Tag Archives: Dogtown
Christies, the New York auction power house is currently marketing the Peggy and David Rockefeller art collection across the (art)world–Hong Kong, London, and Los Angeles– before the spring 2018 live sale back in New York. The collection includes a painting by American artist, Edward Hopper (1882-1967), that was inspired by Gloucester: Cape Ann Granite is one of the rare Hopper paintings remaining that’s not currently held in a museum. There are more than 110 Gloucester houses and vistas depicted by Edward Hopper.
Advance promotion of Christie’s upcoming Rockefeller auction have yet to illustrate the painting, although the artist’s recognizable name is mentioned in every press release and the painting is included in the world tour highlights exhibit. The catalogue for the sale is not ready.
Former owners of Cape Ann Granite have in common connections to Harvard, banking and art collecting
Billionaire and philanthropist, David Rockefeller (1915-2017), was a Harvard graduate and longtime CEO of Chase Manhattan bank (later JP Morgan Chase). His art appreciation began early, influenced by both parents and the Rockefeller family collections. His father was the only son of John D. Rockefeller, a co-founder of Standard Oil Corp. His mother, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (1874-1948), helped establish the Museum of Modern Art, and the fund in her name helped secure Hopper’s Corner Saloon for the permanent collection. Several family members were Trustees. After his mother’s death, David took her Trustee seat.
Like David Rockefeller, the first owner to acquire Cape Ann Granite was a Harvard graduate, art collector and financier, about the same age as Rockefeller’s parents, and Hopper. Benjamin Harrison Dibblee (1876 – 1945) was the scion of California businessman, Albert Dibblee. The family estate “Fernhill” was built in 1870 in Ross, California (later the Katharine Branson School). Benjamin H Dibblee was a Harvard graduate (1895-1899), an All-American Crimson football player (halfback and Team Captain), and head coach (1899-1900). W.H. Lewis, a famous center rush, was the Assistant Coach. (Harvard football dominated under this coaching team. See the standings below the “read more’ break.) In 1909, Dibblee donated his father’s historic papers concerning California’s secret Civil War group “The Home Guard of 1861” including its muster roll and pledge of loyalty to Lincoln and the Union cause. Dibblee was an alternate delegate from California to the Republican National Convention in 1912. As a Lt. Col. he was listed as one of five California committee members for the American Legion in 1919. He was a big wheel investment banker at EH Rollins & Sons, a firm impacted by the Wall Street crash of 1929.
It’s fun to think about Dibblee possibly visiting Gloucester during his time at Harvard, like so many students and faculty; then, decades later, acquiring a major Hopper because it was both a modern masterpiece, and a Gloucester landscape.
The Hopper Cape Ann Granite painting has me itching to research all Crimson team photos– not simply varsity nor football circa 1895-97– because of the (remote) chance of another Gloucester-Harvard and athletic connection. In 1895 Dibblee was involved with sports at Harvard at the same time as author and Olympian, James Connolly. In 1899 both were involved with football; Dibblee as the Harvard coach and Connolly as Gloucester’s athletic director and football player**. Maybe they scrimmaged. Maybe they scrimmaged in Gloucester.
Hopper’s artist inventory log pages for ‘1928 oils’ itemizes Cape Ann Granite as follows: “Sent on from Gloucester September 27, 1928, 3 canvases. Cape Ann Granite, 29 x 40, Green picture on hill with rocks. Fresh green in foreground. Slanting shadows cast by rocks and boulders. Sky blue with clouds. Small tree on R. BH Mr. Dibblee 49 Wall Streeet of San Francisco (Lived near 14 miles from San Francisco. Knows Alex Baldwin in Calif. (SanFrancisco) 1500 -1/3. 1000 on June 5, 194 ”
The pencil annotation “Modern Masters EH 1933” accompanying the thumbnail sketch for the painting on the right of this entry may be mixed up. There was a “Modern Masters” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) held in 1940 but it did not include this painting on the checklist. There was an Edward Hopper Retrospective held at MoMA October 30–December 8 in 1933 that did list this Gloucester painting, and the lender, Dibblee. (Incidentally, two other 1928 oils catalogued on that same inventory page, Manhattan Bridge Loop and Freightcars Gloucester, would both end up in the Addison Gallery collection at Phillips Academy.)
The Pure Landscapes
Excerpts from the 1933 MoMa Hopper retrospective exhibition catalogue:
“…When Hopper went to art school the swagger brushstroke of such painters as Duveneck, Henri, and Chase was much admired. Perhaps as a reaction against this his own brushwork has grown more and more modest until it is scarcely noticeable. He shuns all richness of surface save where it helps him to express a particular sensation…in spite of his matter-of-factness, Hopper is a master of pictorial drama. But his actors are rarely human: the houses and thoroughfares of humanity are there, but they are peopled more often by fire hydrants, lamp posts, barber poles and telegraph poles than by human beings. When he does introduce figures among his buildings they often seem merely incidental. Perhaps during his long years as an illustrator he grew tired drawing obviously dramatic figures for magazines. Hopper has painted a few pictures in which there are neither men nor houses. The pure landscapes Cape Ann Granite (9), Hills, South Truro (16), Camel’s Hump (22) occupy a place apart in his work. they reveal a power which is diconcertingly hard to analyze. Cezanne and Courbet and John Crome convey sometimes a similar depth of feeling towards the earth and nature…” Alfred Barr, 1933
“In its most limited sense, modern art would seem to concern itself only with the technical innovations of the period. In its larger and to me irrevocable sense it is the art of all time; of definite personalites that remain forever modern by the fundamental truth that is in them. It makes Moliere at his greatest as new as Ibsen, or Giotto as modern as Cezanne.” Edward Hopper, 1933
Yale owns a related watercolor by Edward Hopper, Cape Ann Pasture
Proceeds from the sale of the Peggy and David Rockefeller art collection at Christies next spring will benefit 10 selected charities. Perhaps a magnanimous collector might consider this Hopper Dogtown purchase for the Cape Ann Museum, a philanthropic twofer in this case, and needed. Cape Ann Museum does not possess a Hopper Gloucester painting and if any musuem should, it’s CAM. We need to eventually guide back the Hopper painting Gloucester Street, too.
To date Christie’s auction house has promoted primarily a Picasso and Matisse as the star lots from this collection of masterpieces because of their hefty valuation. The presale estimate for the Matisse Odalisque couchée aux magnolias (1923) is 50 million. The Picasso painting, Fillette à la corbeille fleurie (1905), a “Rose period Masterwork”, is estimated to top 70 million. The presale estimate for the Hopper is 6 million to 8 million.
The Picasso was diplayed in the libary of the Rockefeller Upper East Side mansion at 146 East 65th Street. Its first owners were Gertrude and Leo Stein. Gertrude Stein hated it though her brother bought it anyway. After Alice B. Toklas (Stein’s partner) died in 1965, MoMa trustees drew lots and were offered first pass on the legendary Stein collection. David Rockefeller won first pick, and selected the Picasso. I wonder how it will fare in this #metoo awakening. At the time of her death, Toklas had long been evicted from their Paris home as she had no legal standing nor benefit from any estate sales.
Stephanie Benenson HARBOR VOICES light show #GloucesterMA | immigration, conversation & acts of generosity manifest as public art
You can join in Stephanie Benenson’s fascinating big vision, Harbor Voices, a public art and cultural piece that’s made from light, sound and community participation. Part of the project is a large-scale and temporary LIVE light & sound installation which will happen on ten minute loops from 4-8pm on Friday December 8th, and Saturday December 9th, one of many featured events for the 2017 Middle Street Walk. Harbor Voices will be held inside the Kyrouz Auditorium in City Hall , 9 Dale Avenue, Gloucester, MA.
Come experience a sweeping ocean of sound, stories and light, drawn by the voices and acts of generosity of neighbors and friends.
Benenson, a Rockport native and North Shore based fine artist, received a prestigious and competitive RISD grant to create Harbor Voices. Benenson collected over 100 stories in eight languages of recent and ancestral immigration to Cape Ann. For the past year she led (and continues to lead) practical and creative storytelling sessions and workshops at area schools like Veteran’s Memorial and Gloucester High School, as well as community organizations and centers such as Sandy Bay Historical Society. Students talked with Benenson about “their ancestors* and families bringing cultural heritage to Cape Ann.” She said that kids mentioned “family members that started businesses here (like Jalapenos, Sclafanis, and other cultural destinations on Cape Ann)…and how meangingful that was to them…and people that they had deep respect and admiration for…” They discussed “family recipes, music, food and how immigration historically has made American art and culture come alive.” Mayor Romeo Theken was the first story collected. Other Cape Ann storytellers outside of the schools and non profit partners include: Jean Testaverde (Portuguese fishing ancestry), Ingrid Swan (Swedith quarrying ancestry), Heather Lovett (descendent of Roger Babson), Sal Zerilli (Awesome Gloucester and Rockport), Jan Bell, Buddy Woods, Susannah Natti (Finnish and descendent of Folly Cove designer), Rich Francis (GHS teacher), and Celestino Basille (GHS teacher).
Depending upon age and preference, stories were written, recorded, or drawn. All were mixed into materials and audio that will choreograph connections directly into the light installation, and an enlarging community. At first, Benenson thought the light might guide any audio. Instead voices continue to guide the light.
Every story and act of generosity is linked to the installation and transformed into light.
Blurring the lines between public art and social sculpture, LIVE happening and virtual action, Harbor Voices emblematically presents stories, shared connections and actions. Participants of all ages are encouraged to interact with the project www.harborvoices.com and its installation– to bathe so to speak in a community of vibrancy and waves of interconnectedness and support. Benenson adds that from 4-6PM during the two days of this installation iteration, “children will be offered a small flashlight to engage with this artwork, allowing them a tangible moment to consider their part in this interconnected network of community and local history by creating their own beam of light.” Also, before the installation opens to the public, one hundred Gloucester High School students –including some who have already added into the piece– will come to City Hall to experience Harbor Voices.
Benenson’s promotion for Harbor Voices launched in September. Leveraging attention for this remarkably ambitious project is an essential component as more involvement means more impact. Straight away it fostered community and brought opportunities. For example, Benenson spoke about the project and shared audio of the stories with Rose Baker seniors, Gloucester Rotary and the Cape Ann Museum’s Red Cottage Society. Someone from Beverly has already underwrittten support for a class at Veteran’s Memorial Elementary School. She spoke about the project with Joey as part of GMG podcast #253
As a third generation Cape Ann artist, Benenson is especially excited to “create art and conversations around our cultural heritage and our contributions to the vibrant mix of people that live on Cape Ann.”
See more pictures and read more about the artist
Reminder- Dogtown could be eligible for the National Register. A team of archaeologists began surveying and reviewing Dogtown the week of November 13. Come to a special public presentation TONIGHT – November 29th in Kyrouz Auditorium, Gloucester City Hall, 9 Dale Avenue, at 7pm.
Oct 28 GMG post announcing tonight’s public meeting: Before Dogtown was Dogtown: archaeological survey project to be presented at City Hall November 29! Maybe hello blueberries bye bye lyme disease
“Presenters at City Hall on Nov 29th will include Betsy Friedberg from the Massachusetts Historical Commission, who will explain how the National Register program works and what it does and does not do, and Kristen Heitert from the PAL, who will present an initial plan for defining the boundaries of Dogtown as a National Register District. People attending the meeting will be asked to respond to that plan and to express their views about what makes Dogtown special. What should be the boundaries of the proposed National Register District, and what cultural features should be included in it? What would be the benefits of National Register status, and are there any drawbacks?”
Before Dogtown was Dogtown: Archaeological Survey project to be presented at City Hall November 29! Maybe hello blueberries bye bye Lyme Disease
Dogtown is eligible for the National Register! Will Gloucester earn another major district designation?
Nov 29th, 7PM, Public Meeting
Come to a special public presentation November 29th in Kyrouz Auditorium in Gloucester City Hall, 9 Dale Avenue, at 7pm.
Read excerpts from the press release shared by Bill Remsen, local project coordinator, and Mary Ellen Lepionka, co-chair Gloucester Historical Commission, and some Dogtown maps and memorabilia 1633-1961:
The blanketing New England autumn is stronger on the walls at Cape Ann Museum than the fall landscape all around us just now. (When I saw this ravishing exhibit at the beginning of June, I had that same feeling about ‘summer’.) Though the seasons of color may disappoint us one year to the next, the impact of these paintings only intensifies with close observation. This is a show for anyone with an interest in painting. Rockbound at Cape Ann Museum features a terrific variety of iconic Cape Ann seacoast scenes and artists. There’s an added urgency to see the show in person: most are on loan from private collections, shown together for the first time. Come fill your eyes and heart before this exclusive opportunity passes by.
Rockbound: Painting the American Scene on Cape Ann and Along the Shore closes October 29th.The Cape Ann Museum “gratefully acknowledges the many collectors* who lent to this exhibition and the following individuals: Mary Craven, Margaret Pearson, John Rando and Arthur Ryan.” *anonymous private lenders, Endicott College, Roswitha and William Trayes, JJ and Jackie Bell, and others
(The wonderful Fitz Henry Lane exhibition that just opened will be on view through March 4, 2018.)
3 works by W Lester Stevens
I think that the “Unattributed decorative mirror for over mantel” may be the hand of artist Frederick Stoddard. Perhaps it’s from a series or the “Morning Mantle Decoration by Fred L. Stoddard” that’s listed in the 1923 Gloucester Society of Artists inaugural exhibition.
Artists include Yarnall Abbott, Gifford Beal, George Bellows, Theresa Berenstein, Hugh Breckenridge, Stuart Davis, Marsden Hartley, Aldro Hibbard, Max Kuehne, Emma Fordyce Macrae, Margaret Patterson, Lester Stevens, Anthony Thieme, and more (hover over image to see artist information)
photos pairings below: Finding Cape Ann Museum Rockbound color/mood inspiration just outside in Gloucester October vistas (not literal place/time pairings but that could be done as well!)
What if…a section of Dogtown brush was cleared away? If you missed Chris Leahy at Sawyer Free Library last week come to a summit by Essex County Greenbelt & Mass Audubon at Cape Ann Museum March 4
“This Saturday morning forum is offered in collaboration with Essex County Greenbelt, Friends of Dogtown, Lanesville Community Center and Mass Audubon and held at Cape Ann Museum. The forum will be moderated by Ed Becker, President of the Essex County Greenbelt Association.”
UPDATE: Cape Ann TV is scheduled to film the event!
Chris Leahy gave a presentation at Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Library on February 23, 2017: Dogtown- the Biography of a Landscape: 750 Million Years Ago to the Present
A photographic history through slides presented by the Gloucester Lyceum and the Friends of the Library. Mary Weissblum opened the program.
Chris broadly covered the history of the local landscape from an ecological bent with a bias to birds and blueberry picking, naturally. New England is a patchwork of forested landscapes. He stressed the evolution of bio diversity and succession phenomenon when the earth and climate change. “Nature takes a lot of courses.” He focused on Dogtown, “a very special place”, and possible merits of land stewardship geared at fostering greater biodiversity. Perhaps some of the core acres could be coaxed to grasslands as when parts of Gloucester were described as moors? Characteristic wildlife, butterflies, and birds no longer present may swing back. There were many philosophical takeaways and tips: he recommends visiting the dioramas “Changes in New England Landscape” display at Harvard Forest HQ in Petersham.
“Isolation of islands is a main driver of evolution”
“Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Worcester has the highest concentration* of native butterflies in all of Massachusetts because of secondary habitats.” *of Mass Audubon’s c.40,000 acres of wildlife sanctuaries statewide. “The fact that Brook Meadow Brook is in greater Worcester, rather than a forested wilderness, underscores the value of secondary habitats.”
“1830– roughly the time of Thoreau (1817-1862)– was the maximum period of clearing thus the heyday for grasslands…As farmsteads were abandoned, stages of forests return.”
Below are photos from February 23, 2017. I added some images of art inspired by Dogtown. I also pulled out a photograph by Frank L Cox, David Cox’s father, of Gallery on the Moors (then) compared with a photo of mine from 2011 to illustrate how the picturesque description wasn’t isolated to Dogtown.
Louise Upton Brumback (1867-1929), Dogtown- Cape Ann, 1920 oil on canvas
Dylan L’Abbe-Lindquist serving Cape Ann Brew Pub Dier Beer
Although it sounded so interesting, I very unfortunately missed the Dogtown Days lecture program held at the Cape Ann Museum as I was covering the Rockport Harvestfest (we oftentimes say on GMG that we are incredibly blessed that here on Cape Ann we have an embarrassment of riches in wonderful and worthwhile things to do and see). I did however attend the reception held afterward at the Sawyer Free. This is the second annual Dogtown Days event sponsored by the group of citizens Friends of Dogtown, a relatively newly formed outfit dedicated to restoring, protecting, and celebrating Dogtown, along with the far reaching goals to construct a visitor’s center and to help mitigate the ongoing misuse of the landscape.
Mary Weissblum’s Swamp Cake
Two of the highlights of the reception were Mary Weissblum’s Swamp Cake and Cape Ann Brew Pub’s colonial Dier Beer, both made with ingredients mentioned in historical accounts of Dogtown. Mary is going to provide GMG readers with the Swamp Cake recipe, spiced with ginger and nutmeg, and super delicious. Dylan L’Abbe-Lindquist’s Dier beer was outstanding and is going to be available at the Brew Pub in about a week. The brew was richly dark, made chocolatey in color almost, from the molasses and special carmelized flavored hops. Most amazingly, Dylan and his wife, along with their little baby, scoured Dogtown trails for authentic ingredients, which include Staghorn Sumac, winterberries, cranberries, and beach plums–it truly is a wonderfully flavorful brew. Ask for it at the Brew Pub, you won’t be disappointed.
Kit Cox and Dylan
Today is the 123rd anniversary of James Merry’s unfortunate encounter with a neighbor’s bull, Jack. It is recounted in Charles Olson’s renowned poem and is permanently memorialized in Dogtown, where it all occurred.
Thanks to Paul Morrison for the reminder.
From MAXIMUS, FROM DOGTOWN-I
Originally posted October 18, 2010
Below is a blurb describing some graffiti removal work around Gloucester yesterday.
I wonder if your GMG readers might help us identify other areas around Gloucester for future clean-ups.
Nick, Cape Ann Trail Stewards
The Essex County Anti Graffiti unit was in town this Wednesday morning to clean up the Sawyer Library and sites in West Gloucester and at the Cherry Street entrance to Dogtown.
The clean up team, led by Sergeant Christopher Goudreault, uses a combination of high pressure water and baking soda to remove paint from various surface.
Here is a before and after view of a utility building along Concord Street near the new Exit 13 entrance to Greenbelt’s Tompson Street Reservation.
Below are before and after photos from the Bray Street entrance to Tompson Reservation and the entrance to Dogtown.
Thanks to Mary Devaney of Rockport’s Anti-graffiti task force and to the Gloucester Department of Public Works and Gloucester Police Department and Sawyer Library Director Fred Cowan for coordinating this work.
Nick Holland, President, Cape Ann Trail Stewards
James Merry was a fisher man back in days of yore
But he left the blue in ninety-two for the trade of matador
So he got a bull and he raised it up full
And he learned the corrida lore
Then he died like a toad on the Dogtown Road
Bleeding from a stomach gore
-by Shep Abbott
Lots of beauty in the details!
These were photographed in Dogtown.
P.S. I still have more 2nd hand stores to talk about! Coming soon!