Forrest Rodts’s vivid, evocative paintings of Nantucket are the next best thing to being there.
Poise, charm, and movie-star looks almost landed Forrest Rodts on the big screen. Bearing a striking resemblance to the young Dick Van Dyke, he was living the life of an actor in New York when he found that for him the visual arts were more satisfying—and a more reliable source of income— than the performing arts. “I was always artistic and liked to draw but didn’t start painting until college,” says Rodts, who is based in Marblehead, where he specializes in sweeping landscapes and marine vistas, with his acrylic-on-board works selling for between $7,500 and $40,000. An exhibit of his new seascapes will run for one week at Nantucket’s Quidley & Company gallery starting July 10.
After graduating from Hobart College with a degree in economics and a minor in fine art, Rodts first worked in investment banking. “It wasn’t for me,” he says. (Translation: He despised it.) But he loved the arts and began pursuing an acting career. Between auditions he would set up his easel and quickly discovered how naturally painting came to him. “I really started to love to paint and soon realized that it was a better career for me.”
Although his family moved often when Rodts was growing up, summers on Nantucket remained a constant. “It’s one of my favorite places in this world,” he says. In fact, the artist can trace his roots to the Grey Lady’s earliest settlers, and from the start of his career the island has been his muse. Glossy waves licking the ’Sconset shore, an electric red sunset at Surfside Beach, the windswept dunes of Madaket—Rodts’s vibrant canvases evoke all the sights and sounds and scents of Nantucket. His new paintings add a tinge of nostalgia.
“I have been trying to add more of my emotional context to the paintings,” he says. “For the last couple of years, I’ve been incorporating images of the island from the ’60s and ’70s, when I summered there as a kid. It was a simpler time back then, and hopefully my paintings speak to those who appreciate Nantucket for what it really is: raw, natural, simple magnificence.” July 10–16. Quidley & Company, 26 Main St., Nantucket, 508-228-4300