Nantucket Carving & Folk Art
Perched on the hill at 167 Orange Street you’ll find Nantucket Carving & Folk Art, where hundreds of quarterboards, dozens of signs, and carved mantles, whales, eagles, and other decorative pieces are drawn, carved, painted, and gilded. Downtown Nantucket is a portfolio of the work of Paul McCarthy and Jean Petty: signs for The Brotherhood of Thieves, Gypsy, Nantucket Brand, the Nantucket Historical Association, Easy Street, and 2 Union are just a few examples of their work. The stunning “Going on the Whale” carving that hangs outside the Nantucket Whaling Museum is yet another of their pieces. Their beautiful carvings also adorn many island homes, inside and out.Currently on display in their gallery workshop is a masterpiece that took Master Carver Paul McCarthy more than three years to complete. Carved to fit into the foyer of a private home here on the island, the 47.5-foot long carving, in four panels, depicts the voyage of a whaleship, from its departure in Nantucket Harbor to its return home. Waving banners narrate the voyage, with “Rounding the Point,” “The Nantucket Sleighride,” “Strait of Magellan,” “Coming on the Whale,” “The Kill,” “Cutting In,” “The Gam,” “Homeward Bound,” and “Journey’s End.”Relying on McCarthy’s vast historical knowledge, his research skills, and his impressive carving talent, theclient simply requested “the voyage of a whaleship,” leaving all the details to Paul. And what detail they got! The whaleships are rigged; there’s a mermaid figurehead on the prow and a tiny carved eagle on the transom; the water has seafoam; and you can see the grimaces on the faces of the whalemen rowing the whaleboat. McCarthy describes the carved panels as “a labor of love.”This masterful carving is a piece of Nantucket history, not only because of the story it tells, but
because it was handcarved by a Nantucket master carver. It’s hanging in Nantucket Carving &
Folk Art because the owner had to downsize: this gorgeous work is for sale. Stop by 167 Orange Street and let Paul and Jean show you this work of art. Perhaps a lover of art and of history would buy it and donate it to the Nantucket Historical Association? It would be an impressive addition to their collections and enable the public to enjoy it for years to come.