Motif Monday- a photo journal of December yellows, Gloucester, MA
The O’Maley Innovation Middle School campus setting is rather bucolic. There’s a line of apple trees that still bear fruit and suggest the original farm, playing fields are stepped down surrounded by marsh and pond, Dogtown stretches along one edge, and Pole Hill rises up across the way. Community volunteers and students have created lovely decorative gardens. Yes, the track needs work and the playing field could be upgraded to turf like Gloucester High School’s New Balance-Newell Stadium. But it’s a beautiful spot to walk or catch a game. Ed Tedesco designed O’Maley in 1971. Although I believe the architect was quite sensitive to the setting, I understand how people criticize the exterior as harsh, or worse. “It feels like a prison!” exclaim some (and others joke. It is a middle school afterall.) You know what I see on the exterior when I come to O’Maley? Beautiful walls. Interesting shapes. Expansive public space ready for art and ideas.
O’Maley walls, photos from 2015
You can’t judge a book by its cover. OR can you? O’Maley has the potential for its shell to match the creative arts and legacy at its core. There are stunning historic murals from the 1930s and 40s in the Commons. The arts curriculum is valued and celebrated. The arts teachers are amazing. If there is any school in Massachusetts that sings out arts and legacy, let it be here. Monumental public art and street art abound in Gloucester.
Parsons Street before, after, and after
public art in Gloucester, MA and context collages
And not just for flat surfaces. Artists have suggested creative responses to Americord’s striated surface like a piano keys mural along the wall (a motif you may have seen elsewhere); others proposed a changing light installation when the cultural district designation was underway.
Stephanie Benenson’s temporary installation Harbor Voices at City Hall
Street art has become big business. Cities and towns around the world vie for renowned muralists in a competitive commercialized market with varying degrees of success.
O’Maley Innovation Middle School has the perfect walls for showcasing creative voices of former alumni who are art school grads (or currently enrolled)– professionally trained and inspired to leave a mark. Ever since the dynamite 18UP and Under 30 exhibition, supporters hoped to catalyze possibilities for these emerging artists. Murals taken to this scale warrant investments of $15,000 per artist per wall.
just a few of the grads…Chris Budrow | Kate Bresnahan | Jason Burroughs | Lexi Chipperini |Jon Cooney | Jeff Cluett | James Curcuru | Nicole Dahlmer | Leon Doucette | Alessia LoGrasso | Avery McNiff | Micah O’Conner| Mary Sullivan
Before I saw walls of possibility. I still see that, but now I imagine specific artists and I hope you do, too. There are plenty of walls to go around at O’Maley.
a few more international street art mural examples
GloucesterCast 236 with Lesley Davison, Randy O’Neil, Corey Ricci-Munn, Corey Marshall, Charlene Delaney, Karen Pischke, Cat Ryan, Kim Smith and Joey Ciaramitaro Taped 8/6/17
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but not for long! Danny Diamond is completing the monumental Cape Ann Brewery mural wrap on the Rogers Street side today.
Cape Ann Brewery is located at 11 Rogers Street on the water by St. Peter’s park. If you’re in town it’s a gorgeous day for a harbor walk to check the painting out LIVE! I’ll post more info and photographs of the mural in progress.
If you miss seeing him in action today, you’ll have another chance as he’s signed on to paint LIVE again at the Harvest Festival. You can follow Danny on Instagram @pyse117 and http://www.skribblefish.com
Happy Belly is chock full of talent. Bakery? Check. Happy Belly will have hand crafted foodie heaven pastries, cookies, and all manner of can’t wait to see what’s made daily baked goods. How do I know since it’s not open? Trust me they have it covered.
Master pastry chef extraordinaire, Melissa Hays, is in the house
Sticky Fingers is sticking around. And I can’t wait to look up! Artist Danny Diamond will be tackling that chalkboard wrap around. Diamond painted a showstopper for Happy Belly sister restaurant, Minglewood Tavern at Latitude.
Another Door Opens sneak peek inside Happy Belly ‘before’ buildout in process April 2017
There’s a monumental outdoor mural behind Prince Insurance at 3 Washington Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts, that changes every year. It’s sited on private property.
Thanks to the Greeke family who own Prince Insurance and let him have at it, artist and writer Danny Diamond has expressed his ideas and showcased his can command on this same outside wall annually since 2011.
My favorite sight line is from Middle Street heading to the Captain Lester S. Wass American Legion Post 3 and the Joan of Arc sculpture by Anna Hyatt Huntington. It’s in a tight spot, and so is the kid with the green, green eyes staring back from the latest mural.
Diamond is using his talents to bring awareness to homelessness and the economy. Here’s an excerpt from his statement about 21st Century Orphans: “The windfall of green-backs that flies from my letters gives way to dingy news-print and beggars’ placards–this orphaned child’s currency. It’s rarely discussed, in our scenic little fishing town, that the homeless population has increased in Massachusetts by 40% since 2007, even as the national average was in decline. This in part due to the fact that the cost of living here in Mass is among the highest in the country; the cost of housing continues to increase now that the market has come back, and there is no relief in sight… Fifteen percent (over half a million) of our children here in the Bay state live in poverty; of the over seventeen-thousand homeless people here, thirty-eight percent are children.” – Danny Diamond, 2016
A Gloucester native, Diamond is busy with commercial art and commissions on both coasts. I had a chance to ask him more about his art and writing after I did a post about the sea monster fence he painted. He brushed off the street artist description: “I consider myself a graffiti-writer and sometimes a mural-artist, but not a “street-artist” (semantic distinction).” I asked him about Gloucester connections and if he went to the high school. Did any teachers influence him? He wrote back swiftly:
“I studied art under Jackie Underwood, who was “Jackie Kapp” at the time, as well as theatre and set-design with Krista Cowan and Kim Trigilio. I went on to earn a cum laude BA in English Lit and Creative Writing at UMass Boston, class of ’06… I spent a lot of time at Artspace on Center St. as a kid, and so Gloucester’s sub-cultural grandmaster Shep Abbott had a big effect on me by bringing punk rock and mural art into downtown. I was mentored in the world of graffiti art by the late Jed Richardson of Manhattan who was a major figure in the NYC subway-train art movement of the 1980’s; he moved to Gloucester in 2001 or so and remained here until his passing in September of ’09… ”
Diamond created a tribute chalk mural to his mentor at Minglewood Tavern. I worked in New York and saw first hand the 1980 era kings (and not so kings) of subway and club graffiti. I didn’t know Jed Richardson’s work and wondered if Diamond had an image to share for this post.
I also thought about the owners who turned over their wall for Diamond’s art. I learned that the building is owned by Peter Greeke who founded Prince Insurance. Aha! A creative family that understood and allows Danny Diamond the use of a large wall to practice and express his art. The Prince Insurance company is on Washington Street between Middle and Main and directly across from the Legion. It is a second generation family business that has specialized in personal insurance for more than 35 years. It’s now co-owned by sisters, Melissa Moseley and Wendy Prendergast. A third sister, fashion designer Jennifer Greeke, operates Harpy Fashion out of the back office. The Prince Insurance storefront stands out with such original picture window displays.These windows are an entire family affair. Melissa doesn’t remember a time before the windows. Their mother creates them; Jen has made clothing, sculpted papier-mâché creatures and mermaids. “Of course because of the community we live in, over time artistic customers and friends joined in…like Richard Harding and the built boat. They’re just a lot of fun.” Prince Insurance has a beautiful new website.
I hoped Danny Diamond had a record of his devoted wall mural project, which he obliterates and repaints every year. He did. Photographs below are from Diamond or his website, www.skribblefish.com. His Instagram is @pyse117. I added one showing a work in progress he is completing for a new restaurant opening in Salem in February and other local commissions.
Photo without irony. For irony scroll down to see the poem, Mending Wall, by Robert Frost, and for Hancock’s portrait of Frost.
Update: shortly after posting and thanks to Good Morning Gloucester facebook feed and readers, there may be more information coming on the outside-r artist who built such a great fence design. Please send in more information soon. And here is some! Danny Diamond writes: “I painted this octopus (and the rest of the fence) back in October. It belongs to Jon Just Jon and Lisa Bouchie. The octopus was painted entirely with low-pressure spray-cans.” And Lisa Redbird adds: “…conceived by Lisa Bouchie, built by Mark (Girard) of Spotless Monkey and spray painted by Danny Diamond. A true artist collaborative…”
1914 poem by Robert Frost, American poet (1874-1963), first published in anthology North of Boston
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door-game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Spring is mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go beyond his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Artist: Walker Kirtland Hancock, (b.1901-December 30, 1998)
Sitter: Robert Lee Frost, 26 Mar 1874 – 29 Jan 1963
Date: 1969 bronze sculpture cast after 1950 original (collection Amherst)
Dimensions: Without socle or mount: 16 1/2 x 9 1/2 x 10 inches
Collection: National Portrait Gallery
The Robert Frost Farm, Derry, NH (home 1900-1911)
Friends of Robert Frost, So. Shaftsbury, VT
Frost Place in Franconia, NH
Robert Frost Society established in 1978
Robert Frost collection at Amherst College (on the faculty for 40 years; also University of Michigan, Middlebury, Columbia, Harvard, and Yale, among other places) Hancock’s sculpture is in this collection. Sculpture of Frost by artist Penelope Jencks was unveiled in 2007
A Frost Bouquet: Robert Frost, His Family, and the Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature, a digitized rendering of the 1996 exhibition at University of Virginia
Victor E. Reichert Robert Frost Collection, University at Buffalo
Audio of Frost reading poems, Part III includes Mending Wall or here read and listen to Frost’s voice as he recites Mending Wall:
click the picture to view the interview