The Water Business, Watercolors by Marc Castelli

July 19 – September 20, 2013
Downtown Campus
[120 N. Division St.]

Panel Discussion: “Land, Landscapes and Earthly Visions: A Scholarly and Artistic Interchange”, September 4, 7-9 pm, FH 111

Opening Reception: Friday, July 19, Downtown Campus & University Gallery at Fulton Hall

Closing Reception: Friday, September 20, Downtown Campus

Marc Castelli carried a fascination with water and boats, and a love of history and cultures that he obtained from his parents. He started painting workboats of the Chesapeake from the dockside views, now he spends countless hours each year out on the water with the watermen. Castelli not only spends an abundance of time on the water photographing, sketching, drawing and painting boats; but an essential part of his life for thirty years have been racing sailboats.

Castelli uses watercolors to display watermen, lobstermen, and their workboats. From the U.S. State Department’s Art in Embassies Program, Castelli’s work has been requested for ambassadors in Brazil, Qatar, and Madagascar. As well as exhibited his work in solo shows in Bombay, India, and Muscat. He articles and paintings have been featured multiple times in the Sailing Magazine, the prestigious Mystic Maritime Museum Gallery also recognized him as a Modern Marine Master for several years.

“There is a deep and profound magic in the light carried by the wind on the water. It insinuates itself in certain people that will respond to water no matter where they are.” – Marc Castelli 

Genie's Amazing Technicolor, Marc Castelli
Genie’s Amazing Technicolor, Marc Castelli

Castelli describes Genie’s Amazing Technicolor by, “The title is a multiple reference for things from Tangier island, Virginia. Genie Pruitt is from a rather large and extended family of long- time residents of the island. The Pruitts are actually some of the first non-Crockett families on the island. Genie is color blind which would account for the many startling color choices in the painting. The Amazing Technicolor Boat is a reference to a rock musical of the 70s titled Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Coat, which is in turn a reference to the very religious community of Tangier. The painting portrays Genie crab potting out on Tangier Sound. Crabbing is the main industry on the island. Everything from peeler crabs to hard crabs and sooks drive the work. Virginia‘s saltier waters help to explain the dominance of the females (sooks) in the industry.”

EarlyBird: Skinnersneck, Marc Castelli
EarlyBird: Skinnersneck, Marc Castelli

Castelli describes EarlyBird: Skinnersneck by, “Many people do not realize just how early a waterman’s day starts for nearly every day of the week. This painting is from a photo I shot while laying out on the dock at 2:30 in the morning. I had to do this in order to sufficiently stabilize the camera to get the shot in very low light. Getting such an image is important to me both as an artist and as a documentary image of the early hours that start out for what will be a usually long day on the water. I am fascinated by the shapes of the boats as they emerge into the dock light. It is lucky that the light at this dock is incandescent and not fluorescent. This mean that the boats are what would be a more natural color instead of the green light effect that results from fluorescent light. Working around that greenish light is hard to do.”

Up Tilghman Creek, Marc Castelli
Up Tilghman Creek, Marc Castelli

Castelli describes Up Tilghman Creek as, “The boat in this painting is actually a Louisiana shrimp boat. It was bought by the Spurry family for use in the seed and shell programs that once were the successful tactic of oyster cultivation in Maryland’s bay waters. The Spurry family represents all the aspects of the commercial fishing industry all rolled up in one family. They own work boats that catch the product, they buy the product, prepare it ship it, cook and sell it in their restaurant just outside of St. Michaels, Maryland. The decks of this boat were loaded with oyster shell for planting or with oyster seed on shell for planting. A large boat with an open spacious deck is necessary for such work. The boat at the time of the painting had just been brought up from the south and was being kept up a small and narrow creek near Claiborne, Maryland on the Eastern Shore. I was intrigued by the flags and bunting that is all over the boat. Up until the state of Maryland decided the status quo would not do anymore it was the seed and shell programs that kept most of Maryland’s oysters at a level that sustained the industry and provided for oysters to be used on the early sanctuaries and harvest reserve bars. Some blame the spread of disease on this program but the inevitability of the bay wide spread of diseases seems to render that argument specious. At one time the program was simple to explain but it is now a very complicated issue. Suffice it to say that Maryland no longer uses the programs and Virginia now employs the very same techniques. Virginia’s public oyster fishery is thriving while Maryland’s is languishing in a morass of ill –conceived science driven projects that have marginalized the industry and its economic benefits.”

Be sure to check out This Land,  Two part Exhibit at University Gallery at Fulton Hall & Downtown Campus.

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