The Eagle-Tribune: Our View: Cheers and jeers for recent newsmakers
September 15, 2023
CHEERS to Jane and William “Wilber” Ellery James for their donation of a massive, exceptional collection of Cape Ann American Art to the Cape Ann Museum.
The collection gifted by the former Rockport residents features more than 300 works, including those by significant artists such as Milton Avery, Anna Hyatt Huntington, Thomas Hart Benton, Jane Peterson, Paul Manship, George Aarons, Cecilia Beaux, Adolph Gottlieb, Eric Hudson, Theresa Bernstein, Stuart Davis and Winslow Homer.
Museum Director Oliver Barker noted the works would be welcome in any institution.
“We are talking about works by some of America’s great 20th century artists from Marsden Hartley to Anna Hyatt Huntington, Milton and … Sally Michel Avery,” Barker told reporter Ethan Forman. “So these are really significant pieces for us because they round out or help us round out the Cape Ann story. They are works that many institutions would love to have.”
“We view the collection as a gathering of dear friends brought together over time,” Wilber and Janet James said in a prepared statement. “Recognizing that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, we have a deep wish to keep these pieces together rather than having them disperse and disappear into private hands. … We recognize that we are really not the owners, but rather the stewards of these works, and of the artists’ legacies.”
Now that stewardship falls to the Cape Ann Museum, which has had an eventful few years with the new Cape Ann Museum Green campus off Route 128 and Grant Circle, and the institution’s prominent role in Gloucester’s 400th anniversary celebration.
It’s a fitting way to celebrate both the artists and the Cape’s contribution to art itself.
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