1887 - 1981
William Meyerowitz was born in Russia and along with his father, immigrated to this country in 1908; the rest of the family followed shortly thereafter. By the time he arrived in New York, young Meyerowitz was already involved in the two activities which would be at the center of this life for the next 70 years: music and art.
Between 1912 and 1916, William Meyerowitz studied at the National Academy of Design, focusing on the art of etching. During this time, he supported himself by singing in the Metropolitan Opera and by doing architectural drawings. After completing his studies, Meyerowitz, working with fellow artists George Bellows and Robert Henri, helped organize the People's Art Guild. The organization was intended to help introduce art to the common man by providing alternative exhibition spaces including areas set aside in East Side tenement houses. It was through this work that Meyerowitz met artist Theresa Bernstein. The two were married in 1919 and spent the next 60 years working side by side in New York City and here on Cape Ann, first in Folly Cove and then on Mt. Pleasant Avenue in East Gloucester.
Gloucester Humoresque, painted in 1923, commemorated the creation of the North Shore Arts Association and the Gloucester Society of Artists. The two organizations were organized in 1922 and (along with the Rockport Art Association which was founded the year before) quickly became the center of artistic activity on Cape Ann. Shortly after their founding, the North Shore and the GSA found themselves at the center of a lively debate as the local art world wrestled with the idea of juried versus non-juried art exhibitions.
On one side of the discussion was the North Shore Arts Association which grew out of the earlier Gallery-on-the-Moors and whose policies, from the start, included the presentation of juried shows. Taking the opposing stance, the Gloucester Society of Artists (whose headquarters was about a half a mile further along Eastern Point Road) shunned juries and proudly proclaimed themselves: "Open to all and an Equal Chance for all."