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Gone to Carolina: Rescued from guilt

Practicing heaving the line at Emerald Isle Coast Guard Search and Rescue

Practicing heaving the line at Emerald Isle Coast Guard Search and Rescue

Concerning the subject of vacations, every year, without fail, I hear my thoughts and they sound shrill.

“I just want to go to the beach,” my inner-five year-old screams. But like so many parents, I become immune to this noise.

My rational inner adult says (note I do not say higher-self), “Not now, sweetheart, you have family to see and friends to visit. And you just did a fun workshop in Santa Fe two months ago.”

My inner 5-year-old: To the first part – I don’t feel like being around people and Santa Fe seems like a long time ago.

She even pouts.

My adult self: Now, now (yes, she says that). Maybe next year if you are good, we’ll plan something.

And the conversation continues and repeats. Usually the adult wins. – but not this time.

Ken came to the rescue. He researched the beaches around Beaufort, North Carolina, and found a delightful, efficiency cottage in the heart of town. He remembered I have high regards for this little town, equating it to Solomons Island in Maryland (where we met). Even though the former came into my consciousness years ago when I went for a job interview there. Though the job thing did not work out, there is a lot I like about Beaufort.

And then to assuage my guilt, he made plans to do photo references at a Coast Guard base nearby for a potential new painting. For me this means being a volunteer photo consultant for him. I tag along, shoot reference back up, monitor the changing light to maintain correct exposures for all cameras, and help keep a general consistency of light throughout the session. The great thing about doing this photo reference work is twofold. One – I am actually helpful. Two – it is a rocking excuse to go to the beach. This makes my 5-year-old self smile.

Ken is involved with the Coast Guard Art Program (COGAP). If you are not familiar with it, it showcases those who participate in this branch of the armed forces. These people are brave, kind, and I am sure have a serious challenge in sustaining the peace and safety of those who use U.S. waterways. COGAP sometimes deploys (depending the size of the base) or allows selected artists to creatively document many aspects of Coast Guard activity.

In return, paintings selected each year are shown at the Salmagundi Art Club in New York City, and are then permanently included in the COGAP Collection. From these, many paintings are on exhibit in different shows all over the United States. Artists are required to donate selected paintings to the collection.

There is also the presentation of the George Grey Award for Artistic Excellence, given to one artist each year. For this, the COGAP presents a beautiful plaque to the winning artist. Bragging moment – Ken has won this award three times.

Sometimes the Coast Guard Station or COGAP will provide photo references to artists, but in Ken’s case, he has gone to several bases to do his own (stations in California, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan and now North Carolina). I hope Ken will share some of his process or thoughts about this on his blog.

About our holiday? I will spare you the details, but suffice to say – Beaufort is a phenomenal and special place (eye, matey, the Queen Anne’s Revenge is nearby or rather, the archeological site). I will, in the near future, share one adventure we had, but I need to let the images set for a while first. It involves wild horses. Oh, and of course, I believe my Instagram account will include many, many images from this trip.

Click on the links to learn more about:

The Coast Guard Art Project
Ken’s previous COGAP paintings (and other people)
Beaufort, North Carolina



The Unwinding Path is the blog of L.S. King – photographer, want-to-be printmaker and sometimes hypnotist. By day she is an arts communications officer at a rural university (translation: photographer, writer, and media content provider), and most of the rest of her time she is an MFA graduate student at Radford University.


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