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"Edward Hopper & Cape Ann:" The exhibit didn't spark joy

Hopper exhibitEdward Hopper & Cape Ann: Illuminating an American Landscape (until Oct 16)
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, MA

I am sorry to say that the Hopper exhibition did not spark joy. I found myself interested, but never felt the thrill so many other artists provide. For example, I was dazzled by Gio Swaby at the Peabody Essex and awed to view Hakim Raquib’s photos at the AAMARP (African American Master Artists in Residency Program). But this Hopper collection of both watercolors and oils, focusing on buildings and scenes in Gloucester, was dulled for me by the parallel mentions and pieces of Josephine N. Hopper (nee Nivison).

She was a rising watercolor star and after she hooked up with Hopper, she convinced curators to include him in shows, leading to his first sale in a decade. Once married, she abandoned her own name – a move that is incomprehensible to me for a professional woman – and began to concentrate on motivating Hopper, promoting his work, and becoming wifey. Her own output slowed to a crawl as he became increasingly prominent. He treated her with disrespect, but she took care of him and his legacy until and after his death in 1967.

Hopper_book_coverThe paintings and drawings at this exhibit lack the inclusion of many human figures – lack the loneliness and stillness we see in his later, more famous work. There are single houses, boats, and streets. The early work is a bit bland, but we can see him grow as time goes on.

Finally, hats off to the small Cape Ann Museum which has been overwhelmed by the massive demand to see this show. Our many small Massachusetts museums are treasures which we should support. Yesterday, though, was uncomfortably crowded, despite timed entry tickets, and the explanatory plaques were done in a small grey-ish font under lighting that was too dim. As a result, no matter what angle I could squeeze myself into among the others, it was very hard to read them.


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