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On My Watch: Celebrating Painter of Place

From the Greenwich Sentinel by Anne W. Semmes

Imagine having two galleries filled with your paintings, then adding a third in an historic boatyard that you fill with over 40 of your paintings, many of them celebrating the seascapes and landscapes of our town. The artist is our own Peter Arguimbau, who welcomed us last Friday to his new work in his second Arguimbau Art showing in The Boatyard in Riverside.

Where Peter Arguimbau welcomed me last Friday past sundown in Riverside is no ordinary boatyard, though it’s situated along Long Meadow Creek where kayaks come and go. “The Boatyard” building has earned its name, certainly from the 1930’s when Ole Amundsen made it into Riverside’s local boatyard. But the building goes back to the 1850’s, though when you step inside it feels brand new with its pristine white walls restoration, aglow with Arguimbau’s luminous oils.

Enjoying one of those luminous landscapes was Chris and Rachel Franco who share the first floor space of the Boatyard they restored and own. Their offices face the Creek and Peter’s Arguimbau Art gallery faces Riverside Avenue. And the painting they’re taking in with its heron and meadow, and sailboat and sea is entitled, “Sunrise off Elias Point, Riverside, 26 x 46, said to be located further out the Riverside coastline.

Restorer Chris Franco, on left, and artist Peter Arguimbau, on right, stand beside Arguimbau’s ”Sunrise off Elias Point, Riverside,” at a reception held in Arguimbau Art gallery in The Boatyard, Riverside.

“Rachel and I love having Peter and [wife] Kim sharing our Boatyard and Peter’s fabulous art gracing the walls of the gallery space,” shared Chris. “We have long admired Peter’s paintings – we have two in our home – but it wasn’t until Peter started showing his art at the Boatyard that we really got to know them. We consider Peter and Kim to be great friends, and hope everyone will come to the Boatyard to see Peter’s fabulous work.”

As Peter walked me by his landscapes, marines, seascapes with sunsets, animal paintings and portraits – as Kim teased with delectable vittles – I paused by small paintings of “Ole’s Creek” (Long Meadow Creek), “Greenwich Point” and “Tod’s Point.” It’s Tod’s Point that Peter and Chris use for Greenwich Point (as in the Greenwich Point Conservancy Chris founded). “The old townies called it Tod’s Point,” noted a relatively young Chris, with a smile.

A painting of “Scott’s Cove” stops me. Isn’t that where Anne Morrow Lindbergh lived and wrote, I ask. “That’s where I grew up, told Peter, “It’s in Darien. You see that island, that’s Contentment Island, where John Frederick Kensett, master painter of the Hudson River School lived and died.” And then his tale was told of the unfortunate rescue bringing Kensett’s death.

Reaching the rear of the gallery, with Peter off welcoming his guests, I spied local artist Frank Smurlo, Jr. eyeing the “Statue of Liberty” painting with its amazing sailboat and American flag sail. And then, there was Bill Baker gazing about. The former chief of New York’s Channel 13, who lives nearby, was astonishing with what he’s up to in his “retirement.”

Heading for the door, I discovered the angel painting in the portrait area. “It’s called “Acceptance,” said Peter joining me. And yes, he still has those religious paintings in his backcountry Red Barn studio and gallery. (His other Mariner Gallery is in Newport, RI)

Stepping outside Peter speaks of his and Kim’s appreciation of the Franco’s “having created this masterful renovation of a Riverside icon,” of their being able “to exhibit local Riverside scenes” among Peter’s other works in The Boatyard. “It is an honor,” he said, “to be in the heart of this very special community.”

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