The ocean blue

‘Sketched at Sea’ and ‘Yachting Photography’ at PEM, ‘Personal Assistance’ in P’town
By RANDI HOPKINS  |  August 1, 2006


William Farrington, Sketchbook detail circa 1812 painted aboard the HMS Clio
Lots of folks take their sketchpads or easels to the shore, but it’s a different thing to try to capture the visual experience of the ocean while bobbing in the midst of it, or after sailing to a port halfway around the world. The Peabody Essex Museum examines the seafaring vision in “Sketched at Sea,” which opens August 12, and “The Yachting Photography of Willard B. Jackson,” already on view. “Sketched at Sea” presents more than 60 works from the permanent collection created by men and women who found themselves at sea as travelers, mariners, or professional artists, from the mid 18th to the early 20th century. The notebooks of artists like 19th-century American landscape painter William Bradford and late-19th-century Boston marine painter Marshall Johnson add to our understanding of their finished works; the sketchbook pencil drawings by traveler Marina Sargent of her 1879 journey to Indonesia, with their humor and insight, are visual souvenirs of an adventure. Then there are the detailed records of coastlines and vessels encountered that mariners have created. Late-19th-century French naval cadet Gaston Liebert, for one, toured the world recording key shoreline landmarks and also any British warship he encountered.

Zipping around in his sleek white powerboat, Alison , Willard B. Jackson was a familiar sight in the waters off Marblehead during the heyday of competitive yachting and leisure boating in America, from 1898 to 1937. He was also an accomplished photographer, and of course he was knowledgeable about the boats he shot. PEM’s “The Yachting Photography of Willard B. Jackson” has more than 50 of his works, most of them created from large-format glass-plate negatives. The resultant detailed images convey the many dimensions of yachting, from the graceful boat designs to the sheer joy of cutting through the water.

If you’re a bit more of a landlubber, content to enjoy the salt air while strolling through bustling Provincetown, drop by DNA Gallery, which has a history of exhibitions that reach beyond the beach. Up through August 10, “Personal Assistance” looks at the relationship between four renowned artists and their studio assistants: Kiki Smith and Zachary Wollard, Donald Baechler and Brian Belott, Jane Freilicher and Ilse Murdock, and Francesco Clemente and Frank Santoro. And it shows that the creative energy generated between these pairs runs in both directions.

 “Sketched at Sea” and “The Yachting Photography of Willard B. Jackson” at Peabody Essex Museum, East India Square, Salem | August 12–January 6, 2008 (“Sketched”); through January 21, 2007 (Jackson) | 866.745.1876 | “Personal Assistance” at DNA Gallery, 288 Bradford St, Provincetown | through August 10 | 508.487.7700

On the Web
Peabody Essex Museum: www.pem.org
DNA Gallery: www.dnagallery.com

Related: Maritime after time, Slideshow: The Maya And The Mythic Sea at Peabody Essex Museum, Eastward ho!, More more >
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Peabody Essex Museum, William Bradford, Web Peabody Essex Museum,  More more >
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