Did You Know? (Irene Wisnewski)

That artist, Irene Wisnewski first came to Rocky Neck in the summer of 1974 from Syosset, Long Island, NY and returned to a gallery space on Rocky Neck every summer for almost 30 years?  She occupied the gallery at 77 Rocky Neck, G3 (now Khan Studio and the Good Morning Gloucester Gallery) until 1999; left for a few years and then returned again to G3 for a couple of years after Carol St. John left.  She originally was primarily an oil painter, painting Goose Pond water lilies and scenes, and then each winter would learn a new medium – mastering handmade paper, collagraph prints, acrylic and collage painting.  She spent her winters in FL traveling from Palm Beach to Key West doing the outdoor art show circuit.  Irene, now 81, lives in Tubac, AZ, still paints in acrylic; however currently does more abstract painting and collage.  This was Irene’s first return trip to Gloucester since 2004.  It was really great to meet her and get to know an artist who was part of the history of Rocky Neck, particularly one who spent so much time in the space so many of us have really enjoyed this summer.

E.J. Lefavour


9 thoughts on “Did You Know? (Irene Wisnewski)

  1. We fell in love with Irene’s artwork back in 1994 and have since then bought several of her paintings. They give us great pleasure.
    She is a terrific person.
    Nice to know that she keeps in touch with Gloucester.


  2. I have three of Irene’s works which I obtained from her while she spent summers on Rocky Neck. They are treasures. I am really happy to have found this article.


    1. Contact me if you want to get in touch with your cousin Dan. Just google Alice the Berkeley Beekeeper and you will find my contact info.


  3. I was searching the internet for my mother Gloria Rosenthal, when I thought to search for Irene. It’s wonderful to see this article. Irene and my mom were very very good friends for decades, starting in the 1950’s when both of them found themselves living in the suburb of Syosset, NY. My mom was an only child and Irene was the closest I ever got to having an aunt. My older sister used to play with Irene’s son Danny when they were little and they went all the way from elementary to high school together. I think the two women were pregnant at the same time on several occasions. Both being creative women filled with inspiration and energy, they took some art classes together and talked about art. They probably visited museums together when I was in school. They both started to enter local art shows around the same time and had booths near each other so they could support each other. Like scrapping sisters, some times they would get angry with each other but always made up and remained friends for life (wether they were talking or not). My mother discovered the Rocky Neck Art Colony in 1968 on a family trip to Fundy National Park in Canada and introduced Irene to “the wharf” where they both eventually had galleries. Both Irene and mom loved dogs and walked their dogs together to the old paint factory and they both took dinner breaks with their dogs at Braces Cove Beach from 5pm to 7pm on hot summer evenings. Both enjoyed a glass of wine together alone and with others around the piano bars on Rocky Neck in East Gloucester. I have vivid memories of Irene talking to her and our dogs in her special voice until they cocked their heads to try to understand what she was saying. She loved to talk about the “knowledge bump” on top of dogs head and preach about how smart dogs are. Another fond memory springs to my mind. Around 9pm, I would walk past the flower boxes filled with periwinkle, violets, petunias & geraniums, to the harbor side window of the Lobster House to say, “good night” to my mom & dad & Irene singing around the piano bar and they all had big smiles on their faces. Now I live in California and Irene’s son Danny lives here too. A few years ago I found Danny and went to visit him in the Russian River area where he lives. I brought him a jar of honey (I am a beekeeper in Berkeley, CA) and asked about his mom. He told me that his mom was very active living part time with him and in Arizona. She drove an RV back and forth with her canine companion. One year on her way to Arizona, something went wrong and she drove off the road and had a fatal crash. I think Dan told me she was in Los Angeles at the time. Though Irene no longer walks on this earth, she still walks in many of our hearts and upon our walls if you are one of the lucky ones to own a piece of her art.


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