Chincoteague artists love the unique combination of light, location and lifestyle found on this island resort framed by bay and ocean. The serene tranquil beauty of Assateague and Chincoteague has attracted artists and photographers from all over. As you drive across the causeway to our secluded island you too will begin to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and your spirits will lift as you drink in the vibrant colors, sounds and aroma of our surrounding wetlands.
The Artists of Chincoteague: Keepers of the Memories
To live on Chincoteague Island is to be immersed from dawn to dusk in scenes to captivate the artist in each of us. Fortunately for us mainlanders, Chincoteague Island has its share of people who can actually capture those land-and-seascapes, and wildlife portraits, with astonishing and haunting immediacy. Thanks to their efforts, Chincoteague visitors can head home sustained by original artwork until they again return to the remembered marshes and shores.
If during your visit to Chincoteague you experienced a breath-stopping moment when a heron rose from a boat ditch to soar over a marsh on a dazzling autumn afternoon, or you looked across the marshes at dawn, just as the sky and water are merging in a unity of gold and pink, there’s a Chincoteague artist who has captured a similar moment on canvas.
Does that feeling of unbounded space you recall from walking along Toms Cove make your regular world seem uncomfortably cramped? There’s a Chincoteague painting somewhere to expand your horizons once again. The tiny bits of planet Earth which consist of Chincoteague and Assateague Islands are worlds unto themselves, and their artists never tire of exploring them.
If you want to know where to find original island artwork, a visit to the Lighthouse Oil Shed at the Assateague Lighthouse is an excellent place to begin. Combine a visit to the historic, barber-pole striped 142-foot lighthouse on a hill overlooking Assateague’s windswept emerald marshes with one light’s oil shed, where shows featuring the works of local artists are held from March until November.
A stroll through the shopping area of the Town of Chincoteague will take you past many art galleries, including the Island Arts Gallery of Nancy Richards West, renowned for the delicate glazes and colors which fill her oils of herons and egrets with an almost surreal stillness. Nancy is the Resident Artist for the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and is well known for her paintings of egrets and herons. She has been a professional artist for more than 35 years and recently began painting on location in the plain air tradition.
Or stop in at the Osprey Nest Art Gallery on Main Street, where you can find the latest Pony Penning poster, created each year by island wildlife artist Kevin McBride. In addition to his wonderful oils of the Chincoteague ponies in their natural habitat, McBride creates remarkably realistic portraits of island waterfowl. You might even run into McBride’s personal equine model, Cezanne. This magnificent pinto Chincoteague stallion has been the subject of more than one of his paintings.
No discussion of Chincoteague artists would be complete without mentioning the island’s masters of decoy carving. Reg Birch is a sixth-generation Islander who took up a wood carving hobby in the late 1970s, and now specializes in creating one-of-a-kind hand-carved, oil-painted decoys virtually indistinguishable from those of a century ago. Other award-winning Chincoteague decoy carvers include Ron Justis and Cork McGee.
The tides of Chincoteague and Assateague will continue to rise and fall, and each moment on these tiny islands will be different from all the moments before and to come. The artists of Chincoteague spend their days capturing its timelessness. Having one of their artworks will keep your Chincoteague memories as fresh as the day you made them!