“Working Portraits / watermen.1” Exhibit

Marc Castelli has been painting the workboats, watermen, and log canoes of the Chesapeake region for over 30 years. He is considered by many to be a master of his watercolor medium and a renowned artist of the Chesapeake. The MassoniArt gallery has represented Marc for over 25 years with an annual one-man show. Marc’s “Working Portraits/watermen.1” breaks the mold in that it is an unusual and intimate exhibit limited to three weeks, May 26 through June 12. Marc’s annual exhibition will continue to be shown in conjunction with Sultana’s Downrigging weekend and remains fixed during the late fall months of October and November.

“Something?” by Marc Castelli

“For many years, Marc has painted a portrait or two of watermen for his yearly shows,” gallery owner Carla Massoni explained, “so he is no stranger to capturing the image of watermen at work. The pandemic has brought home the fragility of life and deepened his desire to capture the most personal of his many subjects.”

“Some of the men I started out with have passed on,” Marc shared, “and others have ‘swallowed the anchor’ meaning have left the water for a variety of reasons. Bad health, old age, destroyed knees, backs and shoulders, and carpal tunnel difficulties are among those reasons. Some refuse to give up. Most have not left the water of their own free will. At my age of 71, I do not relish the idea either.”

Marc approached the portrait project with a certain trepidation. “J.S. Sargent had these two things to say about portraits, ‘Every time I paint a portrait, I lose a friend and a portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth.’ ”

When discussing the genesis of this project Marc shared, “painting such personal images of them is unnerving. In some instances, the focus is solely on the face with the weathered lines of their lives streaming from the eyes. Some call those lines ‘crow’s feet’ I liken them to a map of every creek, river, gut, thurfer, cove, and bay these men have worked as they harvest crabs, fish, eels, oysters and turtles.”

Also included in the exhibit are focused images of the watermen on their workboats. For Marc, these watermen are not just figures to populate a painting. “There is no such thing as a generic waterman. The men in the paintings are knowable to themselves, their families, and to their compatriots.”

Carla Massoni, owner of the gallery, explained the timing for the exhibit. “Due to long standing scheduling in the High Street gallery, we decided to launch this special exhibit of Marc’s in the new Cross Street gallery albeit with a limited run. Memorial Day weekend seemed most appropriate due to the large number of visitors in Chestertown. However, the reception and artist talk will take place on the weekend of June First Friday, June 3 and 4, to enable long standing Castelli fans the opportunity to meet with him and still be out and about for their Memorial Day festivities.”

Featured in MassoniArt’s High Street gallery during this period will be Marcy Dunn Ramsey’s annual exhibit, and photographs by Michael Kahn. Gallery hours in both locations are Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and in the Cross Street gallery on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.

All COVID guidelines are observed, and the gallery is open by private appointment by contacting Carla Massoni at 410-708-4512.

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Allison Rogers



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