Nantucket Island Artists Capture the Colors of the Sea

Carolina Fernandez
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“Ahh! Nantucket in August”

Visiting the island of Nantucket in December—a splendid time to schedule a spontaneous holiday excursion—might find you light-hearted and in the mood for celebration. Yet with head tingling in search of a wool cap, hands begging for warm hiding places, and neck and shoulders aching from unnatural hunching in an effort to preserve both good spirits and heat, you might find yourself yearning for a visit to this magical island in the kinder month of August.

Ahh! Nantucket in August. Strolling down Washington Street’s emerging “antiques row,” your stride is now slow and thoughtful; your hands damp and sticky from dripping homemade ice cream in freshly-baked cones; your head and shoulders hunched more comfortably, as you wistfully peek inside one and then another and yet another charming gallery or shop dotting this remarkable island in the middle of the northern Atlantic.

One could not stray too far before stumbling upon the newly-renovated Meridian Galleries. Situated in the heart of the historic downtown art and design district, it houses one of the finest collections of landscape and marine art of the Northeast and indeed, along the “Meridian line” extending from Maine to Florida. Owner Robert Cullinane, who was classically-trained as a graphic designer and today works professionally designing everything from corporate logos to brochures, websites to branding strategies, has taken his keen eye for proportion, color, line and image, in creating the gallery’s space and curating the works he has chosen to highlight in this busiest tourist month of Nantucket’s year: August. More specifically, Cullinane features women artists of Nantucket, whose primarily marine-themed oils, watercolors and pastels fill his stunningly beautiful space in the island’s historic district. “I wanted to bring to light the work of these women artists to a collecting public who, traveling from places across the United States and abroad, might not be exposed otherwise to this talented group. They all live or work on the island and tend to gravitate to the areas for which New England—and Nantucket in particular—are most known for, namely rural landscapes and marine themes. It has always been my intention to fill this gallery with works of artists who live, work and play in our spaces, both on land and on the sea.”

Specifically, Cullinane collects the works of Yasemin Tomakan, a noted colorist and impressionist living in Greenwich, Connecticut but summering in Nantucket, who plays with her favorite images, namely, sailboats on the island’s deep blue waters, with a gentle-handed sensibility. Her decades’ long lifestyle on the water is captured in her accurately—yet soothing—portrayal of life at sea in her carefully edited oils, the only medium in which she works. Beginning at the age of eleven, when her parents first recognized her innate talent, she studied at the National Academy of Fine Arts and graduated from the prestigious Cooper Union in New York City. Her oils are on display at the gallery, although most of her work is sold as soon as it enters the space.

2Red Sails in Late Afternoon
by Yasemin Tomakan
13 x 18 in.
Oil on Canvas

2bArriving Nantucket Harbor, Summer ‘08
by Yasemin Tomakan
30 x 34 in.
Oil on Canvas

Extensive world travel, in addition to rigorously pursued exploits in competitive sailing, give painter Lisa Horrigan’s work a realistic aesthetic. Indeed, time spent studying in Tokyo and Kyoto bring a clean, Eastern quality to her work, while years spent painting en plein air on the streets of Philadelphia add a spontaneous quality to her representation of her favorites subjects, including life at sea and the rural landscapes of New England. Today, her paintings are worked from her studio in West Thompson, Connecticut and held in private collections in the United Sates, England and Switzerland.

3Raising Spinnakers Off Rocky Point
by Yasemin Tomakan
14 x 16 in.
Oil on Canvas

4In the Veer by Lisa Horrigan
18 x 24 in.
oil on linen

5Alerions by Lisa Horrigan
11 x 14 in.
oil on linen

6The Fishing Pot by Joann Ballinger
16 x 20 in.
Pastel on Sandpaper

Capturing the alluring and fleeting moments of childhood fancies, pastel artist Joann Balinger works deeply hued purples and blues onto sandpaper, creating works that kindle a yearning for slower and simpler times; in their strictest essence, they capture Nantucket in August. Widely acclaimed for her ability to use light, color and form in this medium, her work as a classically-trained artist of the impressionist movement of Old Lyme and Norwich has garnered critical acclaim and is widely held in private and corporate collections around the world.

7Through the Rocky by Joann Ballinger
9 x 11 in.
Pastel on Sandpaper

If a trip to Nantucket is on your bucket list, consider a visit during August. For ahh! Nantucket in August is heaven on earth, a place to behold with not only your spirit, but with your body and artistic sensibilities as well.

by Carolina Fernandez, Contributing Writer

To view the collection or to schedule a private appointment, contact Mr. Cullinane at the gallery: 508.228.9821. 258 Washington Street, Nantucket, MA 02584 Online:


  1. Kathy Arcano October 23, 2009 12:38 pm

    The vibrant color and energy in the womens’ work– truly apt gifts from the sea– as well as Carolina’s lively description, make me wish I could jump the next Nantucket-bound ferry! Does anyone have the departure schedule?!?


  2. Carolina Fernandez October 27, 2009 3:50 pm

    Thank you, Kathy! How about hopping a ferry together next August. Nantucket in August–any August–is always good. Cheers!

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