The Star-News


Watercolors on the water

Sat, Sep 21 2013 12:00 PM Posted By: Robert Moreno

The South Bayfront Artists have to adhere to rules set forth on The Bill of Rights if they want their artwork seen by a wide audience.

The Bill of Rights the group is following, however, is not the nation’s 10 amendments to the Constitution, rather a 137-foot-long Schooner.

Members of the new South Bayfront Sailing Association put their money together to purchase the historic Bill of Rights for $100,000 from the Los Angeles Maritime Institute.

The boat was purchased more than a week ago.

Don Johnson, founder of the South Bayfront Artists, created the non-profit South Bayfront Sailing Association this year.

The association was created to benefit the public by offering programs centered around maritime history, art, science and industry.

“We are going to be tying art into sailing,” said Susan Johnson, a member of both non-profit groups and Don’s wife.

Although the South Bayfront Sailing Association owns the boat, the South Bayfront Artists will have access to it.

An opportunity arose to buy the vessel after a dispute between the owner and the leasee, said Johnson.

The freshly painted white ship is the place where the 125-member South Bayfront Artists will go to paint and showcase their art in a traveling form, or in art shows at the Chula Vista harbor’s parking lot.

Currently artists paint at their homes or meet up at a park and work there.

The ship is docked at the California Yacht Marina’s excursion dock on Marina Parkway.

The Art Kids of San Diego will also be invited to produce artwork aboard the boat, said Johnson.

“There are a variety of kinds of art work that can be performed aboard,” Don said.

Susan, a retired council aide to Chula Vista councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan, said the art group has big plans for the vessel.

One of those plans, she said, is to take a day cruise where the boat takes people out while they learn how to paint with the artists on board.

She also said she plans to take the vessel across to the Channel Islands for art exhibits.

The Bill of Rights is a 42-year-old replica of a 19th century schooner and has a nautical history. The ship paraded its way through the New York harbor during the 1976 bicentennial celebration when the Statue of Liberty was relit.

“This is one of the most famous schooners in America,” said sailing master for The Bill of Rights Doug Sherr.

“I don’t know why they named her that (The Bill of Rights) to begin with, but it was a big deal back East, and she’s always had that name,” Don said.

Susan  is no stranger to boating.

While teaching in England at the age of 24 she was talked into buying a boat and went sailing across the Atlantic.

Since then boating has been part of her life.

The Bill of Rights can hold up to 80 people, 35 during over- night trips.

Although the South Bayfront Artists have a boat for their art, Susan said finding an art gallery is still a priority.

“We still are looking for an actual physical gallery,” Susan said. “The Chula Vista Marina is still the headquarters for South Bayfront Artists.

It is not yet known when the  boat will debut for the artists, but Susan said it would be available for public viewing at HarborFest, Saturday, Sept. 21.


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