An official rebuff for artist’s Sail Boston hopes

N.Y. woman sought to paint tall ships article page player in wide format.
By Matt Collette
Globe Correspondent / July 8, 2009
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Visitors may be able to look at the tall ships this week. But they can’t paint them, at least not on property of the Massachusetts Port Authority.

The agency, which owns the docks where some of the ships will be docked for Sail Boston, rejected yesterday a New York artist’s request to sketch and paint the tall ships from the docks.

“I have been requesting permission to see the ships from the side or even look from the side and sketch, but they haven’t let me, and they’re very strict,’’ said Galeyn Sutherland Remington of Manhattan. “They said if I could do it, then everyone could do it.’’

Remington said she started painting ships about two decades ago after noticing how beautiful the rigging of ships appeared at night. Unable to find someone to shoot photographs for her, she decided to paint the ships on her own. She said she has painted under the stars at Sail Boston once before, about 10 years ago, and said she has painted in Europe, as well.

Remington said she first approached Massport officials two weeks ago to get permission to paint on the docks. She asked to paint on Friday and Saturday nights, the days expected to draw the biggest crowds.

Yesterday, Massport officials told Remington that she would not be allowed to paint from the docks, even during the day.

Officials said that there have been fundamental changes in security procedures since the last time the tall ships were in Boston, in 2000, a year before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“The security environment is much different today,’’ said Matthew Brelis, an agency spokesman.

Brelis said Massport officials told Remington that she would not be able to paint on docks open to the public: the Charlestown Navy Yard, Fish Pier, and the Seaport World Trade Center. There will be far too many people on the docks - organizers expect more than 300,000 people to visit the ships over the next four days - to allow for a painter to safely set up.

“For crowd control and safety reasons, our operations and security personnel thought it best not to have a stationary artist with an easel in the public visitation area,’’ Brelis said. No members of the public will have access to the docks after 10 p.m., Brelis said.

Remington said she had been given permission to paint aboard the Argentine ship Libertad, which she said she had sailed on before. Brelis said Massport officials would do their best to accommodate getting her to and from that ship safely, if she chooses to paint from on board.

She uses water-based tempera paints on large sheets of paper. Rather than using an easel, Remington often leans against part of a ship or equipment on the dock, she said.

“When I first started to paint these ships, I wasn’t planning to keep doing it,’’ she said. “I just loved the way they looked. There’s a kind of logic and poetic beauty. Each rope is a different shade of silver and gold, and you see the colors very differently at night. The drama is more pronounced.’’