Thursday, January 15, 2015

Philadelphia - Folly Cove, 1921

A one-per-decade series of glimpses, 1860-1960

William Meyerowitz and Theresa Bernstein, 19191
In the spring of 1920 newlywed artists William Meyerowitz and Theresa Bernstein spent the summer season in East Gloucester where George Stacy, the proprietor of the Hawthorne Inn, let them use a little studio to give classes. They quickly became immersed in the distinguished company of painters and patrons centered on the Gallery-on-the-Moors.

William Meyerowitz, Self-portrait, 19171
William applied himself to etching innovations. Theresa recalled their experiences years later. 1

      When the time came to print the etchings, we went to the Hales' in Folly Cove. Ellen Day Hale had a press, which she graciously offered to us....
      At their studio William demonstrated the process of printing. We made this trip several times, until Ms. Hale offered us a little cottage at the edge of the shore. She said, 'Why do you want to stay in East Gloucester and come here to print? It's such a long trip. We have a cottage you can occupy. You won't have to run out for all your meals. Everything can be brought to you, and you can always have dinner with us.' We accepted the offer and moved to Folly Cove.
      Our cottage was called 'Gaviotta,' which means 'seagull' in Portuguese. As it was very dark inside, they suggested that we draw squares with white chalk wherever we wanted windows cut out of the walls. There was no electricity, but we had an oil lamp, and a kerosene stove for cooking....
      William experimented with etchings in color throughout that summer. He felt that this was a unique opportunity since he had the studio and the press at his disposal. He was trying to gain certain effects with color by superimposing one color over another on one plate, or with two plates, or in three printings, according to his design. He managed to get an emotional effect in a medium that was so unyielding.

William Meyerowitz, Fishermen at Sunrise
Etching produced at Folly Cove, 1920
 Theresa and William returned to Gloucester the following summer. I take the liberty of composing a letter she might have written home.

Dear Mother,
          Cape Ann continues to mix together stimulating artistic dimensions, the locale, the patrons, the artists themselves. We've been swept up in exhibitions this summer at the Gallery-on-the-Moors and the birth of the Rockport Art Association. Aldro Hibbard invited William to be on the jury of the RAA's first show, at the Congregational Church for 'openers.'
          We have happily renewed our Folly Cove acquaintances. Last year we were so immersed in work that we didn't realize what an extensive settlement of artists inhabits this remote corner of the Cape. Remarkably most of them are connected to my own birthplace: Philadelphia, and our Academy.

'The Folly' and 'The Playhouse'
Hoyt photo, Sandy Bay Historical Society
           We were introduced to Folly Cove by Margaret Hoyt, whose husband William is first cousin to President Wilson. Their cottage is on the Gloucester side of the Rockport Town Line. Margaret was one of our etching students last year. She had also studied with Gabrielle De Veaux Clements who in 1883, with Ellen Hale, established the first studio in Folly Cove called 'Thickets,' on the Rockport side of the Town Line. Miss Clements is a Philadelphian and a fine etcher in her own right. Another of her specialties is church murals. 

'The Thickets'
Clements/Hale photo, Sandy Bay Historical Society
        Between those two houses Miss Hale had 'Howletts' constructed a few years ago. This is where we have used the etching press.
Clements/Hale photo, Sandy Bay Historical Society
        You must remember Charles Grafly, professor of sculpture at the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts. We hear of him as this country's finest teacher in that field. He has created a beautiful estate just a short distance up the hill from Folly Cove.
Charles Grafly
Wichita State University archives
courtesy of Kirk Noyes
        Professor Grafly has in residence right now one of his students from the Academy, a young man named Walker Hancock.
Walker Hancock, The Seaweed Fountain, bronze, 1921
Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
Gift of the Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy
        Walker is modeling classical and local motifs into his current project "The Seaweed Fountain." It promises to be a lovely piece once cast in bronze.

Edwin Clymer, A View from Above
        At the head of the Cove is the fairly new house of Edwin Clymer who made this striking watercolor on the West Coast. We used to see him paddling about in a rubber inner tube, but have never been invited in to his studio. I do know that he is active in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; the Philadelphia Sketch Club; and the Philadelphia Water Color Club.

Nicola D'Ascenzo
D'Ascenzo Studio Archives, Athenaeum of Philadelphia
        Directly across the Cove from our little 'Gaviotta' cottage rises the edifice of stained glass artist Nicola D'Ascenzo, trained at our Academy and based in a very successful Philadelphia studio. He's taken the reins from La Farge and Tiffany.

Mansions on Folly Point
Nicola D'Ascenzo residence on the left
Sandy Bay Historical Society

Young people in dory
Clements/Hale photo
Sandy Bay Historical Society
Theresa Bernstein, Folly Cove, 1921
Theresa Bernstein, Expressions of Cape Ann & New York, 1914-1972,
The Stamford (CT) Museum, 1989
        You see we are not at all lost for Philadelphians! With our their bright lights we and the native neighbors still enjoy the seaside pleasures of the rocky cove.
        William and I will be back to see you in New York for some part of the winter. We're giving thought to a Cape Ann residence and will enjoy hearing your views.

1 Theresa Bernstein, William Meyerowitz, The Artist Speaks, 1986.
Additional sources:
Walker Hancock, A Sculptor's Fortunes, 1997.
William D. Hoyt, Jr., letter to Rev. Robinson, April 19, 1973, courtesy of the  Cape Ann Museum.

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