Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More Rockport reminiscences

Rockport from Front Beach. Bearskin neck is the spit of land on the left. Notice the red granite in the foreground. Rockport was aquarying town in the 19th and early 20th century and this hard red granite was exported all over for building bridgges monuments and office buildings.
There is another Encyclopedia of Dumb Design Ideas post ready for tomorrow or the next day. but it seems like I am on a theme here. I will talk a little about the art colony as it was in the early eighties. THis may read a little like a laundry list, and you may not know many of the names here. But it is useful that they get written down.I don't know that anyone has written anything about Rockport during this era. Rockport was past its heyday but there was still a a lot going on there.
Here are some of the artists who had galleries at the time.
  • Paul Strisik ( National Academy)
  • Tom Nicolas (National AScademy) -T.M. Nicholas
  • David and Line Tutwieler and Charles Vickery
  • John Caggianno (opened a year before me)
  • Bruce Turner
  • Lou Burnett and Martha Moore
  • Dorothy Ramsey and Mike Stoffa
  • Al Ruben
  • Ferdinand Petrie
  • Wayne Morell
  • Joe Santoro (on Railroad ave) also National Academician.
  • Shumacher (deceased but still showing seascapes)
  • Charlie Stepule
  • Nathalie Nordstrand
  • Betty Lou Schlemm
  • Mildred Jones (on a side street, later ran over her close friend Marian Williams Steele in the parking lot of ther Rockport National Bank, almost killing her.
  • Allenbrook a portrait painter, I never knew him.
  • Domenic Demari
  • Don Mosher, Christine Mosher
  • Stilson
  • Dorothy Robbins
  • Sven Orville Carlson
  • John Terelak and Martin Ahearn
  • Rudy Colao, Pam Fox and Fred MacNeil
  • Peter Vincent
  • Al Czerepak
  • Helen Van Wyck home and teaching studio
  • Charles Gordon Marston
  • Jack Callahan was around but I think had given up his gallery.
There were as many more in Gloucester a couple miles away. Artists like Charles Movalli, Dale Radcliff, Ken Gore and Bertnie Gerstner, Ward Man and more I have forgotten. There was also Roger Curtis painting seascape and Cheslie D'Andrea painting fishing boats and marines. Bernard Corey was member of the Art Association so I saw him around some. There were other galleries, I have forgotten some I am sure, and there were even more artists who didn't keep galleries. I knew all of these artists well, except for Stilson and Allenbrook. There was a lot of community and we knew one another through the Art Association and the grocery store. The artists spent a lot of time standing around on the street in front of their shops and if you walked around town you would stop to talk.Openings and artists demonstrations drew crowds at the Rockport Association on summer nights. After dark the streets were full of strolling locals mixed into the tourist trade. There was a lot of interaction. Again, we were all SMIMMING in people most of the time. I always walked in the street because the tourists on the sidewalks stumbled along in a daze.

Ellens Harborside restaurant was a good affordable place to have a seafood dinner and I often saw artists there. Alan Davidson and Lucien Geraci were always there together. In the summer Charles Vickery came to town and occasionally sat down at my easel and painted seascape demos for me. Joe Santoro used to come in and put his arm around me, very Italian. He was a watercolorist and a member of the Guild and a National Academician. Walker Hancock another Academician was still making sculpture in nearby Lanesville I was invited to draw the figure in his studio with a small group several times a few years later.

There were a lot of soms and daughters of artists from the previous generations still around. There were Elaine Hibbard, Aldro's daughter, John Manship who was Pauls Manships son. And The Beals, Ren, Bill and Telka. Ren was the grandson of Renolds Beal and the nephew of Gifford Beal. I believe he was related to Stow Wengenroth too. Richard Kuehne the son of Max Kuehne the American impressionist and gilder.

Harry Ballinger was still around and I met him on painting jury for the art association I think he was about a hundred. His seascape painting book is still a classic. Marshall Joyce still sent watercolors to the shows at the Association. There were also some good retired illustrators around at the time, like John Wentworth and some GI combat artists. My head is spinning, there were so many artists there at that time,Not all were great, but just the energy of so many people painting in such a small town was exciting . Painting was the industry of Rockport. Most or all of these names may mean nothing to you but they are who was around in Rockport at that time. Aldro Hibbard, Anthony Cirino and Lester Stevens, and Carl Peters were more or less recently deceased when I arrived.

There was also an army of retire commercial artists making art in their retirement and top flight amateurs trying to ramp themselves up to professional. Every summer also brought visiting artists from around the country, come to see what Rockport was like. I met a number of artists from around the nation while sitting in my shop.

I started going on painting trips to Vermont with some of the older guys, Tom Nicholas, John Terelak and Don Mosher I think this might have been a little later. I did paint landscapes a lot with Bruce Turner.

With a few exceptions everyone on the above list is dead. If in 1983 I had made a list of the established Rockport artists I could have listed thirty or more. Today, all but a handful are gone. I guess I should have thought about that coming, then, but I didn't. Many of them could tell stories of painting with Frank Dumnond or studying with Soyer or Brachman at the Art Students League before the second World War. A few knew Gruppe and Hibbard. A few old women had studied with William Merrit Chase. Genevieve Wilhelms, who I hardly knew, hung out with John Sloan and Edward Hopper, I think. Many could describe the art colony during the fifties when it was really full of artists and many of that great first generation were still alive. I should probably write down more of this stuff as it will be lost and forgotten soon.

12 comments:

Dot Courson said...

After reading both posts about Stephanie and then this...I've decided this isn't a book - it's a MOVIE. It's wonderful and mesmerizing.
If I were walking on the sidewalk listening to it being read, you definitely would have to take the street...

Philip Koch said...

I wonder what the collective opinion among the Rockport artists of the '80's was of the artists who lived in Provincetown, MA? That's a town I know a bit but Rockport is still on my to-do list.

mariandioguardi.com said...

My first memorable trip to Bearskin Neck and Rockport was in the late 50's. I was taken up as a companion to my friend over a summer 's week at Wingersheek Beach. It was my first time away from parents and home.

We went to the artist colony...and that's when I figured artists must be a very different breed if they had to live in little houses all together and kept away from the general population at large. I was selling my own art work then for a nickel a piece. ( You are who you were.) I knew I was doomed.

willek said...

Yeah, but what did they SAY!? Vickery came in and demoed with you, but what about the others? Did you talk about other pictures? Did you converse about composition?, Color Pallets? Easels? How to lay on the paint? Or did they complain about failing eyesight and arthritis?

Mary Byrom said...

Yes, Dot I agree with you . A movie ! Stape you can make some really big bucks on this story. Its fascinating.
And Willek - good questions. Just what did they say and do? I think this time you were there still had bits of the era before...now it is gone.

sarahsbooks said...

Nice to hear your memories of Joe Santoro. My mother was his next door neighbor in Cambridge, MA, and in fact one of my sisters has the middle name Joy, after his daughter. I have a large coastal watercolor of his, hanging up here in Maine.

You *are* writing a book - in short chapters! You have enough on this blog to put it all together someday, or even have an editor sift through and do it for you. Don't wait too long...

billspaintingmn said...

Stape! Your roots run deep. It takes a sense of purpose and a love for it to continue as you do.

It's not so much what your looking at as how you see it.

JonInFrance said...

What I keep thinking is, these were real people, with their lives... ..not just names, Stephanie's story was moving - and uplifting

Belinda Del Pesco said...

Wow. You've got my memories going; I lived in Rockport for two summers in the early 80's, and worked on Bearskin Neck - at a glass blowing shop and various other places. I used to pose for Ohrvel Carlson. Lived across the street from his studio, where he and his wife Carol would bake 30+ loaves of amazing bread in a day and hand it out to the neighborhood. He played his violin a lot too, and came to the quarries with us to swim & paint watercolor studies of granite & water (& all of us) which left everyone standing there watching in awe of his talent. There's a portrait of Ellen at Ellen's Restaurant that my mother did in the 70's. My friends and I used to sit at the Headlands and sketch in the late afternoons. You're right: the place just oooozed Art. We were too young to appreciate the density, variety and openness of talent there at the time, but I'll never forget it. Thanks for writing about it and waking up my memories.

Deb said...

Like everyone, I'm really enjoying this journey back into Rockport.
And, like Willek, I'd love to know what you all talked about.
Do you miss it? Nobody in their right mind would open a gallery these days, so I imagine you wouldn't dream of doing THAT again....

MCGuilmet said...

Stape, Sarahsbooks is exactly right. Don't sweat the book, it is writing itself. Just keep sweating the blog. When you are done you'll have enough material for several books from several angles; a painters life, instructional, historical, or any mixture you wish. You probably have enough good material(with editing and some fleshing out) for two good books already.

For any readers interested in looking them up, there were three more Rockport posts equally fun: One on August 27,2009, and then on September 9 & 10, 2009.

Stape, in one of those posts(10/09)you mention "I also saw the Cirino estate. Antonio Cirinos system of placing highlights and accents lives on in my own painting." I'm not sure I recall this "system" in any post. Would be interesting to read about when the spirit moves you. Theres some description in the 7/30/09 "Hows and Whys" post, but not sure it's the Cirino method you mention.

DBP said...

John C. Terelak, Stape.I should know I was his first student at the old Gloucester Academy. Ha,ha got ya on spelling!
I have enjoyed reading about the good old days!