In the Art and Spirit of Rowing

David Bareford’s “Victory! Yale Heavyweights Win the Race 150th Yale – Harvard Regatta, June 7, 2015” is on exhibit and sale at The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport. Courtesy of the Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport.

3 August 2017

HTBS editor Göran R Buckhorn, decked out in his Swedish rowing club’s boating jacket and fancy HTBS tie, and Mrs B. were invited to the opening of the exhibition and sale “The Art of Rowing” at The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport. Here is his report from the evening.

More than 100 people had gathered for the opening reception of “The Art of Rowing” exhibition and sale at The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport on last Saturday evening. Among the guests were gallery patrons, museum staff and volunteers and local and regional rowers. A number of the participating artists, including David Bareford who has three paintings in the show, joined in the festive gathering. While enjoying drinks and hors d’œuvre, the guests were mingling and talking about paintings and rowing, and admiring the wide range of art and artists represented in the show.

Photo: Ingrid Buckhorn.

‘Given the large number of rowing devotees in New England, it was a natural decision to have a show at the Maritime Gallery devoted to rowing,’ said Monique Foster, director of the Maritime Gallery, in a statement. ‘In addition to exceptional art depicting competition, the show offers artwork related to all types of rowing and we are excited to feature a broad range of media, artists and subject matters.’

This exhibition presents almost every aspect of oarsmanship. Out of the 40 works in the show, 21 are paintings depicting rowing as a sport, while others are showing people plying oars at work or play: recreational rowing, including fishing, lifeboat rowing, propelling gondolas in Venice and at war, the latter including “Greek Triremes Destroy Persians at Salamis 480 BC”, a watercolour at $800 by artist Yoko Gaydos.

‘I thoroughly appreciate both the quality and the specific subject matter of this exhibition,’ said Edward Monahan, who attended the show. ‘As a person who likes all types of rowing, I enjoy the mix of subjects, from competitive to recreational sliding-seat rowing, along with the paintings of other oared craft, from traditional pulling boats to gondolas. ‘

Monahan, who is the author of Rowing Retrospectives: A Personal View of New England Masters Sculling (2004), continued: ‘The artists have definitely caught the ambiance of the various rowing venues they depict. I certainly don’t need to read the captions, as these paintings transport me back to occasions spent rowing in regattas on the Charles or the Schuykill, or sculling through the Montlake Cut in Seattle.’

Monahan, a master rower who is sculling daily, is soon to reach his 15,000-mile rowing milestone. Twenty-six years ago, he founded the Coastweeks Regatta, which is held at Mystic Seaport.

On the left is Edward Monahan talking to a rower from Noank RC. The lady in red, with a cap, is Barbara Lewis, an adaptive rower and member of Noank RC. Ms Lewis has for several years competed in the museum’s Coastweeks annual regatta in September. Photo: Ingrid Buckhorn.

As Monahan mentioned, several of the paintings in the show take the onlookers around the world, to waterways and rivers like the Charles, Schuylkill, both the Thameses (in England and Connecticut), Montlake Cut and Ganges. The latter mentioned river is depicted in Lisa Egeli’s “Namaste”. Egeli’s painting of a man rowing on the Ganges and Karen Ponelli’s “Floating Market Thailand” are the artworks with motifs furthest away from the geographic place of the show in Mystic.

For “The Art of Rowing” the gallery had borrowed some rowing artefacts from the museum’s collection and from the National Rowing Foundation. Photo: Ingrid Buckhorn.
Hanging below the old oar is Lisa Egeli’s “Namaste”. Photo: Ingrid Buckhorn.
This nearly 7-foot bow section is from a training wherry build by George Pocock. The boat’s Hawaiian-inspired name was “Oahu”, which is the name of the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Photo: Ingrid Buckhorn.

The prices range for the paintings in “The Art of Rowing” starting with Ponelli’s oil painting at a modest $450 up to David Bareford’s “Victory! Yale Heavyweights Win the Race 150th Yale – Harvard Regatta, June 7, 2015”, a large oil painting measuring 24 x 48 for $24,000. Bareford’s work is my favourite painting at the exhibit, although my overall favourite art piece is Robert Lagasse’s beautiful wood carving “Sculling”, which measures 13 x 5 x 20 and is the only sculpture among the artworks on display. The price tag for “Sculling” reads at $3,500.

On the lower left in this picture is Robert Lagasse’s beautiful wood sculpture of a sculler in a single scull, (size 20 x 13 x 5). Photo: Ingrid Buckhorn.

Another attendee at “The Art of Rowing” was Chris Freeman, director of Development at Mystic Seaport. He said about the show: ‘Having been the host site for the National Rowing Foundation’s Rowing Hall of Fame for many years, it seems very fitting that we continue to celebrate the sport of rowing with this exhibition and sale in the museum’s art gallery. Rowing boats of every sort have been a part of Maritime America since our earliest days.’

Freeman also remarked: ‘As the host site for the annual CoastWeeks Regatta and the home base for the Stonington High School crews, we continue to work to support the sport as well as celebrate the history of American rowing.’ He added: ‘The Friends of Stonington Crew are in the preliminary phases of their campaign to construct a boat house on the site of the Mystic River Boathouse Park, which is next to Mystic Seaport. It is our hope that this exhibition and sale of rowing-themed art will help to interest more people here in New London County in Connecticut and further afield in the sport of rowing and help to galvanize support for this community project.’

One of the guests at “The Art of Rowing” was particularly interested in the Mystic River Boathouse Park, Braden ‘Brad’ Negaard of Florida, who was in the Mystic area to visit family together with his wife, Annette. The Negaards once rowed for Jacksonville University (JU), Florida, and then became involved in the rowing programme there. They designed and built the rowing center at JU through Brad’s company, GBN Construction. The center opened some years ago. The sport of rowing runs in the Negaard family. Annette and Brad’s sons, Stefan and Erich, rowed at JU, as did Brad’s sister, Kristen Negaard O’Brien, who is now a coach for Noank Rowing Club, located downriver to Mystic, and at Fitch High School in Groton, Connecticut. Oddly, Kristen and Brad’s father, Robert ‘Bob’ Negaard, had never rowed until he decided to take up the oar at age 50. He started to row because his children were active in the sport. In 1983, Bob Negaard reached international fame with his invention of the boomerang-shaped wing-rigger. He passed away in November 2012.

Later on, Brad Negaard could be seen chatting with Mike O’Neil, coach for Stonington High School crews, who is one of the persons behind the Mystic River Boathouse Park.

Photo: Ingrid Buckhorn.

Three of the paintings at the show were inspired by literary works: Loretta Krupinski’s “Messing About in Boats” (oil, 16 x 20; $5,500) from Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows; Paul Garnett’s “Billy Budd – Goodbye to You Too, Old Rights of Man” (oil, 16 x 20; $3,500) from Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor; and Austin A. Dwyer’s “The Boys of ‘36” (oil, 20 x 30; $4,400) from Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat. (Dwyer’s painting found a buyer the day after the reception.)

‘We are pleased to have such a large and enthusiastic turn-out for this new show. It is wonderful to see so many new faces at the gallery, many of whom are members of various local rowing clubs as well as those from across New England,’ said Monique Foster. ‘Also in attendance are a number of students who presently row for their high school or college teams.’

Foster concluded: ‘We are delighted and excited to see such beautiful quality and variation in what our artists’ chose to depict in this show, from Venetian gondolas to an oarsman on the Ganges River.

The article writer (in the middle of the picture) is seen talking to one of the museum’s volunteers, Martin Bobenski, who, among other places around the institution, volunteered at the National Rowing Foundation’s Rowing Hall of Fame, which was located at Mystic Seaport between 2008 and 2014. Photo: Ingrid Buckhorn.

For the reception of “The Art of Rowing”, I had decided to get in the ‘aquatic mood’ and deck myself out in my Swedish rowing club’s boating jacket and also ‘air out’ my HTBS tie. To be honest I did not think much of it, and while the rowers attending the evening’s event did not seem to care that much either – after all, I was only another oarsman appearing at the show wearing a rowing blazer – the non-rowers present could not help gawking at yours truly and pointing out to me that I really stood out in the crowd. They probably meant it in a nice and friendly way, but that would never happen at Henley Royal.

This show is not to be missed. It will close on 17 September, which is the same day as the museum’s annual rowing event, Coastweeks Regatta. If you will not be able to make it to the show, all the artworks can be found here.

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