Gloucester, I Ask You-What is Art? by Ernest Morin

10f47-ernieGloucester, I Ask You-What is Art?

Art—one of the least—defined terms here,  and yet we claim to be an Arts city.

There is no clear answer as to what is meant here by helping or supporting the Arts, which arts, and  at what level of execution ?

What is craft or product versus Art or Fine Art ?

If the city intends to market itself as a center where world class artists can live and work , what exactly does this mean ?

Because depending on what you include, and  at what skill level,  you will be targeting very different people and outcomes.

To blindly go forth is erroneous and futile.

This city has a history that’s often talked about which includes
Painters Winslow Homer, Fitz H Lane, Edward Hopper, John Sloan, Mark Rothko
Photographers Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan, Gordon Parks
Musicians Miles Davis, Herb Pomeroy
Poet Charles Olson

All people at the top of their game in their mediums.

We currently have a number of well -known artists living here,  some with Guggenheim awards, a few nationally or internationally recognized ones without.

Can anyone name them ?

Have they had shows at the local museum contemporary wing ?

Is their work truly supported here ?
Seen here ? Celebrated here ?

In Japan they’d be seen as national treasures of real cultural importance.

What is the general public view of our best artists here ?

Of artists in general ?

Of Public Art recently ?

Is it really a supportive community,  or merely for a certain type of Art  among a small set of people in only minor ways ?

How we define what Gloucester should stand for as a so- called Arts community is of the utmost importance given the number of new cultural district assignments on Cape Ann and what appears to be an intent to use the arts to drive some economic gains for the city.

If what’s meant is Arts and Crafts,  then that needs to be clearly stated and elevated to a height worthy of being an area of destination of distinction.

If it’s meant to be Art of the highest caliber in a medium,  then the focus and support needed to achieve that status has to be properly assessed, planned for, and marketed to.

As an Artist, I’d say Gloucester is not a city I’d deem very supportive of its best talent.  It’s more a place that tends to be proud those people live here,  and offers them the ability to be left alone to do their work.

The city has a history of ignoring its top talent, Hopper and Sloan were refused by the local museum in their time, Charles Olson as well.  I could name existing people working here today who have been shown at Decordova Museum in Lincoln, MA or in New York, but not offered such here.

So it’s always curious to me, as a working artist,  to hear “Gloucester is a real Arts town.”

Please define both Real and Arts before we plunge into marketing for Tourism or Cultural Tourism or Art Therapy Tourism or whatever terms they will apply next, to use the Arts to bring salvation to Down Town.

Excuse me—Harbor Town,  lest I forget we were recently renamed for a smart PR angle already.
Ernest Morin is a native of the City and a socially concerned documentary photographer.

What’s Your Opinion?

What are you doing Monday, Jan 26,  6 pm?

The public comment meeting taking place at the Maritime Center that night  might be your only chance to comment* on this proposal:

for the Solomon Jacobs Park at Harbor Loop :

A $30,000 expenditure related to this proposal will be on the agenda for the City Council meeting the following night. 

In early December, then-Mayor Kirk asked the City Council to recommend spending $30,000 in support of a gift of a sculpture……. 


(as long as a private fundraising effort provides at least that amount,)

….because the Gloucester Committee for the Arts recommended that the City accept the gift:

“…subject to
1- private fundraising to provide for all projected costs, as outlined above (fabrication, site work, maintenance fund for the future.)
2- the opportunity for public comment * on the proposal ………”