Past Show

Camden Falls Gallery’s summer season is culminating with a show that features images of watercraft ranging from fishing boats, dinghies, and dories, to frigates, schooners, and sloops. This exhibition showcases marine paintings by Todd Bonita, Lee Boynton, Paul Garnett, Loretta Krupinski, Kirk McBride, and Leonard Mizerek, along with several other gallery artists. Having lived and worked in coastal areas for much of their lives, these accomplished painters draw inspiration from the strength and beauty of traditional watercraft. With decades of painting experience and an impressive array of artistic accomplishments, each has a unique way of capturing the character of seafaring vessels both large and small.

Todd Bonita earned a BFA at The Art Institute in Boston and studied classical painting and drawing at The Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. His eclectic career has spanned stints as a graphic designer for commercial gaming machines, a commissioned artist creating large scale murals, and an assistant to the world champion chain-saw sculptor, Barre Pinske. A highly respected illustrator, Bonita has also worked for many large publishing houses including McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin. His modest dories and tenders are imbued with a deep sense of psychological mystery. The softness of light on these solitary vessels, resting quietly at their moorings or tethered securely to abandoned docks, seems to take the viewer outside the normal strictures of time to a more mystical state. Having grown up in the Boston area, Bonita writes, “I paint what is familiar to my background… introspective memories of my childhood. They’re contemplative, reflective of where I grew up. I guess I’m digging into my soul.”

Plein air painter Lee Boynton, who hails from Annapolis, Maryland, also spent much of his childhood and youth on the water, racing small boats on Long Island Sound or cruising along the coast of New England with his family. While in college, he spent his summers on Capitol Island in Maine, sketching and painting the lobster-men and boat builders in the Boothbay Harbor region. He loved the rough texture and timeless beauty of their hands-on way of life. He felt the simple, classic lines of the boats he saw in the harbor and working the rocky shores reflected the integrity and strength of character of the men within this tight-knit fishing community. He saw the boats, the men, and the sea as an intricate and endlessly fascinating tapestry. Lee received his BFA from Syracuse University in 1976 and continued his studies at the Art Students League in NYC and the Cape School of Art in Provincetown, MA. His passion for classic boats and traditional fishing eventually led to a niche for interpretive history painting. After settling in Annapolis in 1980, he spent 15 years chronicling the lives and work of the Chesapeake Bay Watermen through a substantial body of work. In 1995, Lee was commissioned to paint three historic murals for the city council chambers in Annapolis to commemorate the city’s tricentennial as the state capital. This project opened doors for other historic commissions in the Baltimore, Washington, and Annapolis area, the most recent of which was a painting of George Washington’s distillery for Mount Vernon.

Much like Bonita and Boynton, renowned marine artist Paul Garnett spent a great deal of his childhood on the waterfront. Growing up in the Boston area, he befriended the crew of the frigate Constitution and recorded his experiences in sketchbooks reflecting his nautical interests. His later work as a shipwright on the historic replica of the HMS Bounty helped him develop an intimate knowledge of vintage naval structure and engineering that has informed and influenced his entire body of work. A self-taught artist, Garnett has completed commissions for retired Coast Guard officers and has had work at The Merchant Marine Academy in King’s Point, NY. His illustrations also grace the covers of William H. White’s historical naval trilogy about the War of 1812. Permanent collections of Garnett’s work reside in The Constitution Museum in Charlestown, Massachusetts, and The Marine Museum in Fall River. Garnett is also a Fellow in the American Society of Marine Artists and a longstanding member of the National Maritime Historical Society and the International Society of Marine Painters.

A prolific author and illustrator, Maine artist Loretta Krupinski created over 40 historic marine paintings for her book, Looking Astern: An Artist’s View of Maine’s Historic Working Waterfronts. “I want to honor the working waterfront and the people who left a legacy,” she wrote. “The coastal settlement is where it all began.” Capturing a bygone era of working sailcraft and hardscrabble New England coastal life, her images chronicle the rich maritime history of mid-coast Maine at the turn of the 20th century. Using a variety of archival photographs as reference material, Krupinski painstakingly applies stippled glazes of color to create vibrant full-color compositions that re-create the style and manner of the time period. With subtle tonal and color shifts she conveys precisely detailed surfaces, both natural and man-made. In addition to her historical work, Krupinski has also authored and illustrated over two dozen children’s books. She is a Fine Arts graduate of Syracuse University, and her work has been exhibited in numerous museums and historic exhibitions. She is also a six-time award winner in the International Marine Artists Exhibition, sponsored by the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut.

Another highly accomplished and nationally renowned marine painter whose work will be featured in this exhibition is New York City artist Leonard Mizerek. Known for his colorful, luminous seascapes and expressive brushwork, he is an officer and Fellow of the American Society of Marine Artists, as well as a Signature Artist Member of the New England Watercolor Society and the International Society of Marine Painters. He graduated with a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and studied at the New York Art Students League under nationally known artist, Nelson Shanks. He also studied at the National Academy of Design under internationally known artist, Raymond Kinstler. His work has been featured in numerous publications and many prestigious exhibitions nationwide, including the Forbes Museum in New York, the San Diego Maritime Museum, and The Mystic Seaport Museum. Mizerek was featured on the August 2001 cover of American Artist magazine, and he was invited as one of 23 nationally recognized contemporary marine artists to exhibit in a special three-museum exhibition, which toured New England to the Newport Art Museum, the Maine Maritime Museum, and Connecticut River Museum.

Rounding out our roster of featured artists is Maryland plein air painter Kirk McBride, whose sensitively rendered images of classic schooners under sail and in harbor reveal a passion for sailing and painting alike. An award-winning artist who has been painting for over 30 years, Kirk is a “signature” member of the Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association and has participated in numerous plein air painting invitationals nationwide. He often uses his small plein air paintings, along with sketches and photographs, as studies for his larger studio pieces. Kirk travels often and paints a variety of subjects, including a series of classic local schooners that were created especially for Camden Falls Gallery. About his work, he says, “Everything has a moment when light and shadow create something breathtaking to view” – and he is constantly looking for those moments to inspire his oil paintings.

“For the Love of Boats” will be on view at Camden Falls Gallery from August 23 through September 18. Please come and enjoy this truly glorious body of marine art created by these talented artists. Their renderings capture the unique beauty of watercraft anchored in harbor, under sail, and up on the hard. Located on the Public Landing in downtown Camden, the gallery is open daily from 11:00am to 7pm. For more information, call 207-470-7027 or email camdenfallsgallery@gmail.com.