio@620. for Saltwater Heritage), Programs and Cortez Village The other component of the “The Water is Wide” was the Historical Society. Their mission is to gather, preserve and extensive programming. Each week, several different interpret Florida’s maritime history. The Museum is open events were hosted. They helped give additional perspecseveral days each week. For more information call (941) tives to the maritime topic and included performances of 708-6120. music and theater, as well as classes, demonstrations, discussions, and lectures. For the month-long show, one Studio@620 programming is very eclectic and attracts a could be entertained and educated. There were even sevculturally diverse audience. It continues to add new and eral hands-on sessions designed for children. innovative programs. Its mission is to be an inviting, nurThe classes and demonstrations included wooden-boat turing, and welcoming space to the entire community. building and restoration, several types of model-boat buildwww.thestudioat620.org News & Views for Southern Sailors