Tag Archives: Fishing

‘Following Fish’ exhibit opens Sept. 27

Marie Louise Gomes makes scallop bags at Diamond Marine Supply, one of the many diverse jobs vital to seafood processing in the commercial fishing industry. (Photo by Phil Mello)

Marie Louise Gomes makes scallop bags at Diamond Marine Supply, one of the many diverse jobs vital to seafood processing in the commercial fishing industry. (Photo by Phil Mello)

An innovative exhibit titled Following Fish – Navigate Through the New Bedford Fishery opens Friday, September 27, 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Following Fish debuts on the eve of the port’s tenth annual Working Waterfront Festival and precedes a gala concert at 7:30 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater to benefit the festival’s programming. Concert tickets are available at the door for $10. The public is cordially invited to the exhibit opening; RSVP is required in advance by calling (508) 997-0046, ext. 100.

Installed in the San Francisco Room, Andrew Wilde Gallery and the Davis Observation Deck overlooking the harbor, Following Fish brings the past and present together in a poignant and dramatic way, notes María Quintero, Curatorial Fellow and the exhibit’s lead curator. “It is easy to look out across the many draggers and scallopers and imagine a similarly sized fleet 150 years ago, except with wooden hulls, masts and spars. Following Fish draws a direct line from whaling then to fishing now,” she said.

Whaling was a dangerous profession and it is no different for the com­mercial fisherman today. Fishing remains one of the most dangerous occupations in the country, yet the men and women of New Bedford continue to go down to the sea for fish. As a result of their great efforts and with the assistance of processing plant workers on shore, New Bedford has been the nation’s highest grossing fishing port for 13 consecutive years.

Through an innovative design approach, Following Fish will be expanded upon over the course of the next few years. With the input of an advisory panel led by highly respected leaders in the field such as Drs. Brian Rothschild and Kevin Stokesbury, the museum’s curators will open up the exhibit development process to the public. Visitors can participate in interactive elements and share their opinions online as they navigate the fascinating, complex and arduous voyage to bring seafood from the ocean to the dinner table.

 In addition to being an engaging visual ex­perience, the exhibit aims to test new educational approaches for younger audiences while addressing many of the larger complex and vexing questions that envelope the industry today.

Featured are new acquisitions by contemporary artists includ­ing paintings by Dora Atwater Millikin, a 40” long model of the dragger Nobska by Westport model maker Bruce Gifford and the outdoor installation of ceramic fish by Nancy Train Smith. Extraordinary wood carvings by Leander Plummer (1857-1914) are juxtaposed with contemporary photography by Phil Mello and accompanied by oral histories with fishermen provided by Laura Orleans and the Working Waterfront Festival Committee.

Following Fish is sponsored by the William M. Wood Foundation. Tweet the exhibit with hashtag #FollowingFish_NBWM

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Working Waterfront Festival Publishes Book

Our friends at the Working Waterfront Festival have announced publication of Voices from the Waterfront: Portrait of the New Bedford Fishing Industry.

A reception to celebrate the release of the book will take place at the New Bedford Whaling Museum on Thursday, January 14th at 6:30 PM in conjunction with New Bedford’s monthly celebration of art, history, and architecture – AHA . The reception is free and open to the public. Photographer Mark Starr and Co-editors Kirsten Bendiksen and Laura Orleans will be on hand to talk about creating the book which will be available for purchase.

This 80-page book is based on interviews conducted over a five year period with 43 individuals from the New Bedford/Fairhaven fishing community. Their voices provide a rare first hand accounting of life and work in the port.

Those interviewed include retired and active fishermen, lumpers, auctioneers, shoreside business owners, fisheries scientists, a tug boat captain, fishing family members and others. Oral history excerpts are accompanied by black and white portraits taken by photographer Markham Starr.

New Exhibit, “Mike Mazer: Waterfront Works”

Mattapoisett watercolorist Mike Mazer is currently exhibiting 33 of his watercolors of the New Bedford Harbor working waterfront in an exhibit entitled, “Mike Mazer: Waterfront Works”. Installed in the third floor San Francisco Room and the adjacent gallery of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, these images depict a variety of daily scenes of the working harbor. The third floor gallery provides the entrance to the NBWM’s observation deck, where one can observe many of the sites depicted in Mazer’s work, in both the New Bedford and Fairhaven sides of the harbor. Mazer is a master of light and color, bringing lyricism and romance to the gritty marine enterprises.

The exhibit is curated by David B. Boyce, Curatorial Consultant to the New Bedford Art Museum, who also curated a larger exhibit of Mazer’s work in 2006 at NBAM, “Mike Mazer Paints New Bedford & Other Scenes of the South Coast.” Mazer’s work is well known locally and has won numerous awards across the nation. This exhibit will remain open through May 31st,  2010.

An exhibit catalog is available for purchase in the Museum Store.

Artist Statement

No one specific reason or incident would adequately explain my excitement and invariable attraction to paint along New Bedford’s waterfront. The more I think about why this is, the more I realize that it is multifaceted. I do know that as I approach the site, my emotional juices start to flow in anticipation that there will be another scene waiting to be painted. I need this passion for my work.

I also know that from New Bedford’s past prominence during the whaling era to presently being our country’s financially most successful commercial fishing fleet and industry, that I have a strong urge to capture and portray today whatcould become tomorrow’s history.

A frequent theme in my waterfront paintings is the inclusion of the workers who maintain and repair the fleet. Although it is a different type of work, somehow, I feel a common bond between the workers and myself. Their work brings back memories of my past when I was a gravedigger maintaining a cemetery, a construction laborer building houses, an arborist and tree climber tending to the Boston Commons and surrounding area, and more recently as a physician. I interpret their hard work as well as the benefit and safety given to the crews and owners as not being too dissimilar to my past or present activities. Interestingly, when the workers and I have the chance to talk, not only do they tell you about their family and goals, a number of them also paint as artists and are awaiting better times to do more. I obviously feel comfortable being there.

Thus, it is not one aspect, but rather the waterfront in its entirety that intrigues me. The panoply of subject matter offers a wealth of material helping to bring about the essence of my maritime work, which is the creation of a compelling design. I find a fascination with all the abstract geometric man-made shapes found there that can be selectively rearranged into a realistic composition and painting.

Focus on the Working Waterfront

Thanks again to Phil Mello for  Working Waterfront: Photographic Portraits. This exhibit, which came down a couple weeks ago, focused on local shoreside workers and their jobs. To see other work by Mr. Mello go to Photo.net , and/or watch the slide-show below.

The working waterfront is a story we continue to tell, and build collections around. There is no more central story to our region. Replacing Mr. Mello’s exhibit is one by water-colorist Mike Mazer, up now  through the summer.

Rory Nugent’s “Down on the Docks”

Down at the Docks

Written by Rory Nugent
Social Science | Pantheon Publishers | February 2009

“There aren’t so many of those closed universes left in America, places where people share skill, custom, vocabulary, ethos, morality. Rory Nugent’s New Bedford is one of the holdouts, and it is described here with compassion and skill and humor. A classic American book”.
—Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy

“Lively, fascinating, and challenging. Rory Nugent has found the last of New Bedford’s indomitable fishermen, and the past comes roaring back to life just in time to make us think more deeply about the future of the seas.”
—Tony Hiss, author of The Experience of Place

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