Maritime Art Exhibit Returns To Coos Bay For 22nd Year
If the ocean breeze is calling your name as this sweltering summer comes to a close, the Oregon Coast’s only art museum has an exhibition that’s sure to cool you off. The 22nd Annual Maritime Art Exhibit at the Coos Art Museum in Coos Bay is up now.
The exhibit has taken place since 1994 and is the only show of its kind on the west coast. Artwork from across the United States— and even a few international pieces— grace Coos Art’s walls from mid-July to mid-September. The museum is known for maritime art, acting as the West Coast regional for the American Society of Marine Artists.
But what is maritime art, exactly?
“Well that’s a more complicated issue” exclaimed the museum’s executive director, Steven Broocks. “The definition varies from person to person.” Broadly, maritime art consists of a variety of mediums depicting seascapes, ocean life, nautical ships and vessels, and marine history.
“It’s a very long tradition,” Broocks said, “going back to the Dutch primarily, but even back to ancient Egypt, with pictures of the Pharaoh out on his boat hunting hippos and what not.”
Each year, the exhibition acts as a time machine into the region’s own past. For example, Tualatin artist Buck Braden’s painting “Schooner North Bend” depicts a ship that was built long ago in Coos Bay. “It was the only four-masted schooner that was built in Coos Bay, and a very famous ship in it’s own day,” Broocks explains. The schooner rests in still water as mist rises from evergreens in the background to join the gray skies above. It’s an unmistakably Oregon moment.
“There are artists that are routinely part of the show,” said Broocks, “and a couple of artists that are in our own community, like Dutch Mostert and Don McMichael.” The exhibition has become an annual celebration of our coast as artistic inspiration. McMichael’s triptych “A Gathering Place” depicts four blue whales gliding between canvases, and is one of the most memorable pieces in this year’s show.
But even for those new to the Pacific Northwest, the wide offering of mediums, styles and themes are magnets for attention. Harold Johnson’s painting “Down to the Sea in Ships” is an incredibly detailed portrait of a small coastal town that won best in show this year. Pastel clouds of orange and blue bloom across the sky, opening for the sun to shine down upon the town’s red rooftops. Ships doddle in the landscape’s natural cove as a flank of trees spell the town’s end and the resurgence of nature in the grassy foreground.
And while "maritime art" can conjure images of grand ships and expansive seascapes, the show makes sure not to forget small, quiet and painterly pieces. “And to people visiting,” Broocks added, “you can influence who gets perhaps the best prize of them all, the people’s choice award!” The ballot box will be open through Sept. 13.
A weekend in the rolling ocean breeze of Coos Bay and the natural beauty of nearby Charleston pairs perfectly with the exhibition’s nautical imagery, providing a surefire way to beat the heat.
The 22nd Annual Maritime Art Exhibit is on display at the Coos Art Museum in Coos Bay until Sept. 26, 2015. For more information, visit .
Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting