BREAKING #GloucesterMA: Passing the legacy– an historic Folly Cove Acorn printing press for the outstanding art department at O’Maley Middle School

Thanks to Mayor Romeo Theken, teacher Brett Dunton, Principal Lucey, and the extreme generosity of Manship Artists Residency & Studios (MARS) under the direction of Rebecca Reynolds, the O’Maley Innovation Middle School ramped up in a powerful fashion with an amazing and enviable addition to the art department:

a rare loan of a Folly Cove Acorn fine art printing press for the art room!

Acorn printing presses were used by Gloucester’s legendary Folly Cove guild of artisans, most notably Virginia Lee Burton, an internationally renowned artist, children’s picture book author-illustrator, dancer, teacher and Folly Cove co-founder. O’Maley students study Gloucester, printmaking, and the history of Folly Cove artists through a myriad of units in each grade and subject, often in partnership with Cape Ann Museum, local artists and other community partners. And now, to have this pedigree press, … Wow! Enjoy some photographs from Brett Dunton from the exciting installation day.

 

teachers Brett Dunton and Ashley Doke with 8th grade students admiring the newly installed famous Acorn press O’Maley Innovation Middle School, Gloucester MA

teachers Brett Dunton and Ashley Doke with 8th grade students admiring the newly installed famous Acorn press O'Maley Innovation Middle School, Gloucester MA

The O’Maley press is one of the last actual Folly Cove presses remaining on Cape Ann. It was owned and used by Elizabeth (Libby) Holoran and Isabel Natti, eventually taking up Holloran’s floor space in the Sarah Elizabeth Store which she opened in 1974. Superstar sculptor, Paul Manship, was Isabel Natti’s grandfather. Aino Natti, Natti’s uncle, was one of the Folly Cove co-founders and the original owner of this particular press. Acorn printing presses were fabricated and distributed by companies like the Adams Brothers in Boston circa 1830-1870. The name “Acorn” comes from the cut away which resembles the shape of an acorn; the presses are RARE and beautiful. One is on view at the Cape Ann Museum.

Mayor Romeo Theken was hopeful that MARS would consider the schools and Gloucester’s students when determing a most suitable location. Teacher Brett Dunton knows Natti and all about this famed press. He was thrilled to build a print room around it and get going. Natti had already given him some of her drying racks. This opportunity would not have happened without MARS working with donors to rescue the press and Mr. Dunton’s expertise and enthusiasm for taking it on. This has to be one of the nicest feel good full circle art stories coming home ever! I look forward to sharing some of the results from the inaugural student printmaking classes, original print editions from this stellar art room addition.

 

 

Can major Gloucester paintings by Edward Hopper and Winslow Homer come back home? Appealing to Bill Gates and private collectors: please remember Gloucester!

Legions of fans visit local, national and international museums to see icons of American 20th century art by Edward Hopper and Winslow Homer. Some of this art was inspired by Gloucester, MA. One more Hopper or Homer Gloucester scene in any collection would be welcome, but in Gloucester it would be transformative.

The City of Gloucester boasts a world class museum that would be the ideal repository for a major Hopper and Homer of Gloucester. It hasn’t happened, yet. It should! I feel not enough of a case has been made for having originals right here in the city that inspired some of their most famous works and changed their art for the better.

Edward Hopper Captain’s House (Parkhurst House), one of the few original Hopper works remaining in private hands, is slated as a promised gift to Arkansas’s Crystal Bridges Museum of  American Art. Crystal Bridges opened in 2011 and will have acquired 4 examples of Hopper’s art — 2 paintings, 1 drawing and 1 print–with this gift. (I think Arkansas would have been ok with 3.)

Edward Hopper Parkhurst's House Captain's House 1924 watercolor private collection 100+ Gloucester homes and vistas inspired Hopper

 

The only known Winslow Homer seascape painting still in private hands is a great one inspired by Gloucester. Bill and Melinda Gates own Lost on the Grand Banks, 1885.  I saw it at the auction house back in 1998 just before the sale.  What a fit for Gloucester and Homer if it found its way back here!

 

Winslow Homer Lost on the Grand Banks 1885

 

Edward Hopper’s Gloucester Street also went to the west coast, purchased by Robert Daly. I’d love to see this one in person! The corner hasn’t changed much since 1928 when Hopper painted the street scene.

 

Gloucester Street edward hopper painting

Gloucester street painted by Edward Hopper TODAY.jpg

 

Hopper’s downtown Gloucester scene, Railroad Gates, is not on public display.

Edward Hopper Railroad Gates Gloucester MA

I’m surprised and hopeful that there are paintings of Gloucester by Hopper that could be secured. There are tens of drawings including major works on paper. I saw this Gloucester drawing, Circus Wagon, by Edward Hopper at the ADAA art Fair back in March 2016.

20160304_153938 (2).jpg

Davis House (25 Middle Street) was sold at auction in 1996.

Edward Hopper Davis House, Middle Street Gloucester MA.jpg

I’m keeping tabs on most of them. The only way they’re going into any museum is through largesse. Why not Gloucester?

Homer and Hopper watercolors in private collections can’t be on permanent view due to the medium’s fragility. (Exciting developments in glazing and displays are being developed that go beyond the protective lift.) The Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA, cares for works of art as well as any institution.