Vibrant red cranberries floating in a Cataumet bog, a majestic sailboat slicing the unruly waters of Nantucket Sound, a winding river encompassed by a snowy marsh—these are just a few of the stunning vistas in the work of Falmouth artist Karen Rinaldo.
As a child growing up in Worcester, Rinaldo was captivated by color and design and knew at an early age that art would be her calling. She took classes at the Worcester Art Museum and later at the Cape Cod Conservatory.
Rinaldo moved to Cape Cod in 1971 and opened her working studio and gallery in Falmouth the following year. “Cape Cod was always an attractive place for me, with the light and the landscape,” she says. “Even today, despite all the commercialization, you still have those pockets of the real Cape Cod that people remember going back decades. This special quality is something that I try to preserve in my work.”
Rinaldo tinkers with a variety of paints from watercolors, to pastels, to oils, to acrylics, letting the subject dictate the medium. Her choice of subjects is also wide ranging. From iconic Cape vistas, such as Falmouth’s sun-swept marshes and harbors, to representations of historical events, Rinaldo masterfully renders her scenes through expressive colors and precise details. In the early 1990s, she was commissioned to create a historically accurate painting of the first Thanksgiving in 1621. Over the course of seven months, she dedicated herself to this one piece, and the painting was part of the collection at Plimoth Plantation for over 20 years.The piece now resides at Olivet College in Michigan.
Rinaldo treasures the region’s vulnerable landscape, and the role of artists in helping to preserve it. “I feel blessed to work in a place so beautiful. And as an artist, I have an opportunity to make a lasting contribution with my paintings. I’m passionate about recording Cape Cod as we see it today.”
She also relishes being able to inspire people, to take them out of their day-to-day routines. “It goes to the heart of what I care about so much,” she says. “I think art is transformative and lets people see things they truly take for granted every day.”
Rinaldo calls painting her “oxygen.” But the most rewarding part of her work, she says, is sharing that oxygen with others. – Lillian Lowe
Karen Rinaldo’s work is available at her studio and gallery at 227 Clinton Avenue in Falmouth, overlooking Falmouth Harbor.