Boat mural celebrates Eastport's maritime history


AN ARTIST NORMALLY does his thing in a chilly garret, alone with his muse and a blank canvas. Cindy Fletcher Holden did her most recent work on a busy public street in Annapolis in front of a parade of sidewalk superintendents, critics and kibitzers.

Her canvas was a cinder-block wall at Fourth Street and Chesapeake Avenue, 1,530 square feet on the side of a furniture warehouse.

"Cindy's Mural," as it's being called, depicts about 30 boats that were designed, built or made prominent in Eastport.

On the left is Chessie, a craft based in the area that was entered in the Whitbread Round-the-World Race.

The America is in the distance; the inspiration for the America's Cup, it died in an Eastport shed that collapsed under wet snow a half-century ago.

A 70-foot Trumpy, once acclaimed "the Rolls Royce of yachts," dominates the the painting.

There's the original Pride of Baltimore, designed nearby, and a World War II PT boat, one of scores built just blocks away.

Cindy put her signature on the wall with a little dedication ceremony Saturday, ending a month-and-a-half of work. The mural will be clear-coated for protection, and then she will assemble a packet of prints and posters for sale.

She received help from a number of people -- Alderman Ellen Moyer, local historian Mike Miron, Peg Wallace of the Barge House Museum, Peter Tasi, Marilyn Hendrickson, Robert Lee and Mike Wolinski. Others like Leon Wolfe, who has cut hair on Fourth Street since the 1930s, offered their suggestions.

There was no end of advice: Where are the Canada geese? What about such-and-such boat? Can you put my boat up there?

"Sometimes their advice was heeded," Cindy said.

"For some, I had to explain that boats had to fall into a certain category, that they had to be held to the theme."

Cindy, a straightforward, cheery sort, acknowledged that she was flattered by the attention and not bothered by all the interruptions.

"Cars stopping, cars honking, babies walking, people with dogs, even an airplane wagged its wings," she said. The pilot was friend Mike Raab, who helped with the scaffolding.

"I probably spent more time thinking about it," she said. "The painting part goes really fast."

She baffled some onlookers by "sinking," or eliminating, some boats. "I moved or enlarged eight boats. I spent 3 hours on one, stood back, took one look and said, 'Yuck.' It took me 20 minutes to do it right."

Her planning is evident in the action on the water. The wind is out of the south, blowing right to left; the sun is on the viewer's shoulder, maybe midday.

Her father, D. W. "Cap'n Red" Fletcher, who died this summer, is there, holding up a rockfish in Larry Belkov's power boat -- a re-creation of a "Hooper Island draketail" vessel. Her husband Robert is aboard, as are Moyer and others.

Cindy had to be persuaded to include herself: She's the redhead on the windsurfer. "It doesn't seem that big to me now," she said of her work.

"I think I would like to do a four-story building the next time."

For the kids

The Shady Side Rural Heritage Society, whose restoration work was noted in the "Anne Arundel's Legacy" program aired last week on Maryland Public Television, will stage its Children's Tree Decorating Party from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 5.

Festivities in the free event will be at the Captain Salem Avery House Museum on Shady Side Road. Pupils at Shady Side Elementary School and members of the Girl Scouts are making ornaments.

Information: 410-867-2866.

Tip Line

If you have information for the South County report, call Amy Oakes at 410-315-8936 during the day or leave a message on the tip line after hours.

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