By Gail McCarthy
---- — An artist a half a world away has painted a number of Cape Ann’s historic sailing vessels; his works are the subject of a new show at State of the Art Gallery on Rocky Neck.
Marine painter Peter “Spike” Wademan was introduced to the history in this part of the world, in part, through his Annisquam friend, David Teele, who also resides in New Zealand, not far from where the British-born artist now lives. In fact, Wademan’s studio is in Teele’s barn, which was a New Zealand sheep-shearing shed.
The show illustrates how the artist combines his love for ships with his interest in Cape Ann’s maritime history. Wademan, an award-winning illustrator and artist, last year donated a portrait of the American battleship, the USS Missouri, for a benefit raffle for Gloucester’s World War II Memorial. In 2009, one of his painting was selected for the International Marine Art Exhibition at Mystic Seaport Museum. Last year, he was commissioned to paint the epic Battle of Trafalgar.
During a video conference at the show’s opening, Rockport’s Erik Ronnberg, a foremost ship model artist, had the opportunity to speak with the artist and view his work.
“What I saw was some pretty wonderful art. He has really captured the spirit of the late 19th and early 20th century Gloucester and its fisheries. There were a couple of interesting smaller paintings depicting dory fishing that were very atmospheric and quite wonderful,” said Ronnberg, whose models can be viewed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., Mystic Seaport Museum, Plimoth Plantation, New Bedford Whaling Museum, and Hart Nautical Museum at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Ronnberg said Wademan’s painting “The Photographer: Martha Harvey and her Camera on the Wharf,” in which Harvey is aiming her camera at the fishing fleet in port, caught his attention.
“It’s obvious he explored her work as a photographer and made good use of it in his own way. It gave me a good sense of his appreciation of the land-based part of the fishery and the importance of community in the fishing port,” said Ronnberg.
Roger Armstrong of State of the Art Gallery said he was stunned by both the accuracy and beauty of the ship portraits when he first saw them a few years back. Some of the schooners Wademan painted that are in this show are the Stiletto, Ardelle, Grace L. Fears, Esperanto, The Vesta, L.A. Dunton, Lady Ann and The Puritan.
The show runs through Dec. 16. The gallery is located at 4 Wonson St. on Rocky Neck in Gloucester. Hours are Thursday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.stateoftheartgalleryandsculpturegarden.com.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3445, or firstname.lastname@example.org.