To Arrive Where We Started
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all of our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” –T.S. Eliot
I have been exploring. I have taught art in Italy and suffered heat stroke in Greece, I have experienced the original paintings of my favorite artist, Gustav Klimt, in Vienna. I have met my sister in Brugge and in Paris when she was on exchange as a student in Belgium. I have seen Picasso’s Guernica in Malaga, Spain, and I have seen castles in the countryside of Germany. I have been to Sunday services at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. I have slept in college dorms in Edinburg, Scotland and laid my head on the pillow of a youth hostel in Austria. I have followed Cézanne’s footsteps in Aix-en-Provance, France and I have been to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey. I have lead a colorful and adventurous life, for which I am eternally grateful. But, this week, I returned home to Massachusetts. And it was new again.
Having been born and raised here, it is in my blood. I have been in Florida for many years, but when I come here–I feel like this will always be home. The flora and fauna, the architecture, the weather, the accent, the nature of people… it’s all familiar.
My week in Gloucester was a feast for the senses. I truly felt like I was experiencing Massachusetts for the first time. At Northeast Art Workshops I had a wonderful class of nine people who were ready and eager to plunge head first into the possibilities of collage. They had faith, took my hand, and plunged. How cool is that?
I am truly blessed and I appreciate every one of you.
I didn’t have a rental car, but that didn’t matter. I walked into downtown Gloucester from the Cape Ann Marina several times this week, rain or shine. One night I ducked into the Halibut Pointe Tavern when the rain really started coming down. It ended up being a great spot for a savory haddock plate and local flare.
Gloucester is America’s oldest seaport. It’s part of Massachusetts’ North Shore. Founded in 1623, it was one of the first English settlements in what would be come the Massachusetts Bay Colony–this means that it predates both Salem and Boston.
At one point I stood on a draw bridge over a canal that was dug in 1649. But perhaps what struck me the most was just down the road (after the draw bridge lowered) at the Man at the Wheel, Fisherman’s Memorial.
My father, Big Al, was in the Navy. When I stood and looked at the Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial sculpture on South Stacy Boulevard, I couldn’t help but think of the history. Built in 1925, this 8-foot tall bronze statue of an actual Gloucester sea captain.
According to the National Park Service:
The Gloucester Tercentenary Permanent Memorial Association sponsored an artistic competition to commemorate Gloucester’s 300th anniversary and to permanently memorialize the thousands of fishermen lost at sea in the first three centuries of Gloucester’s history. In 1879 alone, 249 fishermen and 29 vessels were lost during a terrible storm. In preparing for the competition, Craske spent many hours aboard fishing schooners, sketching and photographing fishermen at work. His design was accepted and cast at a cost of $10,000. Generally acknowledged as Craske’s finest work, the Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial is viewed by thousands of visitors annually and has become a symbol of the city, commemorating Gloucester’s link to the sea.
Truly something to linger at, and to remember. The Lost at Sea Memorial Plaques is no longer is restricted only to fishermen from Gloucester or on a Gloucester boat. It now includes not only those Gloucester people lost at sea while fishing, but any death by drowning, whether at sea, in the Harbor, or rivers or lakes, and also deaths of fishermen on shore if their death was caused at sea. Therefore, while there were no women on the original list, there are some on this list. There are also children and vacationers, engineers and dockworkers – anyone who we felt should be included. A cross-hatch # after the name indicates that the person had no connection at all with a death by fishing or drowning in the sea. The list is also unavoidably incomplete.
With yesterday being the 15-year anniversary of September 11, I couldn’t help but to think of all the families, friends, and survivors associated with the names on this list.
Eating Like a Local
Across the street from the Memorial was the Morning Glory Cafe where you can only pay your bill with CASH. I sat at the counter and talked with Chris, who told me that she was born and raised in Gloucester, that the AC was not working (that I had figured myself) and that they were short staffed because at least two waitresses “Just did not show up.”
I ordered the Special #4 of eggs, home fries and house-made fish cakes.
You can never get enough haddock in Gloucester.
The coffee was great at Morning Glory. As I sat with my scrambled eggs, I noticed for the second time this week, American Chop Suey, which is something I have not thought about for a long, long time. American Chop Suey is an American pasta dish that is specifically popular in New England. My mom made the best! I used to make it in Florida when my kids were little, but somewhere along the line I kind of forgot about it. And now, it’s new again… It’s related to other popular and similarly regional pasta dishes like chili mac, common in the midwest. Standard American Chop Suey consists of elbow macaroni and bits of cooked hamburger meat with sautéed onions and green peppers in a thick tomato-based sauce. This is a quick and practical New England meal and it can be a hodgepodge of meat, vegetables and Italian seasonings.
Jane got creative and always added celery.
I left breakfast and headed into town, I was determined to bring home some local art. I found the Local Color Artists’ Cooperative on Main Street, my kind of place. I enjoyed speaking with Dave, a photographer, and Ann, a jewelry artist. Dave took the time to explain to me that 100% of the money goes to the artists, which is a wonderful thing. If visitors are looking for more, there’s also the Art Galleries and Studios in Gloucester and the State of the Art Gallery in town.
Know the Place for the First Time
And so, I have been exploring for a long time. My job involves exploring. But coming here, to Gloucester was like visiting Massachusetts for the first time. Being from Western Massachusetts, visiting the ocean was always a treat. This week was a wonderful reminder of that for me.
for being a part of
My Art Journey,