A Wall Street Journal article published March 23, 2021, “The Staying Inside Guide: Big-Deal Art in Plain-Spoken Venues” by Judith H. Dobrzynski, celebrates New Deal works of art across the country.
The reporter highlights Coit Tower in San Francisco as one renowned example.
“The New Deal murals inside Coit Tower in San Francisco are also well-known. Painted by some two-dozen artists in 1934, they are social realist panels about life in California during the Depression, with titles like “Banking and Law” and “Meat Industry.” Their story, with a detailed layout, is available in a San Francisco Recreation and Park Department brochure.”
Judith H. Dobrzynski for WSJ
The reverse ratio is evident here: Gloucester selected four artists who completed scores of masterworks* for specific public buildings. Monumental stunning mural cycles were commissioned under the auspices of Federal Arts PWAP and WPA-era programs from 1935-42 for Sawyer Free Library, City Hall, the High School on Dale Ave (now Central Grammar apartments), Hovey, Maplewood, and Forbes elementary schools. As schools were closed, disposed, or repurposed, murals were rescued and resited within City Hall and later O’Maley.
The City of Gloucester artists were significant muralists and painters. In truth, venerated. They captured stories of Gloucester and became a celebrated part of our history and artistry. When considered as a whole, the Gloucester murals rival WPA era collections completed in big cities. The density of murals are as concentrated as any found in larger cities, like Coit Tower in San Francisco, though spread out among buildings rather than one tower, or one structure, as with Harlem Hospital. Gloucester’s post office nearly landed a commission, but fate intervened. I’ll save that for the Part 2 post.
Gloucester and greater Cape Ann artists were commissioned for murals beyond Gloucester and Massachusetts and served key roles on selection panels and planning.
In recent years thanks to a CPA award, the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, established in 1978 to help museums with conservation, evaluated the condition of the city’s historic Depression era collection to help with important restoration. Gloucester’s impressive collection itself is the museum and the city a work of art that continues to inspire generations of artists.
*The quantity of murals is 68 if one includes the five O’Toole murals from the 1940s. Note: because the Gloucester murals are multi-piece or series, the sections tally up to a whopping 75-90 count.
Selection of some murals on view (when open).
Gloucester’s murals at Sawyer Free
Within Sawyer Free Library are the city’s only New Deal works painted directly on plaster walls. Frederick Stoddard’s designs throughout the Saunders house encompass the first floor entryway, two story stairwell, and 2nd story wrap around stairwell hall. He described this two-story “decoration” above wainscotting upstairs and down as “a conventionalized treatment of the Gloucester region”. Familiar scenes include Dogtown “Moors”.
Marine scenes wrap around the former children’s space on the top floor.
A Gloucester Daily Times article from 1934 mentions a trifecta opening honoring the architectural overhaul for the building, new murals, and Rachel Webber’s retirement:
“July 25, 1934- “The public reception at the Sawyer Free Library yesterday afternoon was for three purposes: to observe the 50th anniversary of the occupancy of the present building, to give a public showing to the mural decorations recently completed by Fredercik L. Stoddard and to the entirely restored and renovated building, and to recognize 44 years of service by Miss Rachel S. Webber, librarian who is to retire in the fall…The building has been completely repaired and largely restored. The three story tower which had been built on the front of the building has been removed*, as has the old porch which extended across the front of the house, leaving only an entrance porch. A bay window facing Dale avenue which the architects decided spoiled the character of the building has been sliced off. Everything has been painted and repaired and new lights have been installed.”
*all work near murals!
Howard Curtis assisted Stoddard with some repair work as a result (and was brought back again in 1953, 1974, and 1976-1980). In 1935, Curtis was busy completing his original “The Creation of Light” commission for the Methodist Episcopal Church on Prospect Street (now apartments).
Within O’Maley Innovation Middle School are a complete though out of order Frederick Mulhaupt series (originally at Maplewood); a partial and crucial section from a 2nd immersive series (originally at the High School); and “Our Daily Bread” by Frederick Stoddard, cropped. There are important works by Larry O’Toole commissioned by Ben Pine for the Gloucester Fishermen Institute and YMCA that were painted in the 1940s. Ron Gilson, Gloucester native, author and local historian, helped with the attribution and remembered the completed art being carried out the door. Gilson was great friends with Ben Pine, his first boss, and knew O’Toole.
above: sections from Mulhaupt’s fantastical “Landing of the Viking Thorwald in Vinland” 1935; and central panel “Gloucester harbor” 1936 | below: DPW inspecting the O’Toole 1940s murals (photo 2015)
Within City Hall, there are 10 monumental New Deal murals by four artists: Charles Allan Winter, Frederick Stoddard, Frederick Mulhaupt, and Oscar Anderson. Three are multi panels so the collection in this building seems much greater than 10 murals. The Winters in the lobby and Kyrouz were site-specific for City Hall.
One is a small Stoddard panel from a triptych spanning 65 feet for Eastern Avenue School!
I’ll follow up with posts detailing more biographical information about the artists.
Does a pair of Gloucester Forbes school murals jog your recall?
The City of Gloucester murals have the potential to be listed among the nation’s most concentrated holdings of New Deal art from the 1930s and 40s on public view anywhere today. However, they are not all on view. Historic murals not on display await further conservation treatment.
Frederick Stoddard set up a studio in an unused room of the Point Primary School in East Gloucester to paint a variety of panels for the Forbes school. African animals by a waterhole, “the only liberty was animals all close to each other and peaceful,” accompany scenes of wild animals & birds and domestic animals. An underwater scene of local fish and vegetation is missing. I imagine every child and adult found it impossible to settle on just one favorite animal.
The largest composition stretched almost 20 feet. Joseph Nunes helped Stoddard with the installation.
This pair from the series were set over the doorways leading to classrooms. Each measures 5′ x 5′, so tall ceilings. Do they look familiar?
Did you attend or are you related to someone who was enrolled at the Forbes elementary school in 1935? Perhaps you visited one of the special viewing days set aside for the public. Fun fact: There have been seven Forbes school locations if we include the two modulars from the 1920s.
Oscar Anderson painted seven soft hued and dreamy murals for Hovey School including three panoramas. Four smaller works from this school are missing since ca.1972 or later. Does seeing a few of them together help you picture the Hovey school interior?
WPA District Briefs – 1930s
Beyond art, Gloucester benefited from multiple New Deal projects big and small. The Jodrey State Fish Pier was a Public Works Administration (PWA) biggie. Emergency funds allocated through the Treasury department paid for new public buildings like Gloucester’s post office.
The WPA helped Gloucester finally cap off the new track and field on Centennial. For years Gloucester residents were asked to dump their trash to build up landfill. The recreation space (now New Balance Field at Newell Stadium) was recognized nationally and dubbed, “Gloucester WPA Centennial Avenue Athletic Field”.
“The benefits of men working has changed unsightly, unhealthy Gloucester dumping ground into a modern fully equipped athletic and recreation field.”
Super complimentary letter from Colorado in response to the Gloucester story:
GHS Football players- recognize anyone?
The field also gained coverage with other WPA football projects
Stage Fort Park
WPA salvage work helped to build a new seawall at Stage Fort Park for flood and erosion control – “More than 3500 tons of stone set in cement were required in the construction of this 1100 foot WPA sea wall at Stage Fort Park, Cressey Beach, Gloucester. The wall preserves the beach area by preventing water and driven sand from flooding the park property.”
“At City Home, Gloucester, WPA razed a dilapidated wooden structure and built an all-stone garage and storage shed. These buildings will be used jointly by the City Home and the Welfare Department.”
Contributions in support of murals needing treatment can be sent to the “City of Gloucester”, note for mural conservation, City Hall, 9 Dale Avenue, Gloucester, MA 01930
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Happy New Year’s day! While thinking about 2021, I was looking back. 1900 seemed as good as any to share a fresh new chapter “then” story.
Let’s just say fasten your seat belts; reading about Mayor Merchant’s term is a bumpy ride for the entire year as reported in the Boston Globe. Heated exchanges dominate. Smaller items about conservation and deed issues related to Dogtown, Good Harbor Beach, and Briar Neck real estate development are detailed. I knew some details about Mayor French’s terms but did not run into Mayor Merchant before. I recognize the surname Merchant/Marchant as Gloucester history. Prior to this post I mostly associated Merchant with the street that was one of so many in Gloucester to inspire work by American artist, Edward Hopper.
On some lists of Gloucester Mayors, he’s (conspicuously) not there. (Biographical details unroll at the end. Also, photographs of all the Mayor portraits.)
All heads south immediately following the swearing in, and I mean immediately. The Mayor address advanced to the paper is standard, rosy and prickly, not uncommon.
New Year’s Day, 1900 – Mayor Merchant of Gloucester
Gloucester, Jan. 1- Establishment of a City Workhouse, and Investigation of Assessing and Fire Alarm Systems Urged
The inauguration exercises of the city government for 1900 took place this morning in city hall. As usual, a large number were in attendance, the especial point of interest being the reading of the inaugural. Those who expected to hear a plain and straightforward statement of certain facts were not disappointed, as the inaugural certainly treated certain matters in a trenchant manner.
The chapters in relation to the administration of highways, the debt of the city, revaluation, the need of better discipline in the police force, recommendations in regard to an equitable reduction of water rates were received with especial favor. The inaugural made a distinctly favorable impression.
In considering the finances, he said that the city’s liabilities were $829,243.72. The net debt is $368,211.04, an increase of $77,713.72. The reserve amount which the city now can borrow is $22,496.78.
The following recommendations were made: The appointment of a special committee to investigate and report to the city council as to the present system of valuation of the city by the assessors, and what action, if any, is needed to secure more equitable taxation; an investigation and report by the committee on fire department as to the needs of an improved fire alarm service and the probable cost; the abolishment of the public library fund, a special committee to consider carefully the question of the scale of the poor farm property, and what may be done toward the establishment of a city workhouse, which would be such in fact as well as in name; the appointment of a joint special committee upon water, to act with the water commissioners upon all matters relating to the purchase of the work, the improvement of sources of supply, and to suggest in what manner an equitable adjustment of the rates may be made; that no claim made against the city be paid without first having had a reference to the proper department and report thereon in accordance with the advice of the law department, and the appointment of a special committee of the city council to investigate all matters relating to the collection of taxes, and to suggest how best a way may be found for better service in this connection.
The mayor advocated a gradual revaluation of the city, saying he believed it to be the duties of the assessors to look carefully into the matter. Under the subject of highways, the mayor took occasion to criticize adversely those having them in charge the past year, while those officials who were brought in close contact with the work performed were roundly scored. The schools, fire department and trust funds were kindly criticized in the interest of advanced ideas and business judgement. Regarding the police and the matter of license, the mayor emphasized the statement that while not looking for any difficulty in this line the police must do as they were bidden and observe discipline.
City clerk Somes administered the oath to the Mayor elect Merchant, after which the keys of office were delivered to him by Mayor French. Mayor Merchant administered the oath to the following aldermen: Ward 1 Alphonso Davis; ward 2 Osborne Knowles; ward 3 Levi J. Hotchkiss; ward 4 Edward H. Quigley; ward 5 Albert H. McKenzie; ward 6, William J. Sleep; ward 7, William L. Allen; ward 8, James W. Ingersoll.
The following members of the common council were also sworn in: Ward 1, Austin F. Coombs, Addison W. Bailey, John W. Gaskell; ward 2, John F. Riley, Samuel J. Somers, Melvin Parsons; ward 3, John J. Cunningham, Frank W. Lothrop, John A. Stoddart; ward 4, Ernest S. Parsons, John J. Sullivan, Ray S. Friend; ward 5, James E. Tolman, Samuel W. McQuinn, Thomas Hodge; ward 6, Addison G. Stanwood, Samuel P. Favor, James A. Lawrence; ward 7, William Stephens, Charles C. Smith, Thomas F. Wherty; ward 8, Ephraim R. Andrews, James M. Chadbourne, Howard T. Bray.
After the reading of the inaugural the boards proceeded to their respective chambers for organization.”
– From “For Year 1900: Recommendations Made by Bay State Mayors. How Government of Cities Can Be Improved. Necessity of Practicing Economy Where It Can be Done Without Detriment to the Public Good. Questions of Finances, Schools, Water. Lighting and Sewage in Various Municipalities of the Commonwealth.” , Boston Globe, New Year’s Day, 1900
MUNICIPALITIES INCLUDED IN THE ARTICLE: SOMERVILLE. HAVERHILL. LAWRENCE. EVERETT. MEDFORD. SALEM. GLOUCESTER. FITCHBURG. BROCKTON. LYNN. BEVERLY. MARLBORO. WOBURN. NORTHAMPTON. SPRINGFIELD. NORTH ADAMS. NEW BEDFORD. QUINCY. WALTHAM. HOLYOKE. PITTSFIELD. TAUNTON. MALDEN. WORCESTER. BEVERLY CITY FATHERS. FOR THE SECOND TIME.
Jan 1 Day one whiplash- Council upends Mayor’s first day.
At the organization of the government today there were two unusual incidents.
“Mayor Merchant read a communication from ——-, protesting against administering the oath of office to Councilman elect Thomas Whearty, announcing that Chairman should contest the election. Mayor Merchant decided that there was nothing for him to do but take the returns of the election as they were rendered to him, and accordingly swore Mr. Whearty in.
“This had an important bearing on the contest of the presidency of the common council. When that body proceeded to elect as president James E. Tolman, who was a candidate for re-election offered an order that Mr. Whearty be not allowed to take part in the deliberations of the board until his case was finally settled. After several points of order had been made it was decided, to sustain chairman Lawrence, in adding Mr. Tolman’s order out of order. Councilman William Stephens was elected president of the council…In the afternoon Mayor Merchant announced his committees…
“Immediately on their announcement Alderman Sleep moved that the communication of the mayor be laid on the table. Mayor Merchant made no reply. Alderman Sleep insisted that his motion be put. Mayor Merchant contended that the committed announcement was simply a communication from the Mayor.
“Alderman Sleep produced the rules that urged that the aldermen by the rules could elect their own committees. Alderman Hotchkiss offered and order, if the mayor would entertain it, that the whole matter be referred to the city solicitor for his opinion as to the right of the aldermen to appoint the committees.
“Alderman McKenzie said there were committees to which he was appointed on which he did not care to serve.
“Mayor Merchant, after asking for further business, stated that he did not care to appear in the light of bulldozing the aldermen and should give them every opportunity to act except in the illegal expenditure of money, and then he should interfere. He therefore withdrew his nominations, and an order previously introduced by Alderman Hotchkiss that the aldermen reassemble at 7:30 in the evening and ballot for committees was passed.
“The mayor stated that the appointment of the committees had always been a prerogative of the mayor and he had proceeded in the matter as did former mayors.
“This is the first time in the history of the city that a mayor’s committee appointments have been protested or withdrawn. The incident caused somewhat of a sensation, and resulted in some animated conversation after the board adjourned.
“At 7:30 all the aldermen but Allen were in their seats. Mayor Merchant not putting in an appearance, President Sleep presided.
After the adjournment a conference was held, and a committee list satisfactory to the aldermen was arranged. The aldermen then, for the first time in the history of the city, proceeded to elect their own committees…Alderman Knowles offered an order that the city solicitor give his opinion in regard to the legality of the action of the aldermen in electing committees after the mayor had announced the appointment of committees. This was not seconded.”
Apparently this balking at Mayoral appointments was trending as Haverhill was in the same boat. Unsurprisingly, by the ides of March the Mayor and council are
by March 17 At Loggerheads
Gloucester Aldermen on their Mettle. Render Useless Several Vetoes of Mayor Merchant. Mr. Sleep Proves a Sharp Critic of His Honor.
“The session of the board of aldermen this evening was one of the most sensational for some time. The old feud between Mayor Merchant and Alderman Sleep again broke out.
The mayor when “communications from the mayor” was reached, resigned the position of presiding officer to chairman Sleep and departed from the chamber. The chairman then proceeded to read the three vetoes to the aldermen and two presented in the council, which came up for action.”
Boston Globe March 17, 1900 excerpt
VETO TOPIC 1- conflicts of interest and spite
“The order adopted in relation to the payment to Sleep Bros. for certain services on Beacon Street was vetoed by the mayor on the ground of illegality and that it was work done on private land…Mr .Sleep said that despite the veto, the mayor had paid the bill of W.R. Cheves for stone and E.H. Griffin for cement, but objected to that of Sleep Bros. for labor ($97.50) on the same job because the members of the firm were unfortunate enough to bear the same name as the speaker…the action of the mayor was simply a matter of spite against him for certain matters which had occurred on inauguration day…The order to pay the money was carried…”
Boston Globe March 16, 1900 excerpt
Veto topic 2- PROTECTING GOOD HARBOR BEACH
“Some sharpshooting occurred on the veto of the mayor of the order that signs be placed at Good Harbor Beach by the committee on police and that all persons be prohibited from taking sand and ballast from the beach. The mayor informed the board that the proper way to proceed in this matter was for the committee on public property…Sleep denied there was any politics in this measure, and said the committee on public property attended to its work, but as it received no pay it was not its duty to lay around Good Harbor beach all the time and protect the property.”
Boston Globe March 16, 1900 excerpt
VETO TOPIC 3 – Protecting Dogtown
The order that the mayor and city register the land known as Dogtown commons, under the provision s of the Torrens law, was vetoed by the mayor on the ground that it was not the duty of the mayor but of the committee on public property.
Boston Globe March 16, 1900 excerpt
Veto topic 4- pay Raise for Firemen
“…The mayor vetoed the order for an increase in the salaries of firemen because he said that the city was not in a financial condition to make the raise…Sleep stated that some of the business men are raising money to put through the defeated charter which the mayor favors and which provides for salaried commissioners and clerks. Money for their friends was all right, but when it came down to the firemen it was a decidedly different matter…”
Governor Crane named ex-Mayor French to Gloucester Police Court
september 1900 Briar’s neck free for all origin story continues
And the Mayor is in the story.
“Gloucester has had a little Oklahoma boom. The place in question where this excitement has occurred is at Briar neck. The strip of land has for many years been vacant, with the exception of one (shack)…although it is claimed by two capitalists, who assert that they have deeds…
“Early in the season an attorney inserted a small item in a local paper to the effect that there was no valid title, and that anyone who settled down on the property could hold it. Mayor Merchant was the first one to squat down on the property and his example was followed by others, and there was a veritable rush for the place for several days. All the available sites were staked out and the names of those who had located claims were written on the stakes. There was a rumor circulated that the mere staking of the land was unavailing and that nothing less than the erection of a building of some sort would hold the land. A nondescript settlement immediately sprung up, and the sound of the hammer and saw was loud for several days…”Seashore Boomers“
“There has been a great hunting up of old deeds and a revamping of family genealogies, …The Parsons of Joppa do not believe that the present squatters can hold the land, but eventually will be ousted. Mayor Merchant, by the way, claims descent from the Parsons.” Two capitalists of the city, George R. Bradford and George J. Tarr assert ownership of the tract, and have taken measures to protect their property…”
-excerpts from wild story about Briar Neck origins in the Boston Globe (Thacher is spelled Thatcher’s Island in this one)
Assuming its veracity, how did this Briar Neck business sort out? Two years earlier, a Boston Globe report stated Mayor Davis had plans for Briar:
Long standing Briar Neck controversy –
The controversy as to the ownership of Briar Neck property, between the street railway company and Mayor Davis, resulting in the company acknowledging the city’s rights in an old road there, has become further complicated. Today two of Gloucester’s wealthiest capitalists, George R. Bradford and George J. Tarr, entered the fight, and served papers on the street railway company. The plaintiffs claim that they own 36 acres of land at Briar Neck, which extends from the stone wall to the beach, including the fresh water pond, lowlands and uplands traversed by the street railway company. Meanwhile Mayor Davis has something up his sleeve in regard to ownership of the property which will be developed later.
The Mayor was limiting the amount of the council’s loan request.
“A long and tedious period of silence, lasting over 40 minutes, followed. Mayor Marchant holding his chair through fear that his seat might be usurped by Alderman Sleep, who is president of the board. In the meantime two of the aldermen had gone out in search of legal advice…”
“…Alderman McKenzie: “Since the mayor refuses to entertain my appeal, I appeal to you.” Mr. Sleep put the motion and Mr. McKenzie was sustained by the unanimous vote of the board…the portion of the loan not approved by the mayor was then passed over his veto by a unanimous vote…Having accomplished their purpose the board adjourned.”
Boston Globe October 24, 1900
Mayor French is back in the saddle. (The prior November, ex-Mayors Cook and French, Alderman Hotchkiss and ex-Alderman Barrett vied for the nomination.)
1899 New Year’s message for the Boston Globe by Mayor William French — who was back in as Mayor for 1901.
and his 1902 address published in the Gloucester Daily Times. I had read about French before.
photo caption: Gloucester Daily Times archives retrieved at Sawyer Free November 2018. Read more about 1902 and Haskell Dam in my prior post here on GMG, .
Honorable George E. Merchant Fast Facts
He was described as a modest man from a well known and well regarded “old Cape Ann family”, and endearing accounts about his enthusiasm at reaching his 50th wedding anniversary milestone suggest a loving one, too. (Gloucester Daily Times obit)
Prior to serving as Mayor, he served a term as an alderman 1886-87 (and many appointments/commissions before. Waterways after Mayor).
Adult – Printer/printing since 1870 when he began his career at John S.E. Rogers, owner and printer Gloucester Telegraph, various newspaper jobs. And printing press from his home at advanced age after retirement. Boyhood 1870 census- 16 years old, working as a fisherman (family lore he was the cook on father’s boat; father in business with his sons) giving it a go for 8 years like generations of his family. Education unknown, presumed self-taught. Prior to Mayor-1886-87 served as city councilor (overlapping with his father) and more since 1870s. After Mayor, appointments, too. Master gardener. Family historian-writer. Photography.
George Merchant Master mariner, fisherman, owner; founded seine net repair business 1873; fisheries advisor; served years as city councilor Ward 1 Affinity & skill for art- studied painting with FH Lane; fisheries display models, etc. (And his father was an incredible violinist.) Full & busy life, family man. 31 Main Street family residence See Shute & Merchant
Mary Douglass Merchant (1832-1923) Oak Grove Cemetery
Siblings Parents had 9 kids
Mary Jane 1851 – 1944 George Edward 1853 – 1929 Orlando 1856 – 1930 Flora Estelle died at 2 1858 – 1860 Eugene Howard died at 2 1861 – 1863 Robert Clifford 1864 – 1936 Joseph Carleton 1867 – 1961 unnamed son 1870 – 1870 Percy Washburn
Charlotte E. Lufkin (1857-1945)
twins died at 8 days and 9 days Ernest H (16 years old when his father was Mayor; GHS 1904) –buried in Santa Barbara– George E. Jr. (14 years old when his father was Mayor; GHS)
1900 33 Eastern Avenue family compounded variously split up before/after eventually 31 Eastern Ave where Charlotte remains
Obit both “well known member of old Cape Ann family”
George E. Merchant, Gloucester, Mass.
George Merchant, Gloucester, Mass.
George Merchant, grandfather, fisherman and accomplished violinist
Such creative, multi-talented family members! George E.’s photograph and family historian piece on the occasion of his grandfather’s 90th birthday was published in the Boston Globe
Portraits of many Gloucester Mayors are exhibited in Gloucester City Hall. These are photographs of (most of the) Mayor portraits I took back in 2017, after another inauguration. Paintings, photographs and drawings of Mayors have been commissioned or gifted then installed after the term(s) years of service.
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A classic Edward Hopper inspired by Gloucester will be sold at Sotheby’s auction this morning*. Architectural and natural elements in the drawing remain recognizable today. The scene overlooks the same house on East Main, Capt. Joe & Sons, and Cripple Cove (see then/now comparison photos below). The Gorton’s factory building there burned down. Cripple Cove playground is the green on the right of the Hopper image.
The drawing last changed hands in 1989 when the Horchows purchased the drawing from Kennedy Galleries in New York. Will it land in another private collection or an institution?
Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Gloucester Factory and House, 1924, watercolor and pencil on paper, 14″ x 20″, from the Carolyn & Roger Horchow collection (Dallas,TX) They purchased the drawing in 1989 from Kennedy Galleries, NYC.
Lot 8 estimate $800,000-$1,200,00 currently at $600,000 bid before the auction opens
*Update- With just 56 lots to sell and two withdrawn ahead of sale, Lot 8 came up quickly with a few competing bids and a hammer price of $700,000 ($867,000 with fees), below estimate.
Many lots before and after were short of estimate or passed (unsold) including a Winslow Homer watercolor which was “reoffered” by pausing the bidding on the final lot #56 to return to Lot #16 (which sold for 2 million hammer price) before moving back to the final lot, an Edward Willis Refield (which sold for $250,000). That whoopsie “reoffer” is highly unusual**. The auction house scrambled to bring that phone bidder forward before the close of the sale. A second Homer watercolor passed at 850,000.
The Sotheby’s December 11, 2020 auction offered a variety of American art from various collections. The sale results were a mixed bag of purchases, passes, and pulled works. Only one work sold far above estimate, thanks to a bidding war, a western scene by John F. Clymer. Scroll below the Hopper and Gloucester images to see the Homer.
above photo: Catherine Ryan
above: page from Edward Hopper all around Gloucester by Catherine Ryan, 2010
above: Sotheby’s catalogue entry page
In 2017, Christies sold a Rockefeller Hopper painting, Cape Ann Granite, also in December, which I wrote about here: Bring it Home.
**December 11, 2020 Winslow Homer Lot 16 sold at Sotheby’s after passing first in the live sale and then “Reoffered” before the close of sale. For both the first and second offer window, the bid opened at 1.8 million. In the first round the bidding went back and forth, but “passed” at 2.2 million, presumably failing to meet reserve or presale estimate (2.5 – 3.5 million). Before the final lot of the sale, the auctioneer annouced a “re-offer” for Lot 16 after the audio went silent for a brief time. The drawing was sold to a buyer placing a phone bid for 2 million hammer price (2,440,000 after fees), less than the “pass” of the first time through. This move is nearly an aftersale during the sale. Perhaps the first time around the buyer was late to the call or there was confusion determining the “up to” amount, factoring in the fees.
Property from a Prominent Private Collection
1836 – 1910
Two Girls on the Beach, Tynemouth
signed Winslow Homer and dated 1881 (lower left)
watercolor and pencil on paper
14 1/8 by 20 inches
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Last Chance! These must see 2019 shows are closing soon: Don’t miss ICA Watershed Purple (installation view above) closing September 2; DeCordova New England Biennial and the Provincetown Art Association & Museum’s 1945 Chaim Gross exhibition close September 15; and catch Renoir at the Clark before it’s gone September 22nd.
A few of the listed upcoming exhibitions to note: the NEW building and exhibits at PEM are opening September 2019; Homer at the Beach is on display at Cape Ann Museum thru December 1 (and catch a Richard Ormond lecture on John Singer Sargent’s Charcoals Sept.28 at Cape Ann Museum (ahead of the Morgan exhibition opening October); three new shows opening at MFA; Gordon Parks at Addison; and Alma Thomas at Smith. A Seuss-focused experience was pronounced destined for Boston, ahead of its TBD venue, by the LA entertainment company co-founders. Some shows I’ve already visited and may write about, mostly from a dealer’s perspective as that is my background. Exhibition trends continue to evolve and reveal new directions. A few patterns I see in the exhibition titles: what’s annointed for display and how it’s contextualized (corrective labels); immersive exhibits; revisiting colonial methodologies and themes; major solo surveys; women artists (and this upcoming season boost underscoring womens’ suffrage and 100th anniversary of the ratification of women’s right to vote); illustration; environment; and issues of humanity and migration. The list is illustrated with images of the sites. All photographs mine unless otherwise noted. Right click or hover to see info; click to enlarge. – Catherine Ryan
The guide – Massachusetts Museum Guide, Fall 2019
Note from author: The list below is alphabetized by town, and details upcoming exhibitions at each venue as well as some that are closing soon. Click the word “website” (color gray on most monitors) for hyperlinks that redirect to venues. For a list alphabetically sorted by venue, see my Google Map (with a Candy Trail overlay) “Art Museums in Massachusetts” hereand embedded at the end of this post. I pulled the map together several years ago. No apps to download or website jumping. Easy scroll down so you don’t miss an exhibit that’s closer than you think to one that you may already be exploring.A few are open seasonally (summer) or weekends only–call first to check before visiting. Major new architectural building projects are underway at BU (closed) and MIT. The 54th Regiment Memorial on Boston Common will undergo restoration. Get ready for close observation of conservation in process. – Catherine
1. John Greenleaf Whittier historic Home and Museumwebsite
18. Boston Harbor Islands National and State Parkwebsite
(photos show info gateway on the Greenway near the ferry access to Boston Harbor Islands)
Summer 2019 public art: Boston Harbor [Re]creation The Project: Artists Marsha Parrilla; Robin MacDonald-Foley; Brian Sonia-Wallace more(Jury: Luis Cotto MCC; Lucas Cowan, The Greenway; Celena illuzzi, National Parks; Caroly Lewenberg; Denise Sarno-Bucca DCR; Courtney Shape, City of Boston; Rebecca Smerling Boston Harbor Now; Kera Washingon; Cynthia Woo, Pao Arts Center)
Unveiled 2019 – Super A (Stefan Thelen) Resonance, 2019, latex and spray paint
Note to Greenway (see photo notes below): food trucks by the stop should be relocated to other food truck areas (and maybe one tree) to optimize and welcome sight line to the Greenway and public spaces from streets, sidewalk, and South Station. There are pauses elsewhere along the lattice park links, and a generous approach past the wine bar. The temporary commissioned mural could extend verso (or invite a second artist) so that the approach from Zakim Bridge/RT1/93North is as exciting as the approach from Cape Cod.
Skip the app AI download– swamped my phone battery despite free WiFi on the Greenway.
See complete list of 2019 public art currently on view at The Greenway here
The Greenway packs a lot of punch in a compressed area; its lattice of dynamic public spaces and quiet passages are an easy stroll into the North End or along the HarborWalk to the ICA, roughly similar in size and feel as walking Battery Park and Hudson River Park in New York City.
24. Innovation and Design building (aka Boston Design Building makeover in process in winter 2016 photos posted here) website
Through September 2, 2019 at The Water Shed, ICA Boston John Akomfrah: Purplemore
What’s coming in 2020 to The Water Shed? Still TBA
Through September 22, 2019 ICA Less Is a Bore: Maximilist Art & Designmore
Nice installation with a few surprises and thoughtful connection to other exhibtions on view. (The LeWit and Johns selections triggered what about that work or artist? I wish May Stevens and Harmony Hammond were included and my list grew from there. That’s part of the fun of the exhibit.)
September 24 – February 7, 2021 ICA Yayoi Kusama: Love is Callingmore
September 24 – February 7, 2021 ICA Beyond Infinity: Contemporary Art after Kusamamore
October 23, 2019 – January 26, 2020 ICA When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Artmore
Through December 31, 2019 ICA 2019 James and Audrey Foster Prize Boston area artists: Rashin Fahandej; Josephine Halvorson; Lavaughan Jenkins; Helga Roht Poznanskimore
Through October 20, 2019 Ship of State…Paintings by Robert Henry
Through December 21, 2019 Interpreting Their World: Varujan Boghosian, Carmen Cicero, Elspeth Halvorsen and Pual Resika
71. The Art Complex Museum (Weyerhaeuser collection) website
August 18 – November 10, 2019 Steve Novick: Approximation
September 15 -January 12, 2020 Draw the Line
September 15 – January 12, 2020 Rotations: Highlights From the Permanent Collection Nocturne including Lowell Birge Harrison (American, 1854–1929), Suzanne Hodes (American, b. 1939), Kawase Hasui (Japanese, 1883–1957), George Inness (American, 1825–1894), Johan Barthold Jongkind (Dutch, 1819–1891) Martin Lewis (American, 1881–1962), and Henri Eugene Le Sidaner (French, 1862-1939)
November 17 – February 16, 2020 George Herman Found Paintings
72. Thornton W. Burgess Society Green Briar Nature Center & Jam Kitchen website *may join Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster to combine and become the Cape Cod Museums of Natural History
The Art of Winslow Wilson & Pico Miran: Two Artists – One Life
June 8 – July 8, 2019
Rockport Art Association and Museum
12 Main Street, Rockport, MA
There are about forty Winslow Wilson (1892-1974) paintings in the exhibit and a new catalogue. I look foward to considering his work in person.
Back in February 2017, I wrote about Wilson/Miran in response to a GMG query from the artist’s granddaughter, Claudia Wilson-Howard, and her painstaking research and writing about his mysterious life and forgotten art, and filled in more context. Her excellent work is the genesis for the museum show and rediscovery of the artist. Wilson was a member and teacher at the Rockport Art Association. For local readers, Claudia’s online catalogue about his work www.winslowwilson.com helpfully provides some Gloucester addresses associated with Wilson.
June 21, 1951: Bradford Building, 209 Main Room 208, Gloucester, MA
August 1, 1951: Marine Basin, E. Gloucester, MA
June 18, 1952: Bradford Building, 209 Main Room 208, Gloucester, MA
July 26, 1955: Bradford Building, 209 Main Room 208, Gloucester, MA
1967 maybe 195 Main Street, Gloucester, MA
1969 maybe 195 Main Street, Gloucester, MA
June 2, 1971: PO. Box 414, Gloucester, MA
I added these: 21 Est 15th Street, 154 East 39th Street, Carnegie Hall, 3 Washington Square North in Greenwich Village, Woodstock, N.Y., and Lime Rock, CT.
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Blanched and illuminated area beneath the founder’s plaque was tagged with graffiti which will be ably removed by the city.
Days earlier it wasn’t. For comparison, here’s how the giant rock appeared May 1, 2019. Had it been on that day…
Though uncommon, graffiti has been removed from this same spot before. Here’s a 1974 photograph from the Gloucester Daily Times catching a family reading the founder’s plaque. Graffiti was visible and without mention.
Gloucester’s wrap around picturesque landscape was preserved as a public park in 1898. In 1907, the monumental natural glacial outcropping was decorated with an inset of bronze plaque and stone relief commemorating the first fishermen from England laying claim in 1623. Eric Pape was commissioned for its design.
There are a few circle-A’s tagged around town of late. Also Eon
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Gloucester, Mass.- Great teacher at Gloucester High School, Shaun Goulart, creates a local history scavenger hunt trivia game for his 9th grade students that takes place weekly for 6 weeks. We’re taking the challenge one week after the students. Good luck!
ANSWERS TO SHAUN GOULART’S LOCAL HISTORY TRIVIA WEEK THREE
1)The location of Gloucester’s first “Four Year High School”
Principal Albert Bacheler CENTRAL GRAMMAR
2)The location of Gloucester’s first Brick Building?
PURITAN HOUSE built in 1810by Col. James Tappan* is a historic house at 3 Washington Street and 2 Main Street. Also known as: Tappan’s Hotel, Gloucester Hotel (“Tappan’s Folly”), Atlantic House, Mason House, Community House, Capt Bills (1960s-70s), Puritan House & Pub (1977), Blackburn Tavern (1978-00s) *Tappan was taught by Daniel Webster
Excerpt from prior GMG post (read it here) about scenic tours by bike 1885: “And now let’s take our wheel for a short run along our harbor road to East Gloucester, and note the many points of interest on the way. The start is made at the Gloucester Hotel–the headquarters of all visiting wheelmen in the city–at the corner of Main and Washington streets; from thence the journey takes us over the rather uneven surface of Main street, going directly toward the east. In a few minutes we pass the Post Office on the left, and soon leave the noisy business portion of the street behind us, then, e’re we are aware of it, we reach and quickly climb the slight eminence known as Union Hill…” This brick building at Main and Washington now features Tonno Restaurant. Notice the chimneys and same stairs as when it was the Gloucester Hotel. The Blackburn Tavern sign was just marketing; this building has no connection. Blackburn’s Tavern is now Halibut Point restaurant at the other end of Main Street.
3)The first schoolmaster and town clerk’s house. (private property do not trespass)
“RIGG’S HOUSE” 27 Vine Street (Annisquam) Thomas Riggs House purchased in 1661
oldest house on Cape Ann, Gloucester, MA
4)A list of the first recorded Gloucester fishermen lost at sea. (Hint: 1716)
Look under the year on cenotaph surrounding Man At Wheel
5)The location of the first carillon built in America.
Bronze tribute plaques embedded in Tablet Rock at Stage Fort Park detail the site’s history and were commissioned and unveiled at different times. The monumental and stunning Founders plaque from 1907 on Tablet Rock itself is in fantastic condition. Two DAR plaques were inlaid on the glacial outcroppings past half moon beach on the way to the cannons. The Fisherman’s Field (ca.1930) is so worn it’s nearly indecipherable, though that’s part of its charm. The plaque compels close inspection, lingering and discovery. It’s a fun family activity for anyone who likes a challenge. For those who want help reading the content, I transcribed it back in 2010. Scroll down below the “read more” break in this post to open.
Stage Fort Fisherman’s Field plaque honoring all actions. My attribution is Harriet Hyatt_plaque refers to restoration of area 1930 by DAR
Revolutionary War tribute commissioned by DAR and installed 2013
During which war did it receive this name? ANSWER – FORT CONANT during the Civil War
1901 before the Tablet
Gloucester vs Plymouth / Captain John Hewes vs Miles Standish
DAR plaques marvelous glacial outcroppings Stage Fort Park
Gloucester HarborWalk #32
location 2 courtesy photos
Take a picture at Fort Point with the former location of the Coast Guard Aviation Station behind you (must be visible in the picture) ANSWER – TEN POUND ISLAND
What was the fort called on Fort Point? ANSWER – FORT DEFIANCE Fort Point Hill, Fort Lillie (Lily)
Name a war it was utilized in. ANSWER – Efforts to fortify as early as 1703 (see Pringle) ATTACK OF CAPTAIN LINDSAY (OR LINZEE) 1775 –population about 5000 –REVOLUTIONARY WAR, WAR OF 1812, CIVIL WAR
“In 1743, what is known as the old fort on Commercial Street, now encroached upon and surrounded by buildings, was completed. On this point, well selected strategically, is a hill which effectually commands the inner harbor. In 1742 and 1742, the General Court appropriated 527 pounds to defray the cost of fortification. Breastworks were thrown up and eight 12-pounders placed in position in the fort. The immediate cause of its erection was the fear of French incursions, but these fears were never realized. An effort had been made as early as 1703 to fortify the place, but the petition of the selectmen to the General Court for an appropriation for the purpose was refused. The petition shows that he harbor, even at that early date was extensively frequent for shelter, and was “very seldom free from vessels.”
“In order to be better prepared for future assaults breastworks were thrown up at Stage Fort, the Cut, Duncan’s Point and Fort Point. This, however was the last attack by sea or land that the people experienced.”
From Fort Point go to the location of the seven-gun earthwork battery and barracks in ramparts field. Take a picture with the old towers in the background (do not go on private property) ANSWER – EASTERN POINT FORT by eminent domain, Ramparts Field Road Fort Hill
Name a war it was utilized in ANSWER – CIVIL WAR
“Immediate action was taken toward the erection of fortifications. Land at Eastern Point, belonging to Thomas Niles was acquired by the government, and earthwork fort erected and manned…”
Screenshot Google Earth with all three above locations in it and circle them. Submit the image.
Thanks to Mayor Romeo-Theken, city officials & departments and staff, residents, volunteers, archives and generous grant awards & donations, — Gloucester’s extant historic mural collection has begun a new chapter and is beginning to receive most fitting care at the illustrious Williamstown Art Conservation Center!
Located on the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute campus, The Williamstown Art Conservation Center (WACC) is a non-profit institution that was established as the regional conservation center for New England by the US government back in 1977.
The summer 2017 issue of Art Conservator, WACC’s indispensable industry magazine, focused on the center’s 40th anniversary milestone and Director Tom Branchick. The back page prints the 2017 Center consortium members.
Conservators at the center assessed the condition and performed necessary triage because of the invaluable support from the city’s Community Preservation Act (CPA). CPA funding and Williamstown Art Conservation Center’s stature are inspiring endorsements for broadcasting the project and compelling additional financial support. As money is raised, every mural will have its necessary care regimen completed. Donations in support of the mural care can be sent c/o the Auditor’s Office, City of Gloucester, 9 Dale Avenue, Gloucester, MA (note mural restoration). All murals will be displayed in Gloucester as soon as their care is completed.
Sneak peek then and now:
The former Eastern Avenue School (85 Eastern Avenue) was the site for the monumental mural, Schooldays, by Frederick L. Stoddard, from 1936. This multi-panel triptych was painted 8 feet high and nearly 60 feet long despite an array of unusual architectural challenges. My hunch for its original location on the main floor was confirmed thanks to Barbara Tarr. I’m looking for interior photos of the school that show the mural installed. Over time the school walls were resurfaced, doors blocked, and an elevator installed. Based on my expertise, I recognized that a stand alone piece was misattributed and must have been dispersed, not as bad as the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz after the flying monkeys descend-… still it was dire and will be amazing to have it whole once again! Special thanks go to Gloucester’s Department of Public Works.
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Stop by Cape Ann Museum Saturday morning January 12th from 10:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m for a fun reception! As part of CAM Kids Second Saturday series, explore the inventive worlds of children’s books in the special exhibitions on view this winter: The Little House: Her Story and Once Upon a Contest: Selections from Cape Ann Reads! Meet some of the writers and artists featured in the exhibit, enjoy light refreshments, draw & color, explore the gallery with a “Seek & Find” and more!
Also look for Story Time in the Gallery each Wednesday through March!
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Stop by and meet some of the participants featured in Once Upon a Contest: Selections from Cape Ann Reads at a special Cape Ann Museum CAM KIDS second Saturdays family activity on January 12, 2019, from 10AM-12PM. Later that same day, artists Mary Rhinelander and Julia Garrison are offering a printmaking linocut demo related to the Folly Cove designers and the major Virginia Lee Burton The Little House Her Story exhibition!
Thanks to the four public libraries of Cape Ann and Cape Ann Museum, Once Upon a Contest: Selections from Cape Ann Reads is a testament to the imagination and immense artistic talent of artists and authors. Below are photographs from the first reception for the exhibit at Cape Ann Museum January 5, 2019.
Courtesy photos from Ellen F. Kenny, Mass Center for the Book. Thank you for capturing the spirit of the reception at Cape Ann Museum! Mass Center for the Book Facebook [Folks featured in the big group shot from L-R: Anna Vojtech (Artist-Author), Claire Wyzenbeek (Artist-Author), Jean Woodbury (Author), Christina Ean Spangler (Artist), Maura Wadlinger (Author), Juni VanDyke (Artist), John Plunkett, Martha Geraghty ( Author), Barbara McLaughlin (Artist-Author)]
The Cape Ann Museum reception was beautiful. Everybody from the museum is so welcoming. The courtesy photos below document the start of the reception from Mayor Romeo Theken, Justine Vitale, and others. See Kim Smith’sphotos from later in the afternoon and from another visit here! We’re so grateful to have a record of this joyous time. The show continues at Cape Ann Museum through February 24 before traveling throughout Cape Ann in 2019.