Witbeck’s Boys of Summer Revisited for 2021 (Some stories never get old.)
Mort, Theo, Erik, Bryce, Mac, and Winston. They work the local docks. They are Mainers, born and raised. They are coastal life personified. They are the iconic fisherman of David Witbeck.
Through the years we have become quite familiar with Witbeck’s fishermen. Still, questions remain. Where did they come from? And more importantly, how did they find their way into Witbeck’s studio? Lucky for us, Witbeck is not only an artist but a storyteller.
As a freelance photographer, he used to love to go out on commercial fishing vessels when he had free time. Often, he toyed with the idea of doing an extended photo essay, but he could never justify the amount of time away from ‘paying jobs.’ “Truth be told, I usually had more fun talking with the crews and helping to sort fish than taking pictures,” says Witbeck, thinking back on the memory.
When he later started painting, fishing seemed to be the natural subject matter for him. “I wanted my paintings to be iconic rather than descriptive. For descriptive focus, photography would have been a better way to do it. I wanted to paint.” Initially, it was just for the fun of it, but then one morning about ten years ago, just before waking up, he found his inspiration.
“I had had one of those wonderful little REM sleep dreams. A guy was holding a fish. There just happened to be a sketchbook on the floor beside the bed, and I made this little ten-second doodle,” laughs Witbeck. “The rest is history.”
They have certainly come a long way.
And so goes the story of how these boys and more came to spend the summer on Maine Art Hill.
A David Witbeck Side Note –
“I also made another doodle, tentatively called, ‘The Last Fish.’ Yet, after ten years, and more than 300 fisherman paintings, I haven’t quite got to it yet.” For a few reasons we, as loyal Witbeck fans, hope the last fish never comes.
Preview opens Wednesday, July 21. Virtual Tour is available on the evening of Friday, July 23.