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An Artists Retreat on Nantucket Island ~
Discover Art Paired with History at the Century House by Linda S. Manning / Photos by Paul S. Manning
Nantucket, flush with history dates
back to the early 1600's when Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, an English
mariner sailed his bark Concord to the southern most part of the island
therefore placing it on the map.
At that time the sole occupants were
the Wampanoag Indians who lived undisturbed for many years and charted
the course for today.
Steeped in history and charm,
Nantucket has transformed herself numerous times. In the
beginning it was known as a whaling community, today as a mecca
for artists, writers, historians and of course, tourists.
better way to showcase and perfect your talents than by
experiencing this picturesque and scenic island measuring a mere
three and a half by fourteen miles. Nantucket, known as an
artist's colony in early days continues to flourish at present
day as an expression of imaginative talents.
Today, blends of artistic
flair are exemplified through a timeless environment. Nantucket,
with its oldest house, The Jethro Coffin House built in 1686,
its oldest American windmill built in 1746 and still in
operation, and its oldest continuously operating guest house;
The Century House, where time is captured and illustrated
through inspired observation.
The site of The Century House dates
back to the Cliff Road land purchase of 1833. Nantucket Historian,
Edouard A. Stackpole discovered in an old Nantucket family of Scottish
decent, Captain Robert Calder as the builder of Century House. During
that time Captain Calder sailed the seas to hunt whale and after several
successful sailings he finally returned to complete the construction of
the house in the early 1840's. It further became a boarding house in the
1870's offering accommodations for islanders during the winter and
summer months. Captain Calder chose this site for the ocean wind, the
vistas, and the serenity.
Century House all dressed up
Today, innkeepers Jean Ellen Heron and
Gerry Connick have created a new identity for the 16 room Century House.
JeanE as a docent at Palm Beach's Norton Art Museum along with Gerry's
vision and contribution to the artistic scene initiated the birth of the
distinctive 'artist in residence program.'
As a direct result of the first
Century House Professional Artists Workshop, including an eclectic group
of artists with different approaches of artistic illustration and
methodology to the present day expression of insight and critiquing of
artists with similar angles, delivered what is known today as the
Century House Charettes.
The term Charette was derived from a
pre-1900 exercise at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in France. There, students
of architecture were given a design problem to solve within a precise
amount of time. When the time was up, the scholar would hurry their work
from the studio to the Ecole in a cart called a charette. Because time
was of the essence, some students leaped into the cart in hopes of
completing their work while en-route. Thus the term is known today as an
ingenious method of brainstorming with like artists and professionals
for a purpose.
It is with this in mind as the focal
point for the workshops that an artist would be invited to participate.
After a review of the artists portfolio and when accepted by the
innkeepers, the artist could apply as a 'point master.' Once
acknowledged the artist creates their own seminar or Charrette with
fellow artists. The Point/Master Artist invites two or three artists to
participate in the workshop at the Century House, for several days of
intense artistic expression. Ignited by the talents of like artists,
energized by each other, enthusiasm flows, creating the perfect arena in
which to paint.
Secluded area for painting
Outdoor discussion area
Areas of seclusion surrounding the Inn
are transparent enough for one to produce a work of art without any
disturbances. Other artists will venture off to scenic areas of the
island to paint their imagery. According to JeannE, 'the most exciting
result is how delicious it is to experience the unfolding of a new
Because of their love for the arts,
JeannE and Gerry have created an atmosphere for artists to work hand in
hand or brushstroke by brushstroke. Each will gain knowledge of and come
up with suggestions and inspirations for each other, thus creating a
successful artistic workshop.
As you walk through the historic inn,
the present day art collection peaks out from every corner. Each of the
guest rooms is also appointed with works from a variety of artists.
Guests of the inn are encouraged to
get together and mingle with the artists. As a visitor, once you have
been introduced to an artist and their work, their illustrations will
always be remembered for years to come, thus recognition of a particular
So, who was the first illustrator invited to The
The initial 'artist in residence' was
David Bareford of Greenwich, Connecticut. His work, primarily in the
beginning was of watercolor and as a result of studying and painting the
effects of the outdoors with its ever changing light and shadow. He then
turned to oil painting to capture the outside movement of light from the
landscape and the sea.
As you meander from the wrap around
porch through the entrance hall into the parlor, works of art fill up
the spaces for all to view.
Other artists such as Marla Koor, a
talented and technical artist creates life-sized paintings of rich
landscape and marine images in Nantucket brought into existence to
create a range of feelings on canvas.
Michael Harrell, a self taught painter
using watercolor and oil reflects the influence of American realists in
his collections. He is known as having the ability to capture the
dramatic effects of light.
William P. Duffy
William P. Duffy, an accomplished
Master/Point artist painting a place only with a special feeling,
journeyed to Nantucket and developed a deep appreciation for the unusual
A Canadian artist, Paul Arsenault
created a colorful display of the wharf houses on the water with a dock
aligned in the forefront.
But my favorite artist in residence is
the work of George Augusta of Massachusetts. He traveled through out the
country as a portrait specialist creating works in oil and pastel for
individuals and institutions. However it was his figure, the lady in the
red bikini that captured my heart. Not only are the colors vivid and his
illustration captivating, the realistic composition, shading, and
radiance caught my eye.
Today one can experience the melting
of Nantucket's history, the glorious scenic environment, and the
narration behind The Century House. Through the visions of Gerry and
JeanE and their contributions to the artistic scene, they have truly
captured a moment in time. See for yourself...
Visit and discover the hidden treasures
Nantucket, Massachusetts at The
Article and photos submitted
Author, Linda S. Manning
Photos by Paul S. Manning The Kitt Shepley House
23 Division Street
Newport, Rhode Island 02840
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