Love is in the air this month, and one thing Annapolis absolutely loves is Marine Art. Marine Art is any art that depicts ships and the sea. This art genre also includes portrayals of small boats, lighthouses, wharves, rivers, beach scenes—really any image that draws inspiration from the sea. You get the picture…
Marine Art, Defined
Over the centuries, Marine Art has evolved from its origins in simple rock paintings to include anything from detailed military ship portraiture to modern abstract art. In the old days, historic and newsworthy events were recorded via Marine Art, reflecting the importance of overseas trade and naval power. Today’s works can be paintings in any medium, as well as sculptures, collages, and photographs.
Maritime Art is generally a subset of Marine Art. Strictly speaking, Maritime painting depicts manmade objects, namely seafaring vessels such as ships on the high seas. “Marine Art” is a larger genre that includes Maritime Art, but also could depict a dramatic ocean storm or a pastoral river landscape or a pretty beach scene, without picturing any vessel or human intrusion.
Find Marine Art in Annapolis
Annapolis is a seafaring town and thus is blessed with lots of galleries and museums offering beautiful Marine and Maritime Art. My personal favorite is the Naval Academy Museum on the Academy grounds. You can spend hours perusing the Museum’s artwork and exhibits about the history of sea power and the U.S. Navy and Naval Academy.
Private galleries selling Marine Art are plentiful in Annapolis. Dock Street has the Annapolis Marine Art Gallery, where owner Jeffrey Schaub has offered sailing and seascape art for the collector community since 1978. He notes, “Marine Art is truly universal in its appeal, from famous square-rigged warships bristling with cannon to the spinnaker swirl of an America’s Cup yacht. Artists who paint scenes of the screw-pile lighthouse era when tough watermen sailed their skipjacks, buy-boats, bugeyes, and bateaus in the dead of winter—they also have a warm home here.”
On Main Street, McBride Gallery owner Cindy McBride has been a purveyor of fine art for thirty-six years. Her collections include Marine Art in styles ranging from impressionism to realism. Cindy says, “The beauty of the Chesapeake Bay and environs has been captured by photographers and painters for years. The Bay has much to offer the artist, from unique octagonal lighthouses to colonial sea battles to historic square-riggers, steamboats, skipjacks, bugeyes, and log canoes.”
Across the street, Main St. Gallery owner and artist Margaret Lee also offers a wide variety of fine art by regional and national artists. Plenty of other galleries can be found throughout Annapolis, Eastport, West Annapolis, and all along Maryland Avenue and West Street. The inner stretch of West Street is home to the newly established Annapolis Arts and Entertainment District. The A&E District hosts the First Sunday Arts Festival, “where community and arts fuse,” from May to October.
On State Circle, the Maryland Federation of Art (MFA) operates its Circle Gallery in a small circa-1820 former warehouse. The nonprofit MFA opened in 1968 with the mission of exhibiting established and emerging living artists.
Look for the MFA’s “Paint Annapolis” event in June, the annual plein air painting competition at locations throughout Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. “Plein air” is French for “open air,” referring to paintings created outside rather than in a studio. The artwork created during Paint Annapolis will be on display at the MFA Circle Gallery June 5-12 this summer.
Plein air painting is well suited to capturing the atmosphere, movement, and light so important to creating Marine Art. The nautical backdrop and real-life maritime commerce throughout Annapolis combine to provide a rich and colorful venue for making Marine Art. That’s why the Annapolis art world is home to so many beautiful renderings of vessels, marine landscapes, boating lifestyles, and architecture.
Come to Annapolis and see for yourself the impressive works of Marine Art sprinkled throughout the city. Or, mark your calendar for one of Annapolis’ fun, inspiring arts events open to the public.
Photos courtesy of Ann Powell, Annapolis Marine Art Gallery