With the recent unrest, and violence in the city of Baltimore, I (being a maritime artist), find myself thinking quite often about the Baltimore clipper ship, the Pride of Baltimore II. Whenever I hear the latest news out of Baltimore, I think of how many steps backwards Baltimore has recently taken since it was successfully revitalized. The revitalization began in 1975, when the city officials and mayor were looking for ways to rebuild the city and regain its pride. It all began with the decision to build a ship in an open shipyard along the waterfront to draw interested people from all around.
That ship would become the Pride of Baltimore, named and designed after the famous Baltimore ship Chasseur, which helped win the War of 1812. The Pride of Baltimore became the first Baltimore Clipper ship built in the last 150 years. The Pride of Baltimore’s mission would become that of a Goodwill Ambassador, representing the city, its citizens, and the state of Maryland around the globe.
Along with the building of the Pride of Baltimore and its completion in 1976, came new development of the Inner Harbor, including restored neighborhoods, businesses added, and a renewed sense of pride.
How will Baltimore turn itself around this time, I ask myself? That line of thinking made me curious as to whatever happened to the original Pride of Baltimore? Why did they have to build the second replica ship, the Pride of Baltimore II?
I was shocked to learn that the Pride of Baltimore sunk in a violent and sudden, squall/micro-burst storm, on the morning of May 19,1986, approximately 250 miles north of Puerto Rico. The captain Armin Elsaesser, 42 years of age, and three crewmembers were lost at sea. Eight other crewmembers managed to climb into a rubber raft and survived four days and seven hours at sea with little food or water, and lived to tell their harrowing story.
The city was stunned by the loss. Two years later the city commissioned the building of the Pride of Baltimore II, with new consideration given to its seaworthiness. For 27 years now, the Pride of Baltimore II has carried out the mission given the original ship, sailing around the world representing a city, a state, its people, and paying tribute to Baltimore’s maritime heritage.
I have been very fortunate to be on the water, photographing the Pride of Baltimore II in action, racing in the 2008 Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner race. It was neck and neck with its friendly rival the Schooner Virginia for the duration of the race, eventually winning after the lead went back and forth all night long!
In my painting entitled Friendly Rivals, I depict the beginning of the race. The Pride of Baltimore II is just getting underway. The two ships have just gathered wind, the Schooner Virginia is in the lead, and in a matter of minutes they raced by me neck and neck, healing to the portside, and headed on down the Bay.
For quite some time I have wanted to paint the Pride of Baltimore II as the central focus of a painting. I find the Baltimore Clipper to be a beautiful and unique tall ship. It interests me as a subject not only because I was born and raised in Maryland, but because of her beauty and historical significance.
The current day replicas of ships from days gone-by are modern day treasures. They symbolize and represent our country's rich maritime history.
So, I guess you can tell what I’m considering painting for my first maritime painting in quite awhile. I think the Pride of Baltimore II would be an appropriate and challenging ship to paint; one which I would enjoy painting; and one which would represent the past and future pride of a great American city.
Thank you as always for your interest in my art! I always look forward to hearing from you.