Camden Falls Gallery Presents “The Beauty of Wood on Water”

Many Hands Make Light Work, Poppy Balser, Watercolor on paper

Camden Falls Gallery is pleased to announce our 6th exhibition of the 2019 season.

Exhibition: The Beauty of Wood on Water – Featuring Poppy Balser, Todd Bonita, and Paul Garnett

Exhibition Dates: August 29th – September 13th, 2019

CAMDEN ART WALK: Opening Reception Thursday, August 29th 5-7pm

Where the Shallows End, Todd Bonita, Oil on Panel

Coinciding with the Camden Windjammer Weekend and kicking off with Camden’s first Art Walk, Camden Falls Gallery is wrapping up its summer season with a show of works by three exceptional marine artists. All three offer unique interpretations of the subjects they love and are able to translate, and record their individual artistic journeys with poignant and stunning delivery. Though singular in style and approach, each artist shares a mutual relationship with the sea and those who live on it.  Poppy Balser is an active sailor and is able to capture a unique balance of wind, water, and design. Todd Bonita’s work emanates with atmospheric and introspective qualities, and the work of Paul Garnett reflects a unique blend of historical and narrative marine art.

Poppy Balser is a Canadian painter who has always lived within walking distance of the ocean. She developed an early and deep connection with the seashore which has deepened, as she studies the sea and its environment through her paintings. She often paints outside to keep her observations fresh and accurate.

Poppy values her plein air sketches for their directness. She feels they are an important reference tool which she brings back to the studio to use in making larger, more deliberate and intentional works. Her goal is to transfer the open air feeling of being outside in nature into her studio work. She paints outdoors through all seasons, finding her inspiration in the seacoast and landscapes.

“I feel so fortunate to live near the shore… with huge tides that sculpt our seacoast, dramatic waves and haunting fog, there is always something new to paint. I paint en plein air as often as possible. This practice enables me to observe my subjects over time so I can create paintings that resonate strongly with the viewer.”

Poppy is an elected Signature Member of the American Society of Marine Artists and the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolor, which require the highest levels of professional achievement and excellence in composition. Poppy’s work has been showcased internationally, and thanks to her growing international reputation as an exceptional artist, she was recently invited to take part in The Forgotten Coast en Plein Air. The 10-day festival is among the world’s most prestigious of plein air events, emphasizing artistic excellence and the production of investment-quality paintings. Poppy was invited to this event as part of an elite group of 20 internationally acclaimed artists from around the world.

Todd Bonita earned his BFA at The Art Institute in Boston. He also studied classical painting and drawing in Philadelphia at The Academy of Fine Arts. His career includes stints as a graphic designer for commercial businesses, and as a commissioned artist creating large scale murals. As a highly respected illustrator, Bonita has also worked for many large publishing houses including McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin.

As an oil painter, Bonita’s focus is often on small watercraft. His classic dories and yacht tenders are imbued with a deep sense of psychological mystery. The softness of light on these solitary vessels, resting quietly at their moorings or tethered securely to abandoned docks, seems to take the viewer outside the normal strictures of time to a more mystical state. Bonita writes, “I paint what is familiar to my background… introspective memories of my childhood…they’re contemplative and reflective of where I grew up.  I guess I’m digging into my soul.”

Where the Shallows End, Todd Bonita, Oil on Panel

In contrast to Bonita’s focus on the present, Paul Garnett is known for his precise and meticulous depictions of sailing vessels from a bygone era. Garnett grew up in the Boston area spending much of his free time on the waterfront. A special attraction to him was the frigate “Constitution”, docked nearby, where he befriended crew members working on the venerable warship “Old Ironsides.” An avid draftsman, he constantly recorded his experiences in sketchbooks, documenting his nautical interests.

A pivotal event occurred in 1962 when Garnett discovered the historic replica of the “HMS Bounty,” created for the classic film, “Mutiny On The Bounty.”  This full-scale ship was docked in St. Petersburg, Florida, and kept as a working exhibition. Pulling up stakes, Garnett moved his family south to work as a shipwright on The Bounty for seven years. Paul writes, “I don’t think I’ve ever worked on one of my marine paintings without drawing in some small way upon my unforgettable experiences aboard The Bounty.” Garnett’s intimate knowledge of historical naval structure, rigging and engineering of 18-19th century ships has informed and influenced his entire body of work.

Garnett has completed commissions for retired Coast Guard officers, and has worked at The Merchant Marine Academy in King’s Point, NY. His illustrations also grace the covers of William H. White’s historical naval trilogy about the War of 1812. Permanent collections of Garnett’s work reside in The Constitution Museum in Charlestown, Massachusetts and The Marine Museum in Fall River. The artist is also a longstanding member of the National Maritime Historical Society, American Society of Marine Artists, and the International Society of Marine Painters.

Close Hauled, Poppy Balser, Oil on Panel

As part of a larger strategy to establish Camden as a strong presence in the Maine art-scene, Camden Falls Gallery is proud to join forces with our long time friends and neighbors at the Small Wonder Gallery, the Page Gallery, Carver Hill Gallery and DAAC Designs to present Camden’s first inauguaral Art Walk!   Begin your experience at the Public landing where Camden Falls and Small Wonder are located and continue your journey with an easy stroll up to Bay View Street where you’ll fine Page, Carver Hill and DAAC Designs Galleries. 

Come and enjoy these truly wonderful collections dedicated to the marine art of Midcoast Maine!

Camden Falls Gallery is open daily from 10am-7pm, please join us in the Camden Art Walk on Thursday, August 29th from 5pm-7pm. For more information, please visit our website at, call 207-470-7027, or find us on Facebook and Instagram.

Leave a Reply