“When you go into the Woods” solo art exhibition by Vanessa Michalak opens Oct. 2nd at Jane Deering Gallery

“When you go into the Woods: Dogtown and other treasures of the forest”, a solo exhibition by Vanessa Michalak, opens October 2, 2018 at Jane Deering Gallery Gloucester, Massachusetts. Reception 6-8pm on October 6th.

VANESSA VICHALAK Fallen Tree oil on yupo mounted on panel_40 x 60_ Jane Deering Gallery solo show October 2018 Gloucester Mass
Vaness Michalak, “Fallen Tree,” oil on yupo mounted on panel, 40”x60”

jdg oct 2018

Read more about the exhibition and the artist from printed matter announcing the show:

“When you go into the Woods,” features oil paintings by Vanessa Michalak highlighting some of Cape Ann’s well known gems. Works depict imagery of a variety of places including Annisquam Village, Lanesville’s Vernon Quarries and Babson’s Dogtown boulders. The exhibition will be on display throughout October at Jane Deering Gallery, Gloucester, MA with and opening reception scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 6th from 6pm-8pm.

The Exhibition, “When You Go Into The Woods” is a reflection of Michalak’s exploration of Cape Ann and her ongoing investigation of the painting process. The works reflect a fascination with a specific place and its hidden treasures. Many of the works are plein air paintings that brought her to the edges of quarries and sent her trekking through Dogtown’s rocky paths. As much as these works pay tribute to a specific place, they also reflect Michalak’s gestural painting style that at times borders on abstraction. Much like her wanderings in the woods, there is a sense that she doesn’t mind getting a little lost in brushwork, layering and mark before finding her destination. 

Vanessa Michalak grew up in Maine before moving to Boston where she lived and worked for over a decade. While living in Boston she visited Cape Ann often and eventually moved to Gloucester last year. She received an MFA in painting from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in 2013. Residencies include: Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass Village, CO; Emerging Artist-in-Residence, Penn State, PA;  and Playa, Summer Lake, OR. Michalak’s work was featured in New American Paintings #110 and Fresh Paint Magazine (cover artist 2014). She was selected as a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow in Painting in 2014.spring woods Annisquam 2018.jpg.png Continue reading ““When you go into the Woods” solo art exhibition by Vanessa Michalak opens Oct. 2nd at Jane Deering Gallery”

Holiday markets and fairs |Annisquam Sewing Circle, Rocky Neck, Cape Ann Artisans, Rockport Art Association

save the date Reminders:

  • Annisquam Sewing Circle Christmas Fair, Satuday Dec 2 ONLY 8am-noon
  • Rockport Art Association – Cape Ann Artisans Dec 1 (4-9) & Dec 2 (10-5)
  • Rocky Neck 2017 Annual Holiday Show at the Cultural Center weekends through December 10th

Rocky Neck 2017 Holiday Show

“December in November–Giving the Gift of Art” Rocky Neck Art Colony members’ fine art and crafts sale, through December 10th, OPEN Fridays 5-8pm, Saturdays and Sundays 10AM-4PM. Downstairs is a beautiful John Nesta tribute.

photo caption: Orginal watercolor painting, Birch on the Neck, by Deb Schradieck, booth at the Rocky Neck Art Colony 2017 Annual Holiday members show



Rockport Art Association


TWO DAYS ONLY Cape Ann Artisans at the Rockport Art Association Friday December 1 and Saturday December 2nd (10-5). Cape Ann Artisans has also announced their special 2018 Cape Ann Artisan tour dates- June 2nd and 3rd and Oct 6-8

Cape Ann Artisans at Rockport Art Association


Annisquam Sewing Circle Christmas Fair

Sat Dec 2nd 8am-noon, 34 Leonard Street, Gloucester, MA 01930

  • Beautiful Wreaths to decorate your Home
  • Potted plants and bulbs to Give or to Keep
  • Elegant Table Arrangements
  • Gourmet Foods for your Guests and Family
  • Exquisite Hand-crafted Gift Items
  • $3 Grabs for Mom, Dad and your Favorite Pets wrapped and ready to go!

Annisquam Sewing Circle Flyer.png


7PM tonight | Dogtown National Heritage project kicks off at Gloucester city hall

Reminder-  Dogtown could be eligible for the National Register. A team of archaeologists began surveying and reviewing Dogtown the week of November 13. Come to a special public presentation TONIGHT – November 29th in Kyrouz Auditorium, Gloucester City Hall, 9 Dale Avenue, at 7pm.

 Artistic practice inspired by Dogtown takes on many forms across generations and centuries. I’ve shown examples of 20th century artists and writers connected to Dogtown. Here’s a 21st century one to note: Deborah Guertze, Babson Boulders # (Courage), original small and lovely hand colored etching, ed.50. This particular impression is currently for sale at Rockport Art Association.

Oct 28 GMG post announcing tonight’s public meeting: Before Dogtown was Dogtown: archaeological survey project to be presented at City Hall November 29! Maybe hello blueberries bye bye lyme disease

“Presenters at City Hall on Nov 29th will include Betsy Friedberg from the Massachusetts Historical Commission, who will explain how the National Register program works and what it does and does not do, and Kristen Heitert from the PAL, who will present an initial plan for defining the boundaries of Dogtown as a National Register District. People attending the meeting will be asked to respond to that plan and to express their views about what makes Dogtown special. What should be the boundaries of the proposed National Register District, and what cultural features should be included in it? What would be the benefits of National Register status, and are there any drawbacks?”

Dogtown and Babson Boulders

dogtown montage copy

dogtown montage2 copy

I’ve never built a stone wall, but creating this montage gave me an idea what it is like, without the heavy lifting.  The boulders have been placed along the road leading from the Cherry Street entrance to Dogtown Road.  There is one I couldn’t fit in – as with all stone walls, some rocks just don’t fit, and there is one I created which is not a Babson boulder.  Can anyone identify the missing boulder, and which one doesn’t belong?  Also, I did two versions and would be interested in knowing which one people like better, assuming you like them.  The second version has the denser woods of Ravenswood in the background.  They both contain the same boulders, but are placed a little differently in the 2nd version.

In case you didn’t know, Millionaire philanthropist, Roger Ward Babson (1875-1967), provided charitable assistance to unemployed stonecutters in Gloucester during the Great Depression, by commissioing them to carve these inspirational inscriptions on two dozen boulders in the area surrounding Dogtown Common.  While the inscriptions are clearly visible, the boulders are scattered, not all are on the trail, and not all of the inscriptions face the trail, making finding them something of a challenge.  There are an additional three boulders which are location or direction markers and are informational, not inspirational.

Babson was interested in the history of the abandoned settlement in Gloucester known as Dogtown.  Dogtown (also Dogtown Commons or Dogtown Village) is located in a densely
wooded area of about five square miles, or 3,600 acres, in central Gloucester stretching from the Riverdale section of the city, north of Route 128, into Rockport, and includes
Goose Cove and the Babson Reservoir.  Once known as the Common Settlement and populated by respectable citizens, it was for a century the most prosperous part of Gloucester.  

Dogtown’s development and prosperity lasted from about 1650 until 1750. During this time, the area was home to many of Gloucester’s most prominent families, and since it was directly connected by road to all of Cape Ann’s seashore communities, the Commons Settlement, as it was called, was a thriving and successful hub of agriculture, timbering, and transportation.  The peak of its population has been estimated at around one hundred families.

After new coastal roads were opened, and especially after the conclusion of the War of 1812 and its attendant risk of coastal bombardment, most farmers moved away from Dogtown.  Their abandoned houses were for a few decades occupied by itinerants and vagabonds, giving the area its bad reputation. Many of the widows of sea-goers and soldiers
who never returned kept dogs for protection and company. As these last inhabitants died, their pets became feral and wild, roaming the moors and howling, possibly giving rise to
the nickname “Dogtown”. 

Most of the area of Dogtown is now a dense woodland, peppered with house-sized boulders, criss-crossed and bisected by trails and old roads.  The area is held in trust by
Gloucester and Rockport and therefore protected in perpetuity. Dogtown Road off of Cherry Street in the western section (the Gloucester side) is lined with the remains of the
cellar holes of the settlers.  Babson also mapped and numbered the cellar holes left from the homes of Dogtown’s former residents.

(Excerpts taken from Babson College Archives – “Biography of Roger Ward  Babson” and Wikipedia)

If you decide to go on a search for the Babson boulders, Eric Bickernicks has created a wonderful map with GPS coordinates for all the boulders, which was how my sister and I found some of the more hidden ones.  You can find the map at http://www.bostonico.org/Babson_Boulder_Trail_Map.pdf.  There is one small error on the map, which caused us some confusion.  There is a boulder identified as “First at Tasks” which we thought an odd saying, and couldn’t find.  In fact it is “First Attacked” and marks the spot where Jas Merry was first attacked by his bull.  There is another marker nearby which identifies the spot where he died in 1892 from injuries sustained when the sport of wrestling his bull went bad.

E.J. Lefavour


Some Babson Boulders

The Babson Boulders are always good targets for a walk in the woods.

If you click on the photo Rubber Duck also visits, “Prosperity Follows Service”, orange blaze trail, rock on little rocks, RD takes a dip in the creek, “BEON TIME”, “Study”, cellar hole 22 and large cracked alien egg rock at the top of Tarr Trail.

What kind of time is BEON time? Just kidding. Really needs a space though. Captain Samuel Riggs son Joseph lived at #22.

FYI: being Sunday and all if you zoom in on Rubber Duck you can check out how she is styling with a beaded necklace from Beth Williams.

Did You Know (Spiritual Power)

Photo of Babson Boulder, Spiritual Power
Photo by E.J. Lefavour

That the grandest of the boulders that Roger Babson hired unemployed stonecutters to carve inspiring messages on is Spiritual Power? Babson knew, as do many people, that spiritual power resides in nature. A walk through the woods or along a deserted beach can calm even the most stressed or distraught person. In truth, spiritual power resides in everything, but it is when we can remove ourselves from the “issues” of life and be in the quiet, that answers can be found. It is often easiest to do this surrounded by the power and quiet of nature. Since coming here, many people have told me that Dogtown is a place to avoid, that bad things happen there, and people get lost in the woods. My sister and I got lost when we went on our trek, but we found our way back to the trail. Bad things can happen anywhere, but you don’t avoid the sea because people have drowned or been attacked by sharks there, or avoid the highway because people have been killed or injured in accidents there. Fear of something can ultimately be more dangerous than the thing we fear, because it cripples us and keeps us from experiencing the very thing that could set us free or provide the answers we seek. I could have heeded people’s warnings, made their fear my own, and not gone to Dogtown. I would have missed the magic of the place, finding and photographing the boulders, creating the Dogtown and Babson Boulders calendar, and being invited to give a talk at Babson College on Founder’s Day and have my photos included in their permanent art collection. Spiritual power exists all around us and is just waiting for us to listen to its still small voice.

E.J. Lefavour


Babson Boulder Kindness
Photo by E.J. Lefavour

Did you know?

That millionaire philanthropist, and 10th generation Gloucester inhabitant, Roger Ward Babson (1875-1967), provided charitable assistance to unemployed stonecutters in Gloucester during the Great Depression, by commissioning them to carve inspirational inscriptions on approximately two dozen boulders in the area surrounding Dogtown Common. This boulder is the one I chose for January’s image in my 2011 Dogtown and Babson Boulders calendar because I think the message is the most important one to start out any new year with. If we all resolve to spend the New Year performing random acts of kindness, what an amazing year 2011 will be.

E.J. Lefavour


2011 Dogtown and Babson Boulders Calendar Update

I have been getting calls from people looking for the calendars. I am out of them and won’t have more in until Christmas Eve Day – however, you can still get them at Joncien, 25 Bearskin Neck, Rockport (Leslie 978-546-9161), Dogtown Book Shop, 132 Main Street, Gloucester (Bob 978-281-5599), and at Toad Hall Bookstore, 47 Main Street, Rockport (978-546-7323), Willow Rest is out, but will have more on Friday. To all of you who have purchased the calendar, Thank You, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it. E.J.

2011 Dogtown and Babson Boulders Calendar

The Calendars are in! And the printer did a beautiful job on them. This high quality, uniquely Cape Ann, 8.5×11″ (11×17″ open) 12 month calendar is now available to purchase, just in time for that unique last minute gift you were searching for, or that special calendar for yourself. It includes 12 stunning full size black and white photos of Babson Boulders (Kindness, Spiritual Power, Courage, Loyalty, Ideas, Use Your Head, Industry, Be On Time, Study, Work, Truth and Keep Out of Debt), along with a two-page history of Dogtown, Roger Babson and the Babson Boulders. They are available at Joncien, 25 Bearskin Neck, Rockport, Dogtown Book Shop, 132 Main Street, Gloucester, Toad Hall Bookstore, 47 Main Street, Rockport and through Khan Studio in Annisquam Village at a cost of $15 ($20 if you want it shipped). This calendar will make a great gift for anyone who loves Cape Ann, rocks, nature, Dogtown, timeless words of wisdom, history and heritage of this little slice of Heaven we inhabit. You can see it at http://www.khanstudiointernational.com/dogtown%20and%20babson%20boulders%20calendar.htm.  Please email me at khanstudio@comcast.net if you would like to order one (or more), or stop by any of the above-mentioned shops. If you don’t happen to live on or near Cape Ann, you can order, pay by credit card and have one shipped to you by Joncien (call Leslie Asare at Joncien 978-546-9161, or if you can’t reach her, call EJ at 857-891-9054). Happy Holidays. EJ

Exciting little newsflash.  The Sorenson Center for the Arts at Babson College just ordered 40 Dogtown and Babson Boulders calendars.  I am honored to have a bunch of my calendars go to Babson College, probably the most important of the many life projects of

Roger Ward Babson.