The Rockport Public Library maintains a wonderful art collection. When visiting the temporary Once Upon a Contest: Selections from Cape Ann Reads in the children’s room and the special Betty Allenbrook Wiberg installation, don’t miss the genius Mother Goose 1938 bronze by Richard H. Recchia, and the Sam Hershey WPA-era mural, Rockport Goes to War, 1939.
The new Josh Falk mural (2019) is behind the Rockport Public Library.
Genius design bronze by Richard H. Recchia, Mother Goose, 1938
at the Rockport Public Library
This impression is annotated by the artist as a “sketch model sculpture by R. H. Recchia” (1888-1983). The sculpture rotates to illustrate the rhymes and beautifully expresses how children are captivated by stories. The sculpture is a tribute to his wife, Kitty Parsons (1889-1976), artist & writer, and one of the original founders of Rockport Art Assoc. It was originally situated within the library’s former smaller digs: the Rockport’s Carnegie Library established in 1906, a Beaux-Arts beauty around the corner, now a private home. It was one of 43 Carnegie libraries built in Massachusetts. In 1993 the library moved to its current site in an 1880s mill building, the Tarr School, thanks to the Denghausen bequest.
Parsons & Recchia resided and worked at their home “Hardscrabble” at 6 Summer Street in Rockport. (Rockport was their permanent address from 1928 till his death.) Recchia was born in Quincy. His dad was a stone carver from Verona who worked for Bela Pratt and Daniel Chester French. Later, Recchia was Pratt’s assistant.
For more bas relief examples by Recchia, see his Bela Pratt in the Yale collection, digitized entry here ) Recchia public sculptures are on permanent display at the Rockport Art Association & Museum. More photos below.
snippet video of Recchia Mother Goose sculpture rotating
click/double click on photos to enlarge photos to actual size (or pinch and zoom) | hover to read caption
Sam Hershey WPA mural, 1939
Sam Hershey Rockport Goes to War featured Rockport Public Library; W. Lester Stevens WPA mural Preparing Rockport for Granite dating from the same year is across the street in the Post Office
American Impressionist: Childe Hassam and the Isle of Shoals at the Peabody Essex Museum closes today. It’s one of the best exhibitions I saw this year. Go — there’s still time today. You will come nearly as close as any observer can to feeling the rapturous meeting of an artist’s take with the shimmering world.
Hassam’s paintings don’t reproduce well in books, or photography. They need to be addressed– sized up, walked towards. Inhaled.
This approach is beneficial even if you study just one. But my, what luxury seeing so many in one place at one time. Again and again, the show brought forth connections and insight.”Funny, I hadn’t seen that before,” I found myself thinking. Artists Howard Hodgkin and Lucian Freud came to mind.
The exhibition features more than 40 Hassam oil paintings and watercolors of the eastern seaboard dating from the late 1880s to 1912–an Isle of Shoals painting reunion, with secrets revealed. The Peabody Essex Museum and the North Carolina Museum of Art co-organized and partnered with marine scientists at Shoals Marine Laboratory, Cornell University, and the University of New Hampshire. Their new research examined all the sites on the island, and Hassam’s painting process. I liked the research, the pacing of the installation, and the thoughtful viewshed. Besides the two museums, loans came from near and mostly far such as: private collections from coast to coast (which I’d never see); the Portland Museum of Art; Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis; Yale (Sinclair Lewis gifted that one to Yale!); Wichita Art Museum; Toledo Museum of Art; Smith; Smithsonian; and the National Gallery of Art. Basically all painting is abstraction: I relished the chance to study so many in one spot.
I was not a fan of the piped in sound, nor all the wall paint choices as my senses were already acutely challenged by observation. My disdain for the canned ambient sound was so distracting, I had to leave. On my second visit, the scent of coconut wafted out the entrance. My goodness, have they piped in fake scent like a boutique hotel or experiential attraction, too? They hadn’t. It was my overreaction in the wake of another visitor’s adornment, a lingering fragrance, perhaps sunscreen on a summer day.
Tucked away within the Hassam exhibit was a good photo installation of Alexandra de Steiguer’s work as the Isles winter keeper– for 19 years! For anyone who wondered more about life as a keeper after reading The Light Between Oceans, de Steiguer wrote about her real experiences here, http://connected.pem.org/alone-on-an-island/. It’s beautiful!