Art and the Sea

Thomas Greenman Magnolia treeApril is traditionally a season associated with rebirth and beauty, a time of bird song and blooming flowers. Looking at the magnolia tree outside my office window, we are certainly well on our way to all of the joys of spring. Mother Nature is doing her job and so is Mystic Seaport. April will see three new exhibitions open, each one with a focus on the art and beauty of the sea. Opening these exhibits reminds us about the core mission to inspire and reminds us of the depth and strength of our collection. After all, isn’t that why we are here?

“Treasures from the Collections” in the R.J. Schaefer Exhibit Hall is a different take on the objects in our collections. Everything we have has a historic connection to our maritime heritage, but many have significant artistic value as well. We asked our curators to look at the collections with an eye for the aesthetic, and the result is a stunning show that captures the many ways the sea provides artistic inspiration.

On April 28, we will open another exhibit in the Stillman Building. “Restoring the Past, Charting the Future – An Artistic Discovery of America’s Whaling Legacy” is a co-production with the artists of the Dalvero Academy of Brooklyn, NY. This show demonstrates how Mystic Seaport inspires others. Two winters ago, 24 of the Dalvero artists traveled to Mystic Seaport to interpret the Charles W. Morgan. Each one had a unique vision and those visions are being assembled into a wonderful ground-breaking show. It is ground-breaking in that we are letting the artists themselves take the lead in designing the exhibit. It is an example of a new trend of “shared authority” in museum thinking.

And of course, the Maritime Gallery opens its “Modern Marine Masters” Exhibition and Sale. For 33 years, the Gallery has gathered the work from some of the finest artists currently working in the maritime field. From sculpture to scrimshaw, to watercolors and masterpieces in oil, it is an opportunity to see the best contemporary maritime art in one setting.

We hope these exciting exhibitions will appeal to the aesthete within each of us. In fact, we were inspired to take a new direction with the cover of the latest issue of the Mystic Seaport Magazine. The theme of this issue is education, and we approached Pamela Zagarenski, a local artist in Stonington, and asked her to create a work that reflects all of the remarkable initiatives we have underway. We think she captured it perfectly, and we hope that you will be inspired to look within and see all the great things Mystic Seaport is doing.

Steve White