“…In 1954, I met my husband Lars-Erik Wiberg outside my father’s Rockport studio while he was working on a car. Yes, in those days one could park there. We married in 1957 and lived at the Fish House, 27 Bearskin Neck, while I transferred to UMass Art…” – excerpt Betty Allenbrook Wiberg
The front page Cape Ann Beacon story, Rockport is show’s final stop: Betty Allenbrook Wiberg is featured artist for Cape Ann Reads picture book exhibit, published on February 14, 2020, includes a great note by Wiberg. You can read the complete piece on the Beacon’s website here https://gloucester.wickedlocal.com/news/20200214/rockport-to-host-once-upon-contest . The exhibit is on display at Rockport Public Library through Feburary 29, 2020. There is a reception February 29 starting at 11am. Wiberg installed a concurrent temporary installation in the children’s room and display case in the hall, across from the wonderful Recchia Mother Goose sculpture.
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Presented by the four libraries of Cape Ann, the group exhibit, Once Upon a Contest: Selections from Cape Ann Reads, featuring original children’s picture books, is on display at the Rockport Public Library until February 29, 2020. Rockport is the 5th and final stop and hosting a reception on February 29th at 11am. At each venue, a Cape Ann Reads participating artist was invited to create a special temporary installation. Betty Allenbrook Wiberg is the Cape Ann Reads Invited Artist for Rockport. The show is made possible with support including the Bruce J. Anderson Foundation.
BETTY ALLENBROOK WIBERG
Pine needles, foam, playhouses and gnomes – custom family toys, miniatures and games from the artist’s archives and attic spanning 1969-2019
The Invited Artist for the Rockport stop of the travel show Once Upon a Contest: Selections from Cape Ann Reads is Betty Allenbrook Wiberg, a long-time Rockport artist and resident and former Bearskin Neck gallery owner. Wiberg has installed original toys she’s made over 50 years inside a display case and Children’s Room at the Rockport Public Library. Made by hand with love out of common materials found at home and in nature– like paper, foam core, seeds and acorn caps– these personalized toys were inspired by her children and grandchildren’s favorite books, hobbies and changing interests. In particular she chose examples of characters and worlds brought to life from the pages of books. Wiberg hopes the menagerie of custom toys for those dear to her will engage young and old alike and inspire ideas to try at home with any ready materials at hand.
As Wiberg placed acorn cap people within the display case, she explained how she was aiming for fanciful “haphazard” children’s worlds as when kids play. The red gnomes and stylized forest might blend together with the world of air dry, clay acorn figures, boundaries or not. Painted sculpey villagers parading past tiny painted blocks, a stand in for Bearskin Neck in Rockport, might stop for tea at an outdoor blue chairs circle. An interior scene inspired from Beatrix Potter books is draped with sculpey play food and housewares, set atop tables and hutch, dining seats and floor. Wiberg can’t help but design family directly into these captivating scenes. (The Allenbrook and Wiberg family trees are steeped in the arts.) Charming ephemera associated with loved ones, or expressed as figures and actions, are intrinsically dispersed and personal. A few of the acorn capped musicians were inspired by her son-in-law, a performer and musician. Her mother and daughter Kristy are painted waving from the window of the teeny Bearskin Neck home. A Lilliputian trophy was hers when she was a little girl.
In preparation for this installation, with help from her daughters pulling boxes from the attic and dusting off these cherished family toys, Wiberg recalled a favorite book from her childhood, Maida’s Little Shop (by Inez Haynes Irwin*), and how much she wanted to have a toy shop like the one in that story. With so many creative toys adapted for kids and grandkids spilling across every surface imaginable unearthed and under consideration for this installation, her family didn’t miss a beat. “You do have a toy shop!” they laughed.
“This show has me remembering books,” Wiberg stated. “I’ve never forgotten that that little book arrived in a bushel of books delivered as a gift by artist friends of my parents. Perhaps they were from a library sale. To this day I tend to give other children books, because they’ve had such an impact on me and my daughters.”
Betty Allenbrook Wiberg illustrated the children’s picture book, Little One, written by her eldest daughter, Kirsten Allenbrook Wiberg, which they submitted for the Cape Ann Reads contest. Little One is about a small elephant that struggles with growing up, encounters danger, but survives to live a long life. The story is illustrated with 13-14 pages of Betty’s stunning, full-size black and white images of African wildlife focusing on the small elephant and his/her family. Little One earned a Cape Ann Reads Gulliver Award. Kirsten Allenbrook Wiberg, eldest daughter of Betty, lives in Gloucester where she has maintained her therapeutic body-work practice since 1991.
In addition to the children’s picture book, Little One (included as part of the Once Upon a Contest group show), and these personalized toys she’s shared in public for the first time, examples of Wiberg’s still life and portrait fine art are also on view.
About the Artist
Betty Allenbrook Wiberg was born in London and moved to the United States as a child. She received a fine arts scholarship to attend Boston University, and she completed her formal training at Massachusetts College of Art. She continued to study under her father Charles T. Allenbrook, a well-known portrait artist who resided and worked in Rockport and Florida. In 1957, she married Lars-Erik Wiberg and they settled in Rockport, Massachusetts, where they raised three daughters. Betty created designs for George Caspari Cards, designed fabrics for Bagshaws of St. Lucia, served as an artist in Federal Court, provided artwork for the Hoosac Tunnel documentary, and operated a gallery and studio on Bearskin Neck. Wiberg recalls bags she created for the Rockport Public Library toy check out and drawings of England, local freelance work for the Lions Head Tavern menu at King’s Grant Inn on Rt.128***. She presently maintains a home portrait studio in Rockport. See her artist statement below.
*** bonus photos north shore fun fact: King’s Grant Inn Lion Head’s Tavern menu that Betty Allenbrook Wiberg illustrated
Betty Allenbrook Wiberg artist statement, Feb. 2020
As a youth my family lived in New Rochelle, New York. I remember drawing and painting from an early age and assisting my father at the local art association. We visited Rockport for vacations when I was a child and my father painted the local landscape.
My parents, Margaret and Charles T. Allenbrook bought “the Snuggery” in 1952 on Bearskin Neck and opened Allenbrook’s portrait studio. It had living quarters in the rear and upstairs. When I became more serious about my drawing, I would go out in the studio and draw portraits from my father’s models as they posed for him. This was the way I became comfortable drawing before others. Sometimes I would entertain the children so they would sit better for my father. I used masks and other toys to accomplish this or read them a book. When I was around seventeen I started doing painted silhouettes for a dollar and that was exciting to be earning something with my own efforts. I also helped with framing my father’s work. My father would give me advice and instruction on my efforts and I assembled a portfolio of my work which won me a scholarship to Boston University.
In 1954, I met my husband Lars-Erik Wiberg outside my father’s Rockport studio while he was working on a car. Yes, in those days one could park there. We married in 1957 and lived at the Fish House, 27 Bearskin Neck while I transferred to U Mass Art. After school, I opened a gallery in our home on the Neck. I did silhouettes and sold my fanciful drawings, block prints and other handwork. Later, we expanded the Fish house and had two daughters, Kristy and Margaret. When our third child, Brenda was on the way, we moved to larger quarters at our present location.
My husband made the children a large puppet theater* which sparked a series of handmade puppets of various sorts and materials. The children were eager art explorers and we had costumes and other creative materials ready at hand. We were regular visitors to the local library. I made cloth bags for toys which became a part of what could be borrowed from the Rockport Public Library.
I started doing commission work part time and also did volunteer work. In the 1980s this expanded to part-time work for the TV studios which brought me into another world since I was sketching in courtrooms. Once, I ended up on the sidewalk finishing a sketch, while the reporter waited to grab it and take it into the truck for transmission. It was hastily done and later when I viewed it, I saw they had zoomed in for a tight shot. I was embarrassed to see how careless the work appeared. It was an unnerving experience at times because the culprits were sitting right near the artists while we heard testimony of their serious misdeeds. I had a tongue stuck out at me by one of them and heard others’ lives threatened. My work exceeded the art budget of the TV station during the Angelo trial which went on for over a year.
This all changed when my father passed away in 1988 and I joined my mother at the studio on Bearskin Neck. I was happy to be working closer to home and sometimes could walk downtown to do portraits. It was very nice to spend more time with my mother and be drawing people and children who posed for me instead of trying to catch them from a distance as in the courtroom. Our daughter, Brenda later joined me and drew animal portraits from photos after she graduated from U Mass. art school. We worked together for about three years until 1996 when my parents’ studio was sold and we moved the studio to my home on South Street. Our daughter, Margaret, an art graduate also exhibited her art work and handmade jewelry with us. Over several years, we have had open studios and invited family and visitors to see our endeavors. Lately, this has been dormant but with grandchildren also creating their own art we are considering another open studio. It is a grand way of connecting with others who enjoy creating with various materials and share ours.
Thinking further about this show at the library, and Rockport, I was President of the Friends of the Rockport Library years ago, and also did some art work for them. And I spoke before the local rotary about my courtroom work long ago.
I would very much like to thank Catherine Ryan who has encouraged and inspired me to bring forth my art efforts through the Cape Ann Reads project she created with the local libraries. It has been far more of an adventure then I anticipated and brought many local artist and writing talents to the public through an exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum and the Libraries. I’ve had the opportunity to do a paper craft workshop at the Cape Ann Museum and hope to give one at the local library. Stay tuned in! – Betty Allenbrook Wiberg, February 2020
Betty Allenbrook Wiberg is the Invited Artist for the Once Upon a Contest: Selections from Cape Ann Reads travel show at the Rockport Public Library venue, February 2020, presented by the four public libraries of Cape Ann with support from the Bruce J Anderson Foundation | The Boston Fund.
~large puppet theater gifted to The Waldorf School
Installation views Once Upon A Contest: Selections from Cape Ann Reads
at Rockport Public Library February 2020
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Enjoy ” Seek and find” activity sheets you can photograph to bring with you to the show or print out. (There are copies on site as well.) The first one is harder and may take longer. The mini one is geared to the youngest visitors.
*Inez Haynes Irwin (b. 1873 Brazil – d. 1970 Massachusetts) author of Maida’s Little Shop, was a renowned early 20th century, award-winning Massachusetts author, suffragist and feminist. She attended Radcliffe. Her parents were from Boston. Haynes married newspaper editor Rufus Gillmore in 1897; they later divorced. She married William Henry Irwin in 1916. She wrote fifteen books in the Maida series beginning with Maida’s Little Shop in 1909, first published by American publisher B.W. Huebsch**, and concluding with Maida’s Little Treasure Hunt in 1955. Haynes was the first fiction editor for The Masses. She served as Vice President and President of the Author’s Guild of America. In 1924, she received an O. Henry Award her short story, The Spring Flight. Her aunt, Lorenza Haynes (1820-1899), was the first public librarian in Waltham, Massachusetts, then one of Massachusett’s first three ordained female ministers. The aunt’s assignments began in Maine, where she also served as Chaplain to the Maine House of Representatives and Senate. Her ministries included two in Rockport: the First Universalist Church on Hale Street (1884) and the Universalist Society, Pigeon Cove. (“She was an acceptable preacher and did good work wherever her lot was cast.” Universalist Register, 1900. Scroll up and down – fascinating to compare the complimentary entries for the male pastors in these pages. For a more detailed entry see this nutshell on Lorenza Haynes ). Inez wrote about her aunt and big family in this major essay. In it she corrects the record that her aunt left posts because of unfair pay, not her frality as reported in biographies.
Artist Betty Allenbrook Wiberg did not know that the little Maida book she recalled so fondly was part of a series or about its author or the aunt’s ties with Rockport. “I haven’t thought about that book until I worked on this show. It’s almost providence at work when you hear connections like these!”
**About Inez Hayne’s first publisher, B.W. Huebsch– His eponymous firm sponsored writers and was credited with building interest for Joyce, Strindberg, DH Lawrence, Sherwood Anderson and others. His imprint was a 7 branch candlestick with his initials BWH. Later, he merged his firminto a nascent Viking Press and continued at the helm as editor in chief. According to the NY Times obit he was a leader in the A.C.L.U.
Willie Alexander; Bob Anderson; Kurt Ankeny; Peggy Badenhausen-Roma; Joan Benotti; Coco Berkman; Kyle Browne; Debbie Clarke; Pat Lowery Collins; Anne Marie Crotty; Jane Crotty; Pam Courtleigh; Jill Demeri; Loren Doucette; Barbe Ennis; Billy Evans; Jack Evans; Nina Fletcher; Brooke Gibson; Paul Cary Goldberg; Joy Halsted; Frances Hamilton; Leslie Heffron; Andrew Houle; Pia Juhl; Ann Lafferty; Otto Laske; Victoria Lopez; Erin Luman; Roger Martin; Jay McLauchlin; Shaun McNiff; Ann Melancon; Ruth Mordecai; Lee Nadel; Mary Lou Nye; Hans Pundt; Mary Rhinelander; Margaret Rack; Jenny Rangan; Kay Ray; Anne Rearick- Katlin; Katherine Richmond; Judy Robinson-Cox; Joyce Roessler; Gabrielle Rossmer; Lyla Roth; Lynn Sausele; Mary Jane Sawyer; Jill Solomon; Dawn Southworth; Marty Swanson; Karen Tusinski; Juni VanDyke; Anna Vojtech; Rokhaya Waring; Jane Weinshanker; Mark Williamson; Judy Wright
Here are a few installation views (click to enlarge and view credit)
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If you haven’t seen the series of five murals painted circa 1945 by fine artist and muralist, Larry O’Toole (1909-1951), that were rescued and installed (decades ago) at O’Maley Innovation Middle School, perhaps you’ve noticed a poster of his brilliant pictorial map around Cape Ann.
O’Toole published editions of the map in 1947 and 1948. Reproductions of “A Salty Map of Cape Ann: Gloucester-Magnolia-Rockport-Pigeon Cove-Lanesville-Bay View-Annisquam” the 1948 blue version are available at Cape Ann Museum shop. The delightful map includes inventive and intricate details and local nods: a shout out to Ben Pine’s* wharf, “All maps like this have a sea serpent;” schooners like the Henry Ford and Gertrude Thebaud (again Pine); historic sites and characteristic scenes not to miss “Artists and Seagulls”; and upcoming landmarks to look forward to like the Annisquam Bridge slated for completion in 1950. The numbered border framing elements could have been inspired by Virginia Lee Burton.close up zoomable map (sold) can be found here
Ben Pine* portrait by FSA/OWI photographer, Howard Liberman, titled “Gloucester, Massachusetts. Capt. Ben Pine, the man who raced the schooner “Gertrude Thebaud” against the Canadian schooner “Blue Nose” for the fisherman’s trophy, is one of the three men who made Gloucester. The others were Tom Carrol and Ray Adams.” (author’s note: Ray Adams was a gal so the compliment is for two men and one woman…).
Art can be seen on the walls throughout the Gloucester Mariner’s Association in Howard Liberman’s faint photos from 1941. I’m looking for more interior shots. Some of the art could be O’Toole’s, who completed commissions for Pine.
Carved fish models at the Gloucester’s Mariners Association (Fishermen’s Institute)
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The blanketing New England autumn is stronger on the walls at Cape Ann Museum than the fall landscape all around us just now. (When I saw this ravishing exhibit at the beginning of June, I had that same feeling about ‘summer’.) Though the seasons of color may disappoint us one year to the next, the impact of these paintings only intensifies with close observation. This is a show for anyone with an interest in painting. Rockbound at Cape Ann Museum features a terrific variety of iconic Cape Ann seacoast scenes and artists. There’s an added urgency to see the show in person: most are on loan from private collections, shown together for the first time. Come fill your eyes and heart before this exclusive opportunity passes by.
(The wonderful Fitz Henry Lane exhibition that just opened will be on view through March 4, 2018.)
3 works by W Lester Stevens
I think that the “Unattributed decorative mirror for over mantel” may be the hand of artist Frederick Stoddard. Perhaps it’s from a series or the “Morning Mantle Decoration by Fred L. Stoddard” that’s listed in the 1923 Gloucester Society of Artists inaugural exhibition.
Artists include Yarnall Abbott, Gifford Beal, George Bellows, Theresa Berenstein, Hugh Breckenridge, Stuart Davis, Marsden Hartley, Aldro Hibbard, Max Kuehne, Emma Fordyce Macrae, Margaret Patterson, Lester Stevens, Anthony Thieme, and more (hover over image to see artist information)
photos pairings below: Finding Cape Ann Museum Rockbound color/mood inspiration just outside in Gloucester October vistas (not literal place/time pairings but that could be done as well!)
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The Roving Home’s pop up shop opens at the Tusinski Gallery on Saturday night. Karen Tusinski, owner and artist at the Tusinski Gallery is hosting The Roving Home in conjunction with Earth Day with the theme Home (re)Cycled. The show at the Tusinski Gallery will include handmade pieces, lighting and more — all using vintage items. Decorating using vintage goods is a perfect way to increase environmental awareness — and where better to honor this idea than Rockport, the home of the best swap shop on the East Coast? 🙂
Hope you can come on Saturday, April 21st from 6 to 8pm. The pop up shop & show run through May 13th. The Tusinski Gallery is located at 2 Main Street in Rockport. Call 978-546-2244 or 978-501-3593 for more information or e-mail Sarah Kelly at email@example.com.
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Spring has come to Rockport with one of the town’s first openings of the season! Rocky Delforge is a young Rockport printmaker and artist who is doing some great contemporary work. Yesterday a few of us in town got a preview of his new show and were especially impressed by his massive hand-printed piece depicting downtown Rockport – you MUST see this piece!
The whole show promises some surprises as it takes its cues away from the dominant (if unbelievably beautiful) influence of the nautical. And the show is in a great venue, Thistle Hill on Main Street in Rockport (a few doors down from the Rockport Art Association). Although Thistle Hill is a retail shop, the owner is creating space for Rocky’s show in her efforts to collaborate with a local artist. This is a fantastic idea and what might be the start of a new trend in Rockport: one in which the retail sector and local artists come together.
The Rockport Art Association kicked off the 2012 season last night. Be sure to stop by to check out their current shows: A Night At The Museum
Winter Group Show
Sketch Group Show
Studio Class Show
All are welcome!
Please click here to go to the RAA’s website for more detailed information…
Rockport sculptor Jenna Powell is showing at Lesley University from February 16th to April 16th. The work in her show is based on the castings from the iconic Tarr & Wonson Paint Factory in Gloucester, with results both aesthetically and historically important. From Jenna:
I began the Tarr and Wonson Paint Manufactory project in Gloucester Massachusetts with the assumption that the remaining historic structures would be of primary interest, not the story of paint discovered within. Inside, multi-colored traces of history are frozen in varying stages of liquidity: flowing, dripping, oozing, splattering, lumping and layering. The paint evokes the memory of mass production recorded throughout and between multiple stories, floorboards, ceilings, and walls.