Where do you get your inspiration?

“To inspire” is a key element of the Mystic Seaport Mission Statement. On the one hand, that element of our mission is easy to fulfill since for me there is inspiration all around us here on the grounds of Mystic Seaport. It’s palpable. On the other, we rarely know just how “inspired” a visitor has become unless we see their art, their poem, their photograph, or their prose. On occasion, a hand-written letter, or now an email, will come across my desk in which the author expresses gratitude for finding inspiration at Mystic Seaport.

Early summer means the return of our plein air painters when Mystic Seaport graciously serves as their canvas. After a week of painting (June 14-18), the finished art was hung for the annual summer Plein Air Painters of the Maritime Gallery show through September 18, 2011. What a wonderful collection of Seaport images (and others) from every conceivable point of view and at all times of day. It is truly a must-see.

My personal favorite is “Oyster Co.” by Ronald Tinney. I particularly like the ability to look through the Thomas Oyster Co. building to the town of Mystic in the distance. It’s that view down river, among many of the stunning views here, that not only serves as inspiration for Ronald, but also for many of us. I admire an artist’s ability to capture the ethos of the scene and to share it with us in this medium. This week, Gallery Director Jeanne Potter, is teaching a painting course so that others may have the chance to do just that and to realize their artistic talent. No such luck for me, I’m afraid.

But such is Mystic Seaport … an abundance of inspiration. These grounds and the surrounding areas are gifts to the visitor, especially those who are open to inspiration. I sometimes see visitors who seem obliged to see things here, going from exhibit to exhibit checking them off a list, without truly seeing the essence of the object or sensing the power of the moment. Here inspiration can be anything to the open-hearted from the subtle curves of a Herreshoff bow to the often-missed view between two buildings that frames a quiet Seaport spot.

No doubt I’m preaching to the choir if you are reading this, but be sure not to miss the plein air show in the Gallery! Perhaps one will make it to your wall at home.