The summer after my sophomore year of college, while working on a schooner in Maine, I met a retired fisherman who knew a bartender in Fairhaven, Massachusetts who had a lot of fishing connections who could get me a site on a scallop boat out of New Bedford and set me up with the necessary gear. Alas, at that time, there was a general fishing strike in the harbor, the first in a century or more. After the bus ride from Maine and several days in the two-dollar-a-night Windsor Hotel, my money was running out and there was no end in sight for the strike. Much of the rest of that summer I screwed handlebars onto pogo sticks in a toy factory in Troy, NY. That’s as close as I ever got to being an actual fisherman…and it’s not nearly as interesting a story to tell my grandkids.
As a freelance photographer, between paying jobs, I often contrived to get myself out on fishing boats. I’ve been up to my knees in fish and covered in scales on the decks of fishing vessels in Rhode Island. I spent a few days on a small wooden dragger in the Gulf of Maine one January until we were driven, almost fishless, back to port by high seas. I spent the better part of two Januaries photographing lobstering on Monhegan Island … even helped to bag bait. Every summer I rake a few pecks of quahogs.
The foregoing is intended to establish a little fishing “cred”, because the answer to the question I’m most frequently asked is, no, I don’t fish.
Having been a photographer for almost three decades, it’s a joy to be free of the bonds of objective reality. While photographs may occasionally trigger an idea, I never paint from them. I prefer to bend, stretch and twist things any which way they’ll make an interesting composition. My paintings are completely made-up. They are meant to be iconic rather than descriptive, creating a feeling, an emotional response, with somewhat generic symbols rather than to accurately catalogue the particulars of an identifiable person, place, or thing. A blank canvas is my place I make the world as it “should” be. My places and things have analogs in reality, but specifically, they exist only in my mind and on the canvas. They are irreverent fantasies made up of love of boats and the seacoast, respect and admiration for people who wrest a living from saltwater, and maybe just a little bit of envy or disappointment of never having been one of them. They come from years of observation, a good amount of imagination and just a smidgeon of actual experience.
I feel most successful when people tell me that my work makes them smile and when working fishermen enjoy my work. I hope you enjoy it as well.