(July 13, 2023) As a painter, illustrator and newspaper publisher, Jim Adcock has quietly been one of the most influential figures in the Ocean Pines community over the last three decades.
His fingerprints remained, until recently, in the Bayside Gazette through publication of original weekly cartoons, and his vibrant, beachy paintings are ubiquitous with local art, capturing everything from Thrasher’s French Fries and Fisher’s Popcorn, to the Ocean Pines Yacht Club and Golf Clubhouse.
This week, Adcock announced that he is retiring from his cartoon contributor position in the Gazette, leaving behind a longtime legacy.
Start the presses
Adcock grew up in Baltimore, graduated from the prestigious Maryland Institute College of Arts, and worked as a schoolteacher and commercial artist before moving to Ocean Pines in the 1990s.
On the Eastern Shore, he got involved with a company called Coastal Images that both put his artistic talents to good use and gave him a crash course in publishing.
In 1998, he founded the Ocean Pines Gazette newspaper that would later become the Bayside Gazette.
“I was working for different publishers and freelancing. And I thought to myself, I really don’t like the newspapers in Ocean Pines,” Adcock said. “I thought I could put one together if I got an editor and some other people to work on it, so that’s what I did. I launched the paper and then spent the next seven years behind a computer.”
It became something of a family affair, as Adcock’s late wife, Edie Brennan, wrote a social column for the paper and his sister-in-law, Kristy McDonald, wrote the weekly cooking column.
Brennan was one of the original Ocean Pines residents and salespeople, selling lots in the community since the early 1970s. She received a Coastal Realtors Lifetime Achievement award in 2015.
“I had no idea that either one of them were such good writers,” Adcock said. “And this thing was really popular. We were getting invitations to parties and we didn’t even know these people! It was just a wild ride for a long time.”
He recalled that the endeavor had different results on finances for the couple.
“Looking back, I realized I didn’t make very much money, but my wife made a pile of money [in real estate]!” Adcock added.
Adcock sold the paper to Elaine Brady and the company that published Ocean City Today in 2004. Up until the week, he produced weekly columns.
“I was very fortunate to sell the newspaper at a time when other papers were folding,” Adcock said. “And I was very fortunate to get an offer from Ocean City Today to really pay off my debts, and that’s when I decided to go back to painting.”
From publisher to painter
Adcock turned his attention toward freelancing and commission work, focusing especially on capturing the essence of Ocean City.
He started at the inlet and the Boardwalk, but said he was less attracted to the aesthetics and more to the intangibles that drew people to the resort.
“I realized very quickly that the architecture really leaves something to be desired,” he said. “The people are there for the food and for the rides. So, I concentrated on that – whatever tourists will remember, whether it’s a bar or the food they loved or the haunted house. People want to take that memory home with them.”
Over the years, Adcock said he’s refined his approach to painting that now has as much to do with character as aesthetics.
“I really enjoy doing local themes,” he said. “And I have a certain pattern when I get a commission. Whether it’s a house or a bar or a restaurant, I’ll go look at it, and I’ll sit down and talk to the bartender. It’s a method so that, when I get ready to paint, I really have a background. I’ve been inside and I’ve gotten to the know the place a little.”
Among his favorite painters, Adcock named Edward Hopper, Wayne Thiebaud, Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, and the Impressionists.
Locally, he’s a fan of people like Deborah Rolig, Patrick Henry, Kirk McBride, Elaine Bean, and Megan Burak.
He also spoke highly of the Art League of Ocean City, a group that helped him feel at home, despite being a transplant from “over the bridge.”
“I think the Art League is one of the most vital parts of the community, as far as their outreach for all ages and the energy that they put into the community,” he said.
Adcock plans to head back to Assateague Island soon to capture more of the beachy scenery and local wildlife there.
He’s also moving his home and studio from Bishopville to St. Martin’s by the Bay.
Living and working in the Pines
Adcock said Ocean Pines was a little crowded when he first moved there, but there was always plenty to do and see.
“There’s a vibrant community – that’s always been true,” he said. “There may have been different clubs or politics that dominated, but there’s always been something to do if you’re looking for it. It’s always been like that.”
He said the single biggest change during his time happened when the Matt Ortt Companies were brought in to manage Ocean Pines’ food and beverage operations.
“In all the history of bad things, that was the shining star,” he said. “They came along and turned everything around. That was a really great thing.”
He compared the yacht club, with its large, open waterfront patio that each summer draws in thousands of residents and visitors, to “the basis for European architecture.”
“It’s a wonderful space for all these people to go, and it’s very, very important for people to gather,” he said.
Adcock, the editorial cartoonist, said he enjoyed contributing to the Bayside Gazette – but it was occasionally something of a tightrope act. Over the years, he’s lambasted scores of local politicians, including many Ocean Pines Board members.
“I really have to be careful. I have to find out my sources and I have to do research, so that I don’t look bad,” he said. “[Former Board member] Marty Clarke was one of my favorite guys to cover, and he’s got my cartoons going up the staircase to his second floor. It’s quite an honor.”
Adcock is also regular contributor to the Ocean Pines Report quarterly newsletter. Some of his commission work is featured in the Ocean Pines Administration Board Room, and in the pages of this issue.
To contact Adcock about a commission, call 410-726- 2440, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit adcockstudio.com.