Sea-Fever Style: India House’s “Mildewed Maritime” Decor

Well, that the opinion of ALAN FEUER in his Rooms column in today’s (April 22, 2009) of the New York Times (Time and Tide Gnaw at a Downtown Enclave) While sounding a little harsh, there is more than a ring of truth to it and frankly therein lies the India House’s charm. At least for me.

India House by epicharmus on

A maritime curiosity shop as much as a luncheon club, the India House was where I was taken on a number of occasions by the “big wigs” to celebrate successes when I was cutting my business teeth. For good luck it was always a good idea to rub the belly of the big fat smiling Buddha standing sitting guard inside the front doors. If you like maritime culture, history and heritage, this place is like Disneyland (with cobwebs and expensive threadbare Persian rugs).

And this was a place where captains of industry made history. From the India House’s website:

We will never fully know how discussions over luncheon and private meetings at India House changed history from 1914 through World War Two. The maritime historian, Frank O. Braynard, in his 1973 foreword to the second edition of The Marine Collection at India House, states that “England could not have survived [World War Two] without the armada of American-built, American-manned, American-operated merchant vessels…managed by many of the outstanding members of India House.”

So without the India House, German might be spoken in England today. (more India House history)

Sept 27, 1914 NYT article - click to download PDF

Click on the above article for a PDF download of the original 1914 story which makes interesting reading. I was particularly struck by the following paragraph which shows how little things have changed in nearly 100 years.

From the sound’s of Feuer’s article, the same people who I spied across the room thirty years ago are still going there today. They appeared to be pretty old back then so there must be something good going on here. Maybe the new marketing pitch should be “Eat in the India House and Live Forever!”

This economy is causing all kinds of casualties. And while most people wouldn’t notice if the India House rolled up its carpet, it would be a real loss to our national maritime heritage. And heck, where else can you go and grab a good turkey club and feel like you are eating in a maritime museum.

The NY Times has a cool interactive feature you should check out.

Previous NY Times article: Streetscapes/India House, at 1 Hanover Square; A Club Created With the Theme of World Commerce

Share this post :

Sea-Fever Style: Tugboat Lentil Soup

It’s a cold, damp, dark Wednesday here in Mattapoisett. It’s that sad time of year where boats are hauled every day and the harbor get’s handed back to the winter sticks.

It’s also the time of year to begin thinking of putting away the BBQ and lining up recipes for winter comfort food. Everett, WA based Herald food columnist Judyrae Kruse (Sea-Fever approved last name!) wrote about a great sounding recipe, Tugboat Lentil Soup by Carole Meagher, author of the cookbook Seasoned with love: Favorite heart-healthy recipes and reflections about food, family, friends, and faith. And to top that Kruse writes:

It then made an immediate debut in a Sept. 18, 2002, Forum column, wherein Carolyn told us, “Tugboat lentil soup was named when it was a mainstay during weekend outings on our old tugboat, Sea Fever.”

Now that’s a soup after my own heart!

Here it is:

Continue reading Sea-Fever Style: Tugboat Lentil Soup

Pirates of the Caribbean 4 Rumors

Jack Sparrow DIgg just pointed me to where Katey Rich reports:

Big, big news on the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, courtesy of one of our most reliable tipsters. Our proven informant (who we’re forced to keep anonymous) wants you to know the following info should be taken with a “grain of salt and a dose of pepper,” things are still in motion, but here goes anyway. Wondering how they’re going to make a whole Pirates movie with just Jack Sparrow? Or who else might return? Read on!

Most excitingly, there are talks of Captain Jack having a brother in the next movie, possibly to be played by Sacha Baron Cohen (perfect!) or Russell Brand (even more perfect!) Of course, that’s probably just fantasy casting, but why would either of those comedians turn the role down? As we’ve mentioned before, the new movie might kick off a trilogy, which would revolve around Captain Jack’s search for the Fountain of Youth.

Geoffrey Rush and director Gore Verbinski are apparently both planning to return, but… and this is a big maybe… Tim Burton might direct instead. Tim Burton!

Okay, it’s just a rumor but heck, it’s something fun to think about while the financial markets collapse, the war rages on, real pirates attack ships off Africa and politicians argue about the same thing and nothing.

Share this post :

Sea-Fever Style: The House on the Rock

House on the rock Anyone who’s ever sailed out of Newport, RI or driven over the Newport Bridge will recognize the the house on the rock in the above photo.

On August 6, 2008, the NY TimesWho Lives There column by Penelope Green was titled The Old House and the Sea and profiled the appropriately named Clingstone and it’s current owner, architect Henry Wood.

Fireplace ping pong

Built in 1905 at the cost of $36,982.99, Clingstone was basically abandoned in 1941, and then purchased by Mr. Wood in 1961 for $3,500 in derelict condition. With 23 rooms and 10 bedrooms, life on the rock is not exactly luxury.

Today, solar panels heat the water, and a wind turbine on the roof generates electricity. Rainwater is collected in a 3,000-gallon cistern, then filtered, treated and pumped through the house for cleaning purposes. (Mr. Wood claims it is safe enough to drink, “but my children don’t trust me so we don’t,” he said.) After years of using an activated seawater system that draws in seawater, then treats and filters the waste before releasing it back into the ocean, Clingstone now has the latest generation of composting toilets.

Continue reading Sea-Fever Style: The House on the Rock

Maritime Art Week – Lawrence Weiner, Navigating the Conceptual

There are some cool contemporary maritime influenced art projects currently on exhibit across the globe, so we’ve declared this Maritime Art Week on the Sea-Fever blog. Here’s the final and maybe most challenging and interesting installment of this series.

Lawrence Weiner was born in the Bronx, NY in 1942. Early in his life, Weiner had a variety of maritime jobs including working on an oil tanker and being a dock worker. In the early 1960’s he returned to New York where he began producing and exhibiting his art, the earliest of which included experiments with systematic approaches to shaped canvases. Weiner is considered one of the modern masters of conceptual art. Today he lives in New York and on a houseboat in Amsterdam. (Lawrence Weiner’s biography on the Guggenheim Museum’s website.)

In 2007, Weiner created an exhibit for the New Visions contemporary art program at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, titled Inherent in the Rhumb Line.

From the National Maritime Museum website:

The National Maritime Museum explores how human beings have sought meaning in the sea, time and the stars. At Greenwich the imponderables of time and space collide: this is the home of Longitude 0°, where one can stand on an arbitrary line marking out the starting point of each new day, year and millennium. Every place on the globe is measured east or west from this Prime Meridian, creating a framework for individuals to understand their place in the world. Lawrence Weiner’s artistic practice questions the subjectivities that create such constructs of understanding. Using observation and experiment, the artist interrogates the relationship of material objects to each other, and the relationship of material objects to individuals.

Like Simon Patterson, another Maritime Art Week artist as well as an New Vision’s artist, Weiner medium is often language and ideas.

Much of Lawrence Weiner’s artistic practice takes the form of language and his statements have been inscribed as text inside and outside the gallery, as well as taking the form of spoken words and printed matter. At the centre of this exhibition the words to a somewhat romantic song, Sailing Sailing, point elsewhere: songs, after all, are designed to be sung and heard, rather than read. Shown beside Weiner’s 2005 film Inherent in the Rhumb Line from which this exhibition takes its name, this song alludes to the freedom of the seas and navigating over the bounding main. As with traditional songs of the sea, Sailing Sailing has been handed down, passed around, reinterpreted and repeated, with each version as true as the next.


Currently, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles is exhibiting a career retrospective of Weiner’s work which is titled AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE. (through July 14, 2008 )


MOCA Guide to Lawrence Weiner’s AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE (download)


Tate Online Events (Video Interview) – Lawrence Weiner talking art – February 2, 2008

Share this post :

Maritime Art Week – Arden Scott’s Beautiful Sculptures

Arden Scott, a life long sailor who actually built her 28’ schooner herself, is a contemporary artist who’s beautiful works are both modern and ancient at the same time. The following 2 pictures are from an exhibition this summer at the Garrison Art Center, Garrison, NY.  (June 1 – August 10, 2008 )

Arden Scott's Infinite Pacifics 2004

Arden Scott's Withheld of Oceans 2005

From the Garrison Art Center website:

Arden Scott‘s love of the sea and a good yarn has informed her sculpture for many years. The lyrical curves prevalent in her boat effigies allow them to float through space and offer the imagination infinite nautical stories. Although primarily built in heavy materials, her boats retain a delicacy that seems as much like a three-dimensional drawing as a sculpture. Scott began her career as an artist in the sixties, pioneering in the urban wilderness that is now known as Tribeca. She made sculpture out of found materials from constructions sites: the World Trade Center, as it was being built, was an especially fruitful landscape and much debris has been elevated into a position of artistic value in the hands of Scott. Her artwork has been shown in galleries, museums, public spaces and outdoor sites all over the world. Scott has received numerous grants including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and her work has been featured in renowned publications throughout her long career. When she is not in her Long Island studio working on her boats, Scott is sailing the 28′ wooden schooner she built for herself, the Annie.

Here’s a very interesting artist interview by David Swatling:

Amei Wallach profile of the artist in The New York Times (Sept. 1, 2002) – Far From Midtown, She’s Fallen in Love With the Sea

Arden Scott's studio

I love everything about this artist work!

Share this post :

Maritime Art Week – The Art Boat

Since there are some cool contemporary maritime influenced art projects currently on exhibit across the globe, we’ve declared this Maritime Art Week. Here’s a peak at a another.

“That boat is a work of art.” No I’m not talking about one of the classic yachts designed by Olin Stephens, who by the way turned 100 years old on April 13. It’s the Tate to Tate Boat whose exterior and interior were designed by British artist Damien Hirst.

Tate Boat

While yesterday’s artist, Simon Patterson, was a Turner Prize shortlister, Hirst actually took the award home in 1995. Even if you don’t know anything about contemporary art you might have heard of Hirst’s diamond encrusted skull which last year reportedly sold for $100 million.

From the New York Times (July 13, 2003):

The new 220-seat catamaran, Hurricane Clipper, has been festively decorated by the British artist Damien Hirst, with dots in 35 colors. ”It’s a bit of fun,” said Mr. Hirst. ”Happy, optimistic, bright. If I’d done sharks, then people might not have wanted to get on.”

It is the fastest tour boat operating on the Thames, cruising at 27 knots. Video guides to Tate Modern and Tate Britain by the artists Anish Kapoor and Sam Taylor-Wood are shown on board.


The Tate Britain and Tate Modern are without a doubt my 2 favorite art museums on the planet. The Britain has the most amazing collection of J.M.W. Turners and the Modern’s Turbine Hall is an amazing space for large scale contemporary projects. You can ride in style between these 2 wonderful art destinations.

Share this post :

Maritime Art Week – Simon Patterson’s "The Undersea World and Other Stories"

Since there are some cool contemporary maritime influenced art projects currently on exhibit across the globe, we’ve declared this Maritime Art Week. Here’s a peak at a another.

Simon Patterson is a British artist that is probably best known for his work The Great Bear, a London Underground map in which the names of the stations have been replaced with those of philosophers, film stars, assorted celebrities, artists and even saints. In 1996, Patterson was shortlisted for the Tate Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize.

Simon Patterson The Great Bear

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England has a program called New Visions – Contemporary Art at The National Maritime Museum in which “the Museum commissions British and international artists to explore themes that illustrate the significance of the sea, time and stars to an ever-changing audience.” Patterson currently has a show there entitled The Undersea World and Other Stories. From the museum’s website:

The Undersea World and Other Stories investigates Simon Patterson’s consistent explorations of the sea, stars and time – themes central to the collections and research at the National Maritime Museum (NMM). The Museum unpacks the material cultures that result from human attempts to find their place in the world, be it mapping the skies above, the ocean depths below, or seeking relationships across time and space. (more)

Simon Patterson Cousteau

Patterson takes inspiration from the famous French undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau who in the 1960’s and 1970’s hosted the very popular TV show The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau. Hence the title of the exhibition.

The Undersea World and Other Stories presents an anthology of Patterson’s works alongside a new commission Cousteau in the Underworld which takes as its first layer mid-19th-century Admiralty charts of the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean where the sea is necessarily represented through its limits: soundings show the depth to its bottom; rocky outcrops and sandbanks mark where its surface is interrupted; details of landmasses, such as coastlines and buildings seen from seaward, its edges. Into these empirical documents Patterson folds Greek mythology – a belief system in which the adventures of gods and goddesses were used to interpret existence and conduct.

Not content with setting these two descriptive structures in mutual confrontation, Patterson further complicates the matter by drawing the figure of the French oceanaut Jacques-Yves Cousteau into his network. The pioneering scientist’s long-running television series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, first screened in 1966, turned the TV set into a porthole through which world-wide audience could explore the deep, aided by the crew of his ship, Calypso. Naming is an act that concerns Patterson: Cousteau’s ship adopts that of a nymph from Greek mythology, which in translation means ‘I will conceal’, quite the opposite of Cousteau’s mission.

Here are some of Patterson’s earlier works.

Monkey Business 1993

Simon Patterson Monkey Business

Untitled (Sails) 1996

Simon Patterson Untitled (Sails)

From the Ikon exhibition guide for the show High Noon:

This work plays upon the viewer’s knowledge of two diverse subjects ­ sailing and literature. The names are those of famous authors  Sterne wrote ground-breaking novels, Bell was the pseudonym of Charlotte Brontë and Chandler wrote crime fiction. However, each name has an additional association related to sailing and shipping ­ the stern is the rear of the boat, the bell is used as
a traditional nautical signal and a ship’s chandler provides necessary supplies. The numbers become less obscure through the realisation that they relate to the authors’ birth and death dates. The information on the sails is presented as formal yacht identification markings ­ highlighting Patterson’s obsession with systems. The work evokes ideas of escape and travel, as the artist invites the viewer on a voyage into a fictional world created by the three writers.

Simon Patterson is a smart conceptual artist interested in ideas and language, not pretty pictures. Lucky for us, his works have been heavily influenced by maritime history, heritage and culture.

The Undersea World and Other Stories is on exhibit until October 26, 2008. General information about the National Maritime Museum, a must see for anyone interested in all things maritime.

TimesOnline (UK) Review (April 30, 2008 )

Share this post :

Maritime Art Week – Container Art Show

Since there are some cool contemporary maritime influenced art projects currently on exhibit across the globe, we’ve declared this Maritime Art Week. Here’s a peak at a another.

The Wooster Collective is one of my favorite art blogs. Their interest is primarily street art and I’ve previously posted some of their incredible discoveries. Last week they posted about The Container Art Project which is currently in Italy.

From the Container Art Project website, “What is container art?”

Empty containers ambling around the world, filling with beauty wherever they stop.

An urban, itinerant and adaptive art exhibit. Installations, sculptures, and paintings of the most innovative talents of the local and global artscape in many containers spread around town. A different work of contemporary art in each container, a different mix of artists in each city. Interactive containers connecting communities far away through art.

We amble around the world following our impulses and interests.

Below images from Container Art’s Flickr photostream.

Share this post :

Maritime Art Week – David Byrne’s "Playing the Building"

Since there are some cool contemporary maritime influenced art projects currently on exhibit across the globe, we’ve declared this Maritime Art Week and we’ll take a peak at a few.

One of my all time favorite bands was the Talking Heads and long after they broke up, I’ve followed the music, art and activities of front man David Byrne who’s latest project is an installation in the beautiful Beaux Arts Maritime Building in New York City.


From David Byrne’s website where there’s also a good interview about the project.

Playing the building is a sound installation in which the infrastructure, the physical plant of the building, is converted into a giant musical instrument. Devices are attached to the building structure — to the metal beams and pillars, the heating pipes, the water pipes — and are used to make these things produce sound. The activations are of three types: wind, vibration, striking. The devices do not produce sound themselves, but they cause the building elements to vibrate, resonate and oscillate so that the building itself becomes a very large musical instrument.

Here’s short BBC news report on the project followed by an interesting YouTube video:


“Playing the Building” is sponsored by Creative Time an arts organization that does some amazing stuff. From their website:

Creative Time presents the most innovative art in the public realm. From our base in New York, we work with artists who ignite the imagination and explore ideas that shape society. We initiate a dynamic conversation among artists, sites, and audiences, in projects that enliven public spaces with free and powerful expression.

Here’s a video slide show of some of Creative Time’s past projects.

My favorite Creative Time project was Art in the Anchorage (1983) which was installed "inside the cavernous space of the Brooklyn Bridge’s massive stone foundation. In 1983, to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the bridge, Art in the Anchorage (1983–2001) inaugurated an annual series of exhibitions. The first year ten artists were commissioned to create new works addressing the “vivid historical and visual qualities of the Anchorage,” including the barrel vaulted ceilings and massive masonry piers housing the bridge’s cables." (link)

It’s great to see that art can bring life to a beautiful old maritime building, one that harbors so many memories and stories about New York’s rich maritime heritage.

Share this post :