Dancing With Water

The Nines Art Gallery, new in Harwich Port, showcases stunning sea-inspired paintings and photography

Text by Lisa Leigh Connors | Photography by Michael and Suz Karchmer

Larger-than-life paintings of glass bottles and the ocean—inspired by the waters of Chatham—hang by invisible fishing line on white brick walls at The Nines Art Gallery in Harwich Port. Welcome to the fresh, new and inviting space on Main Street.

But it wasn’t always this way. When artist Lauren DiFerdinando first visited the old building in the spring, she nearly walked out because the space was in such disrepair. Fortunately, her boyfriend and inspiration, Chatham fisherman Luther Bates of Bates Woodwork and handyman extraordinaire, helped her whip the space into shape. The couple worked day and night pulling down green bead board, repairing and spray painting the tin ceiling of 344 squares and exposed brick, installing new lighting and refinishing the wood floors, which were covered with carpet for decades. They only had two months to get it ready for Memorial Day weekend.

Artist Lauren DiFerdinando and photographer and fisherman Luther Bates beautifully renovated the space for The Nines Art Gallery. For her ocean paintings, DiFerdinando works from photographs taken by Bates while fishing at sea to get that on-the-water feeling.

“People seem to love to hang out here,” says DiFerdinando, who moved her original gallery from Dennis Port and changed the name from Tint to The Nines Art Gallery. The reason for the name change? “People kept thinking I was saying ‘tin’ most of the time,” says the artist, with a laugh, who is originally from Pennsylvania.

DiFerdinando’s paintings of bottles—mostly flea-market finds—are so soothing and eye-catching. What makes simple bottles so intriguing and appealing is the way DiFerdinando crops and paints them on a larger-than-life scale. “You feel like you’re in the space rather than looking at a still life,” says DiFerdinando. They are challenging to paint, she says, because you have to capture the light just right.

Her series of bottles started with a painting of a round glass bowl when she was a student at Syracuse University. Even though she uses the same bottles every time, each painting is different because of the varied color palette. One is warmer and sharper with a stronger contrast, while another pulls the light into the bottle from the background.

“I was always so interested in the translucency of the bottles, the clear glass with a hint of blue,” says DiFerdinando. “It’s a beautiful way to showcase something that ties in with Cape Cod and the water, but it’s a little more unique than just doing the landscape paintings.”

Her latest work features a series of ocean paintings inspired by varying sea conditions in Chatham, captured first by Bates’ lens. DiFerdinando explains it was a natural transition going from bottles to painting the sea. “If you look at where the color is concentrated in the wave of the water, it’s very similar to the bottom of the bottle.”

DiFerdinando says she always wanted to paint the water, but from a different perspective. Rather than painting a beach landscape, her goal was to capture that feeling of being on the water. So, she asked Bates to start taking photographs last year during fishing season since he’s on the water six days a week. He happily obliged. Bates, who holds his camera as close as possible to sea level, says it challenged him to think about what would make a good photograph. “What kind of ocean conditions are interesting enough to bring home?” he would ask himself.

DiFerdinando and Bates have succeeded in bringing the ocean to life. As you stand in front of the painting, “Fluid,” it feels like you’re lost at sea, miles away from land—which, as Cape Codders know, isn’t always a bad thing.

Lauren DiFerdinando’s paintings range in size from 30 x 40 inches to 40 x 60 inches and are also available in prints and smaller versions on metal. Luther Bates makes all of the custom wood frames and his photographs are also on display. The Nines Art Gallery, 562 Main St., Harwich Port, 215-429-6993

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