Charles “Fran” Kenney celebrated at Louisa Gould’s latest maritime art show

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"Island Colors" by Leslie S. Self, Oil on Canvas 24 x 48, framed to 25 x 49, $2,900.

Updated Thursday July 9

Every few years Louisa Gould hosts a maritime art show at her Main Street, Vineyard Haven, gallery. It’s a much-anticipated event by fans of the genre, in part because Ms. Gould had for the past few years represented the esteemed artist Charles “Fran” Kenney, a member of the American Society of Marine Artists whose work hangs in museums and galleries throughout the country, and whose commissions included works for the U.S. Navy Department and the Hartford Insurance company.

Last fall, Mr. Kenney died at the age of 94. His family has provided Ms. Gould with all of his remaining available work, and the 20-plus paintings — of both historic and contemporary sailboats — will be on display as the focal point of the “Maritime — Sea & Shore” show, hanging until July 16.

Mr. Kenney came from a long line of ship masters, owners, and builders, and his lifetime love of boats is obvious in the detail that goes into his work.

But his skill doesn’t end at mere draftsmanship. His works expertly capture all of the elements — light, sea, and sky — of his chosen subject. “The thing people comment on is the detail and the feeling of the water,” says Ms. Gould. “There are these teeny little teal highlights that you don’t even notice until you look really close.” This type of perfectionism not only lends authenticity with the minutest of details in the boats, it also brings his seas alive with motion.

Ms. Gould knows maritime art as well as anyone. An avid yachtsman, she has sailed in the America’s Cup and other prestigious competitions. Her love of sailing translates to her photographic work — bold close-up images taken during races. Ms. Gould is well known as a sports and travel photographer. She has covered events such as the 2002 Olympics, the America’s Cup, and the Around Alone Race. Last month Ms. Gould hosted a travel photography show called “ Passport,” which showcased a variety of her work from travels abroad. A number of Ms. Gould’s maritime photos are also included in the show, along with works by a handful of other artists.

German artist Frauke Klatt displays more of a design-oriented approach to the subject. Her paintings are close-up images of small boats, focusing on the color and shape of the sail. She has even incorporated actual sails into her work, painting in acrylics on sailcloth.

Ms. Klatt’s distinctive, almost abstract style features a very painterly approach facilitated by mixing sand in with the paint to build up her highly textural, dramatic seas.

Both Paul Beebe and Alan Eddy take a rather romantic approach to maritime scenes, focusing as much on stunning morning, evening, or night skies and seas as on the boats themselves.

Not all of the images are as narrowly focused as the highly realistic paintings by Mr. Kenney, the stylized images of Ms. Klatt, and Ms. Gould’s photos. Among the other artists represented in the show are Linda Bessey, whose atmospheric paintings on wooden boards include depictions of lighthouses and lone buoys; Dorothy Fox, who takes an an impressionistic approach to seascapes; and Leslie Self, who captures beautifully soft, serene beach scenes in oil. Ms. Self’s large painting “Island Colors” is a show standout, with its striking peach sky and mint green and blue water. Also included in the maritime show are a selection of Nantucket baskets by Celeste Santee. “Celeste is the only person on the Island who does Nantucket baskets,” says Ms. Gould. On July 1 the gallery hosted a talk by Ms. Santee. The artist will speak on her craft again on August 12.

The maritime show is a must for sailors and fans of the genre. It’s also a wonderful look at a traditional art form. “We’re celebrating our maritime history here on the Island,” says Ms. Gould. “I always show some maritime art, but I thought it was time again to devote a whole show to it.”

 An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Frauke Klatt had passed away last fall, Ms. Klatt is not deceased.