Cape Ann Museum 2024

Is there Life After Hopper

By: - Mar 30, 2024

In 2023 the venerable seaport celebrated Gloucester 400th Plus. Cape Ann was overrun with tourism. There was a lot to see and do inducing traffic jams with crowded restaurants.

The Cape Ann Museum was the focus of national media coverage. A major exhibition, the first dedicated to Hopper’s formative development on Cape Ann, marked the pivotal summer of 1923 when Edward Hopper and his future wife, Josephine “Jo” Nivison, visited Gloucester Edward Hopper & Cape Ann.  It opened on Hopper’s birthday, July 22, 2023, and ran through October 16, 2023. It was presented in collaboration with the Whitney Museum of American Art, the major repository of the Hoppers’ work.

“This inaugural partnership with the Whitney Museum of American Art as a leading national institution is a first for the Cape Ann Museum,” said Cape Ann Museum Director Oliver Barker. “Edward Hopper & Cape Ann marks the centennial of the summer of 1923 when Edward Hopper created watercolors that earned his first critical acclaim and laid the foundation for future success as one of the greatest 20th century American landscape painters.”

The exhibition featured 66 works including paintings, drawings, and prints brought together from the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, National Gallery of Art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art and 28 other institutions and private lenders to tell the story of Hopper’s formative years when he experimented with his painting technique, met his future wife, and embarked on a legendary career. The exhibition includes 57 works by Edward Hopper, seven by Jo Hopper, and one by their teacher Robert Henri. 

Following that burst of attention the museum slid back under the radar as an interesting but all too modest regional museum. Having gained such priceless media and professional attention we asked Barker what to expect for the season that unfolds with the special exhibition In the Round: 20th Century Cape Ann Sculpture which opens April 6 from 3 to 5 pm.

Only this past week did news of the summer season get posted to the museum’s website. Other than what follows there is little information and detail for what will be exhibitions of enormous art historical interest.

How egregious that the museum and its seemingly apathetic management and board have squandered the momentum of last season. Launching the new season there is no sizzle to sell the steak.

From the museum’s website.

Drawing on its own collection and from private collections in the region, the Cape Ann Museum will present a special exhibition focusing on sculptors of Cape Ann. Featured will be the work of artists who gravitated around Charles Grafly, one of this country’s premiere sculptors of the early 20th century, including Walker Hancock, George Demetrios and Katharine Lane Weems. Sculptors who in turn followed in their footsteps will also be highlighted, including Lawrence Fane, Aristides Demetrios and James McClellan. As a special feature, the exhibition will include Morgan Faulds Pike’s plaster scale model for The Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Memorial, a monumental bronze sculpture installed on Gloucester’s Stacy Boulevard, in 2001.

(Footnote: There is no mention of Paul Manship and Anna Hyatt Huntington. Are these major sculptors included in the exhibition? If not then why not?)

Image: Lawrence Fane (1933-2008), Folly Cove, 1985, wood. Gift of Dimitri Fane, 2023 [2023.007.01].

The Cape Ann Museum’s collection is extraordinarily rich in artwork by women artists, and the Museum looks forward to spotlighting their accomplishments in a special exhibit opening July 13. Drawing from its own collection, the Collection of Janet and William Ellery James, and from private collections in the region, the Museum’s show will focus on women inspired by this area from the 1870s through the 1970s. Artists to be featured include Audella Della (Beebe) Hyatt (1840-1932), Adelaide Cole Chase (1868-1944), Rosamond Smith Bouvé (1876-1948), Cecilia Beaux (1855-1942) and Martha Walter (1875-1976). A side exhibition will explore the work of assemblage artist Mary Shore (1912-2001) and Ava Matz (1903-1991) who collaborated on the design and production of hand-made hooked rugs.

Complementing this important exhibition will be a display of artwork by contemporary women artists represented in the holdings of the Cape Ann Museum.

(Footnote: No doubt this is an important topic and we would like to see a complete list and images for the artists. Why are the living artists not mentioned? These would include Gabrielle Barzaghi and Susan Erony who have works in the collection. Why does the museum appear to take every opportunity to ignore the current community of artists?)

Image: Mildred Jones (1899-1992), Lady in Blue, Durgin Park, Boston, mid 20th century, oil on canvas. The James Collection. Promised gift of Janet and William Ellery James to the Cape Ann Museum.