Spring Marlborough Special Exhibit • “Ocean View!”
Images from top left to lower right: Joanne DeLomba, Life’s a Beach digital collage print • Peter Handler, Arctic Ice Reliquary sculpture detail • Sheilagh Flynn, Earth Resonance wall mosaic • Meghan Surette, Wave Charcuterie Board • Ruth Odile, The Sky Was Glowing That Morning oil painting • Michelle Provencal, Mussel Shells needle-felted wool, sequins • Blair LaBella, Beach Stone pin/pendant • David Stern, Capri, Italy photograph on ceramic tile • Richard Roney-Dougal, On the Reef silver, copper, burl wood, oil paint • Dave Martsolf, Moby Dick oil painting
Who doesn’t crave an ocean view?
In the town where I was born
Lived a man who sailed to sea
And he told us of his life
In the land of submarines
So we sailed up to the sun
‘Til we found the sea of green
And we lived beneath the waves
In our yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine!
– The Beatles
More than a third of the entire world population lives within only 60 miles of an oceanic coast. Sure, there are reasons for that: almost every city was built on land accessible to a waterway for trade. But there’s something greater about the human pull to the sea, spurring us to travel to the thin line between land and water whenever we get the chance. The ocean calms us, makes us feel at once safe and small. It inspires exploration, both mental and physical: this water is the border between us and somewhere totally different. It is both a fine line and an endless source of power and mystery. It is a place where we do not belong, and yet we find ourselves drawn to it, over and over.
The ocean has provided inspiration for writers and artists since there were writers and artists. The endless waves, both smooth and violent, transparent and concealing, provide texture and shape for sculptors, painters, and designers. The wildlife, so unlike what is familiar to us as land animals, causes us to rethink what life really is. And for those of us in the American Northeast, there are the literal boundaries between land and ocean, more extravagant and extensive than a boundary has any right to be. Beaches in low tide, pocked with pools left by the retreating sea. The brackish bays and lagoons where the great rivers of our region—the Hudson, the Saint Lawrence, the Susquehanna—mix and merge with the mighty Atlantic.
In art and fine craft, the ocean is an endless well of possibilities. Paintings may literally capture scenes of coastal life or use the sea’s patterns and shapes for design and composition. Sculptors recreate the lines and curves of a mussel shell, the sleek, powerful shape of a whale or the aggressive spikes of a lionfish. The sea may even – literally – provide the materials for artistic work: shells, stones, and sea-worn glass can be used to create jewelry or accentuate a mosaic. Ecological, mythical or metaphorical views of the ocean are often described through visual means.
In the Sculpture Café this spring, Paradise City’s artists are inspired by the call of the sea in the special exhibition: “Ocean View!” Even though the oceans remain, for the most part, unexplored by scientists, there seems to be no limit to the number of ways our artists can mine them for inspiration.