Globe South Behind the Scenes

At Shipyard, breaths of plein air

On display at the Shipyard Gallery are “Light on the Marsh, Cohasset.’’ On display at the Shipyard Gallery are “Light on the Marsh, Cohasset.’’
By Robert Knox
Globe Correspondent / August 4, 2011

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Sergio Roffo said his career took off after he moved to the South Shore and began painting its marshes.

His “Light on the Marsh, Cohasset,’’ is one of the paintings currently on view in the exhibition at the Shipyard Gallery in Hingham, arranged by the South Shore Art Center.

The gallery, a satellite venue for the Art Center in Cohasset, is exhibiting a show by the New England Plein Air Painters, an invitation-only group of landscape painters, who travel and paint together outdoors a couple of times a year. Working in connection with a local gallery, their paintings are framed, exhibited, and sold at auction. The group was scheduled to paint in the breezy open air of two Boston Harbor Islands last weekend, and their efforts from this painting expedition were to be sold in a silent auction at a gala reception held by the Art Center.

Meanwhile, some 40 works by the 12 painters are on exhibit at the Shipyard Gallery in Hingham through Aug. 28. The show includes three artists who are also “gallery artists’’ at the art center - Roffo, Margaret McWethy of Hingham, and Dianne Panarelli Miller of Abington - whose works appear regularly at the center’s main gallery.

The other painters are T. A. Charron, Robert Duffy, Michael Graves, William G. Hanson, Stapleton Kearns, Barbara Lussier, Chris Magadini, Caleb Stone, and Marjorie Whorf.

“They’re all beautifully framed and presented, and you can just tell they’re done in the plein air,’’ said Sarah Hannan, the center’s director.

Roffo, who grew up in Boston, said painting the South Shore coastline jump-started his career.

“We moved to Scituate,’’ he said. “We built a house. I started getting really inspired by the local landscape, the marshes, the shoreline, the river. It just flipped me out. We live in a beautiful place.’’

An artist who describes himself as “a realist luminous painter’’ and a “marine painter,’’ Roffo said he enjoys going to iconic New England coastal sites like Nantucket. “But we don’t have to go anywhere. The South shoreline is superb.’’

Working from a studio at his home, he paints seven days a week, and his oil landscapes and seascapes are represented by galleries.

The New England Plein Air Painters follow the path of America’s 19th-century luminous painters who traveled and painted together as they sought to capture the spirituality of the country’s landscape.

“We’re all friends. We all know each other’s news. We get together and travel all over and paint the landscape like the early American painters,’’ Roffo said.

A gallery puts together an event and invites the group to go paint for a few days. Recent trips include expeditions to Jeffersonville in the Vermont mountains and to Marblehead.

Roffo’s two marine paintings at the Shipyard Gallery are an image of a “marsh landscape of Little Harbor, Cohasset’’ and a scene of a rocky coastline in Maine.

McWethy, a full-time painter with a studio in Hingham, paints “from life outdoors,’’ and sells her work through the Egeli Gallery in Provincetown. She describes herself as “an Impressionist and realist,’’ working in the traditions of painter Henry Hensche, who founded the Cape School of Art in Provincetown, generally regarded as one of the country’s premier schools for outdoor painting.

McWethy has five oil paintings in the Shipyard Gallery show, two of them figurative studies of boys “skimboarding’’ - riding boards along the freshly wet sands of Nantasket Beach. The others are views of dragnet fishing boats tied to a dock, three “race ready’’ wooden dories prepared for an annual rowing race from Hingham to Hull, and a child squatting to study a shell, immersed in her shoreline find.

Robert Knox can be reached at

“New England Plein Air Painters’’ The Shipyard Gallery

18 Shipyard Drive, Hingham

Wed. through Sat., 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sun., noon to 5 p.m., 781-749-2100