Old Lyme — The ever-changing ocean and its estuaries and tidal pools. The creatures that live in, under, above, near the water. Vessels that navigate the seas. Bridges, lighthouses, docks, buoys, riggings. People fishing, swimming, sailing, clamming. Sand, shells, rocks. Crashing waves. The light on the water.
In painting and sculpture, artists explore the myriad aspects of the maritime world in “Waterworks: A Marine Show,” a show that opened at the Lyme Art Association on June 14 and runs through August 2.
The show’s paintings include pieces done in oil, watercolor, pastels and acrylic and there are a number of etchings and multimedia pieces. Around the gallery, six or seven cast-metal sculptures bring the theme into three dimensions.
In particular, the exhibition has a strong showing in watercolors. Caleb Stone’s “Island View” is a well-composed village scene reminiscent of Winslow Homer’s style and technique. JoAnna Chapin’s “Before the Heron” is a complex, layered snapshot of koi swimming in and around stones in a pond, with light bouncing off the surface of the water.
Another strong piece was Dora Atwater-Millikin’s “Door, Drum,” done in oils, depicting a cobweb of commercial fishing vessels’ riggings and trawling equipment contrasted against the bold simplicity of the vessels’ forms, reflected in the rippling water.
Nina Ritson’s etching, “View in Old Lyme,” a tiny piece in the second gallery, is also not to be missed. With rich greens and greys, she captures Old Lyme’s marshes in a modern yet timeless interpretation that could have originated in the last century.
The 120-piece show was juried by Karen Blackwood, who is a signature member of the American Society of Marine Artists.
Jocelyn Zallinger, gallery manager, said about 100 artists entered more than 300 pieces for the show. Each artist could enter up to four pieces.
The jurying process is done in person over two days on a weekend rather than by sending digital images, creating a time of social engagement for artists and the community.
“This is an old-fashioned kind of place. The artists bring the work in and the juror sees everything in person, sees the frame,” she said. “It’s a lot easier to do it by ‘jpeg’ — you don’t have all the work of lugging it away and storing it and all of that. But it’s nice to do it in-house because all of the artists come together and they can see everything, see what everyone else is doing, it’s always a lot of conversation.”
Zallinger said the entire weekend is productive for artists and visitors alike.
“Some people buzz in and buzz out but some people spend a lot of time. They look and they see everything that’s being entered,” she said. “And it’s also fun for visitors to come because they get to see how a gallery works or how an art association works.”
All of the work is for sale. “Sometimes they buy things before it goes up on the wall,’ she laughed.
The atmosphere of the gallery is intended to be welcoming to all, she said.
“This is a fun place, people sit down and play the piano, if you have little kids, I have a bucket of toys and I can give them something to draw with,” she said.
The Lyme Art Association was established in 1914 and the gallery, designed by architect Charles Platt, was built in 1921 with skylights that provide natural light.
Knowing a century of artists have shown work in these spaces gives the building a special feeling, said Zallinger, who has managed the space for six years.
“The gallery has a great vibe — I think it’s all those years of creativity on the wall,” she said.
Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 .pm. and by appointment. Admission is free, but a $5 donation is suggested.
Lyme Art Association, 90 Lyme Street, Old Lyme 860-434-7802. For more information, go to lymeartassociation.org.