For over three decades, celebrated artist Marc Castelli has accompanied watermen plying their rigorous trade on the Chesapeake Bay. For hundreds of hours each year, he’s lent a hand, hauling crab pots, oystering, and rigging, all the hard chores a workboat requires to make a day out on the water successful.
But Castelli was also there to study the men who devoted their lives to long hours, often in adverse conditions, to a skill handed down through generations. Taking thousands of photographs over the years, Castelli says that his relationship with the men and his art began to transform. The more he knew them as they revealed themselves in trust, the more refined and articulate their expressions in watercolors became.
“These watercolors are of husbands, fathers, uncles, cousins, sons, and brothers. I hope the individuality of these men will allow a viewer to discard the notion of them as mere compositional elements in a painting, ” Castelli says.
The Spy recently talked with Marc Castelli about his 30-year immersion into the lives of Maryland’s iconic watermen and how knowing them amplified his determination to convey their lives to us.
Marc Castelli’s second in a series of Chesapeake Bay waterman, working portraits/watermen.2, is now on display at MassoniArt Cross Street Gallery, 113 South Cross Street, through July 8. Gallery hours: Thursday and Friday 11-4, Saturday 10-5, Sunday at S Cross Street Gallery 12-3, Sunday at High Street Gallery – for appointments, call Carla Massoni at 410-708-4512.