Carla Massoni Gallery
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MARC CASTELLI – Annual Exhibition
Hawkins is at the Door

May 18 - June 30, 2012
Opening Reception: Friday, May 18th, 6-8pm
OPEN HOUSE - Saturday, May 19th, 11am - 4pm
Artist Talk - 12 noon


Longtime waterman and Mayor of Tangier Island, “Ooker” Eskridge first explained the phrase “Hawkins is at the Door” to Marc Castelli as a metaphor used on the island to describe hard times. “For a Tangierman, they mean bad weather, no crabs, no oysters, no fish, no eels, no turtles, nothing to make any money. But even so, you best be working to keep what you have and gather your family around you.”

A Gloucesterman from the tidewater region of Virginia once asked Ooker, “Who in the hell is Hawkins, ‘cause he must be a very hard man.” Ooker got a laugh from that and then proceeded to explain it to him, “Hawkins is at the Door - means no money coming in!” Castelli learned that no one really knows who Hawkins was, and it is not a common name on the island. Phrases like “poor as a snake,” or “it is going to be a ‘snowcone’ or ‘rock candy’ Christmas,” convey the same concerns of hard times for a waterman. Throughout history watermen and their families have experienced challenging economic times, but as Castelli reminds us, “Most watermen still have an abiding, near animist, faith in the Bay and its recuperative powers.” The fate of the waterman is no longer in the hands of the men who have worked her waters for generations or in the natural order of the Bay’s evolution. “Hawkins is at the door.” The test is nigh.

On Friday, May 18th, Marc Castelli’s annual one-man exhibition – Hawkins is at the Door - opens at the Carla Massoni Gallery with a Collector’s Reception from 6-8 pm. On Saturday, there will be an Open House from11 am-4pm and an Artist’s Talk at 12 Noon. Both events are free and open to the public.

Castelli has been painting the watermen for over twenty years. He is known for his intimate perspective on their lives, a perspective gained by his active involvement on their workboats. The title for this year’s exhibition comes from a phrase Castelli heard bandied about the docks. Longtime waterman and Mayor of Tangier Island, “Ooker” Eskridge explained that the phrase “Hawkins is at the door” is a metaphor used on the island to describe hard times. “For a Tangierman, they mean bad weather, no crabs, no oysters, no fish, no eels, no turtles, nothing to make any money. But even so, you best be working to keep what you have and gather your family around you.”

Castelli learned that no one really knows who Hawkins was, and that it is not a common name on the island. Phrases like “poor as a snake,” or “it is going to be a ‘snowcone’ or ‘rock candy’ Christmas,” convey the same concerns of hard times for a waterman. Throughout history watermen and their families have experienced challenging economic times, but as Castelli reminds us; “Most watermen still have an abiding, near animist, faith in the Bay and its recuperative powers.” His concerns for this way of life and the reason for his activism, is his fear that the fate of the waterman is no longer in the hands of the men who have worked her waters for generations or in the natural order of the Bay’s evolution. For Castelli, “Hawkins is at the door,” and the test is nigh.

The thirty-five watercolor paintings featured in the 2012 exhibit capture the watermen’s reality. In an interview with author Tom Horton, Castelli explained his goal, “I want to paint the truth of their lives. I see them as the last of the free ranging cowboys. I don’t romanticize them or pretty them up.” The harsh conditions – ice, wind, snow, swells, fog, and the dark of night – Castelli is unsparing in his desire to convey the conditions faced on a daily basis. Snow capped baskets of oysters and crabs on sunburned docks; nets pulled, set, repaired; tongs, dredges, and the workboats – skipjacks, buy boats, draketails – all painted with stunning accuracy and an artistic aesthetic. But, in the end with Castelli, it is always the men – men at work – plying their trade. “He captures the essence of being a waterman.”


This is How You Do It
22x30, watercolor

For the third consecutive year, MPT-Maryland Public Television, selected a Castelli watercolor painting from the Simison Collection as the image for the 2012 Chesapeake Bay Week Poster. Through the efforts of many, the legacy gift of seventeen Castelli watercolors by Dr. Diane Simison to Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has gone far in fulfilling the educational goals she intended. The collection, with additional work borrowed from the Castelli family was exhibited in April at the Jolene Arts Center at the Darrow School in New Lebanon, NY. It will then travel to the Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center for exhibition from August - February 2013. There will be additional programming connected with the exhibition at the Calvert Marine Museum. Castelli's work will also be featured at the National Maritime Historical Society's annual event in Washington, DC. In October, the Miles River Yacht Club Foundation will honor Castelli with the Foundation's Distinguished Service Award. Castelli will be recognized for his role in "chronicling through his art those who sail and work on the Chesapeake Bay, for being one of America's pre-eminent maritime artists, for being a powerful advocate for the watermen of the Chesapeake, and for his generosity in supporting the activities of many of the region's non-profit organizations."

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