Since Feather & Wedge first opened its doors in September 2016, we have described our location by its proximity to a Cape Ann landmark… “right across from The Rockport Art Association on Main Street.” Should you not be aware of this local treasure, allow us to share.
The Rockport Art Association & Museum (RAA&M) not only chronicles Rockport’s historic past as an important New England art colony and quarry town but is also home to many works of important American artists that lived and worked in Rockport. Almost 100 years old, the RAA&M is one the oldest and most active art organizations in the country. It is open year-round for classes and workshops, (with limited museum hours in January and February).
Founded as an artist’s cooperative in 1921, the RAA, quickly became a gathering place for artists across New England. Its humble beginning was in the art studio of Aldro T. Hibbard, a renowned American plein air artist, whose work also hangs in the Smithsonian, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and in the homes of many serious American art collectors. By 1929, the cooperative had grown into a sizable organization that needed its own digs. The artists packed up their easels and took over an old tavern on 12 Main Street, directly across the street from the building that is now Feather & Wedge.
Landscape inspiration, abundant on both land and sea, has been an important element of Rockport’s success as an art colony. From our great quarries to our rocky coasts, fishing vessels, wharves, piers, jetties, the Great Eastern Point lighthouse as well as the iconic Motif #1, our small town has been well represented by many great artists. In addition to Hibbard, contemporaries such as Anthony Thieme, Paul Strisik, W. Lester Stevens, Harry A. Vincent and Emile A. Gruppé have captured Rockport’s landscapes in a large body of their work. These artists, and a number of other notable painters, comprise what has come to be known as the Cape Ann School.
Today the RAA&M is as vibrant as ever, with an impressive permanent collection of significant American painting. The Huffington Post recently named the museum one of the best small art museums in the Northeast. But it is more than just a jewel of an art museum. Today, the RAA&M is also an art association for hundreds of working artists selected by jury and a center for exceptional art instruction in a wide variety of techniques for people of all ages and levels of experience.
Selections from the permanent Museum Collection are periodically displayed throughout the year, along with retrospective exhibitions of historic artists as well those of contemporary artists that live and work in Rockport. A yearly auction of Historic American Art in May features works from the Cape Ann School and draws collectors from throughout the country. It is yet another opportunity to appreciate, and if the budget allows, collect, works created by the early artists and founders of the RAA&M.
The mission of the RAA&M has been a simple but important one right from its beginning: to foster the creation and appreciation of fine arts. The success and longevity of the RAA&M is a testament to the inextricable link of our community to the appreciation of beauty, in both nature and art.
Make sure to visit this local treasure, support it however you can, make a small contribution in time or money, sign up for a class, lecture and/or go see the current exhibit. Then pop in to Feather & Wedge across the street for something to eat and drink.
WINTER HOURS AT F&W: Wednesday through Sunday, Dinner starting at 5PM; Sunday Brunch 10:30 – 2:30.
Reservations suggested. 978.999.5917