By Gail T. Boatman, correspondent
COLLINGSWOOD -- With the July Fourth weekend coming up, thoughts turn to the Jersey shore and the ocean beyond.
But at the Perkins Center for the Arts’ Collingswood Gallery, at 30 Irwin Ave., it is the Delaware River and its tributaries that occupy the spotlight.
An exhibit, “S.J. Waterways: The Tides That Bind,″ through Aug. 20, brings together regional artifacts, old and new, and displays them next to formal oil paintings of the river in all seasons and times of day.
The result is a sweeping view of riverfront and creek-side areas that have inspired artists and commercial interests alike. Sleek and dark, a racing canoe, owned by the Red Dragon Canoe Club in Edgewater Park and built in 1902, is a work of art in itself.
A basket crafted from the shaved bark of a tulip poplar tree by Mount Holly’s Steven Carty, and a collection of carved fish, native to the Delaware River, illustrate the close ties between artisans and the region they inhabit.
“They and the more formally trained artists are deeply influenced by the Delaware and the tributaries that flow from it,″ said Philip Carroll, an artist and Perkins’ curator of exhibitions, who organized the show. Five of his paintings of the river, oils on panel, are on view. Together, they express Carroll’s infatuation with water.
“We are all drawn to it. There is something about watching it flow. It’s meditative,″ he said.
Another South Jersey artist, Glenn Rudderow, of Bridgeton, is represented by seven paintings of various tributaries of the Delaware Bay.
Both groups of artists have fallen under the spell of the river, Carroll said.
“It’s a source of fishing, transportation and commerce, as well as artistic inspiration,″ he said.
A perfectly rendered model of a shad shack by Ray Hoffman recalls an era when houseboats plied the waters of the Delaware during shad season. They were floating homes for the fishermen.
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