Thursday, February 9, 2017

North Shore Arts Association at 95: A Sculpture Garden of Luminaries

"Portrait of Finnish Youth" Walter Hancock
“The primary impulse in the Arts is to give permanence to the fleeting moment, to bid it stay, because we cannot bear to lose it.”- Paul Manship, sculptor

Many illustrious artists came together in Gloucester, in summer of 1922, to become the driving force behind the formation of the North Shore Arts Association. Cape Ann was beginning to gain national recognition as a major art colony. L.M. Vincent states "the artistic boundaries between Gloucester and Rockport were porous" with many artists holding active memberships at both art associations and also at major institutions in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and other large cities, a situation which continues even today. In the early years, it wasn't unusual for both North Shore Arts Association and Rockport Art Association to hold joint exhibitions in various venues in the Boston area.
*In Search of Motif No.1: The History of a Fish Shack, L.M. Vincent

This post highlights just a few of the major nationally and internationally recognized sculptors who are past artist members, many of whom were among the Founding Members of the NSAA.

"Girl on a Rock", George M. Aarons
George Manuel Aarons (1896-1980) emigrated from Russia at the age of ten. He attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, later moving to NYC to complete his studies. Eventually, he returned to the Boston area, establishing studios in Brookline and Gloucester, where he lived until his death in 1980. George was among the distinguished, early 20th century sculptors who started their careers as academicians and evolved into modernists and increasingly abstract artists. His work ranges in scale and scope from domestic to numerous monumental, public commissions throughout the US, France, and Israel.

George Demetrios
(1896-1974) emigrated from his native Macedonia to the US in 1911. He studied under Charles Grafly at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and finished his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. Returning to Boston, George
"Gloucester Harbor", George Demetrios
taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where he met his wife Virginia Lee Burton. The young couple came to Lanesville to live and work, an area where Charles Grafly had summered. Mr. Demetrios won the Thomas R. Proctor prize for the best portrait in sculpture at the National Academy of Design's 125th Anniversary exhibition. In 1968, together with Walter Hancock, George was awarded the 75th Anniversary Medal of the National Sculpture Society. The artist is quoted as stating, "To me, the only artist is the independent artist, whose function in life is to contribute a perception of the times in which he lives, in the only international language in the world; namely understandable art by all"

Walter K. Hancock (1901-1989) Born in St. Louis, Hancock studied with Charles Grafly at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art. Grafly introduced Hancock to Gloucester,
"Angel of the Resurrection"
Pennsylvania RR War Memorial by Walter Hancock
and eventually named Hancock to be his successor as sculpture master at the Pennsylvania Academy. Hancock made his home in the Lanesville section of Gloucester and devoted his long and distinguished career to depictions of the human figure. His numerous monumental sculptures include the Pennsylvania Railroad War Memorial, in Philadelphia and the Stone Mountain Memorial in Georgia. His works are found in the Library of Congress, West Point, the Great American Hall of Fame and the National Cathedral.

"Joan of Arc" Anna Hyatt Huntington
Anna Hyatt Huntington (1896-1973) Founding Member NSAA Born in Cambridge, MA Anna's father was a professor of paleontology and zoology at Harvard University and MIT, and certainly was a contributing factor to her early interest in animals and animal anatomy. She studied with H.H.Kitson in Boston and later at the Art Students League in NYC. Anna was soon recognized as among the most prominent sculptors in New York city. Her work, combining vivid emotional depth and skillful realism brought her great acclaim at home and abroad. In 1915 she was the first woman in this country to create a public monument. Her work was erected in New York City, outside of Central Park. She was among the first women to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Academy of Design and the National Sculpture Society. Married to Archer Milton Huntington, the wealthy couple shared many common interests and together founded Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina, founded 14 museums, 4 wildlife preserves, and supported innumerable charitable causes.

"Persian Gazelle Hound" Amelia Peabody

Amelia Peabody (1890-1984) Born in Marblehead, MA, Amelia Peabody was a sculptor were animals, figures, and portraits. Living in Boston, she studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts with Charles Grafly and also was a student at the Archipenko School of Art and Northeastern University, where she earned an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree. In Boston, she was chairman of Arts and Skills for the American Red Cross. Ms. Peabody's preferred media were stone, bronze, and ceramics. She exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts 1922-1924, the Art Institute of Chicago in 1931, and the Boston Sculpture Society.

"Baby and Frog" Richard Recchia
Richard Recchia (1885-1960) Richard was born in Quincy, MA. His father, a marble carver, instructed Richard in his craft as a youth. Richard attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and during his student years and beyond assisted and worked in the studio of Bela Lyon Pratt. His mentors, B.L. Pratt, and Chester David French encouraged Recchia to travel and study in Europe. In 1927, upon returning from an extended residency in Paris and in Rome, Recchia moved to Rockport. There he met and married watercolorist and poet Mary Catherine Parsons, where both were very active in the artistic community and lived until Richard's death in 1960.

"Bessie" Katharine Lane Weems
Katharine Lane Weems (1899-1989) Famous for her realistic portrayals of animals, Weems was born in Boston and studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. She lived and worked for much of her adult life in Manchester, MA. Her monumental works in bronze include the much loved "Dolphins of the Sea" at the New England Aquarium, Boston, Ma. and the sculpture of the Asian hippopotamus,"Bessie', the original owned by Harvard University and a second casting residing outside the Elephant House at The Bronx Zoo.

Ulysses A. Ricci (1888-1960) Born in New York City, Ricci was apprenticed as a young man at the Perth Amboy Terra Cotta Works from 1902-1906. He left to attend the Cooper Union and studied at the Art Students League with James Earle Fraser and George Bridgman. Ricci opened his own studio in 1914, specializing in architectural sculpture. In 1914 Ricci was commissioned to create a series of sculptural decorations for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which opened in 1915. Ricci created many sculptural friezes, decorative plaques, and elements for public installations across the country. He was elected as a member of the National Sculpture Society.


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