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Waterfront Artists Who Changed Nantucket

Artists Association of Nantucket


The Waterfront Artists: Painters Who Changed Nantucket


An exhibition of the AAN’s Permanent Collection featuring artists who filled the studios and galleries of the Art Colony on Nantucket, 1920s – 1960s


The Artists Association of Nantucket (AAN) is pleased to announce the opening of The Waterfront Artists: Painters Who Changed Nantucket on Friday, June 29 at 33 Washington Street. The exhibition features works from the AAN’s historic collection of art and will be open to the public Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. through Saturday, August 18.



The exhibition will look at the history of the waterfront as a popular destination for artists of the Nantucket Art Colony. Visitors will learn about the draw that the beaches and maritime scenery had on artists during a busy and productive era for Nantucket art.


“While it looks at the artists, studios, and galleries of the Art Colony, it is meant to illuminate a particular time and location, not the origins of the Art Colony,” said AAN curator of exhibitions Bobby Frazier. “The Waterfront Artists made up the core group of art colonists from 1920 to 1950, so an exploration of their narrative tends to sharpen the focus on that golden era of Nantucket art.”

"It is a comprehensive survey,” said Frazier, "of the individual roles these painters played in developing Nantucket into a bona fide East Coast hub for the arts."


“The area along South Beach and Washington Street, from Commercial Wharf to the boatyard by Monomoy Creek, looked barren in the 1920s,” said Frazier. “Within thirty years, artists had arrived to populate the buildings and shacks, turning them into studios and galleries.”


The area included the Kerr School of Art, the Red Anchor Studio, Louise Emerson’s home and studio, and the studio of Isabelle Hollister Tuttle. The Candle House Studio, the first group gallery, opened on the corner of Washington Street and Commercial Wharf in 1923. At the center of the areas, was a cluster of studios owned by Florence Lang and subsequently by Ruth Haviland Sutton.


The exhibition also includes a number of programming opportunities for visitors. There will be two walking tours of the area on Thursday, July 26 at 10 a.m. and Thursday, August 9 at 10 a.m., led by Frazier. An exhibition tour is scheduled for Thursday August 2 at 10 a.m. and a Waterfront History Gam on Saturday, July 28 at 3 p.m. The AAN will also host Plein Air Nantucket, an open plein air painting festival on the weekend of June 30–July 1.


The exhibition, catalogue, and programs are underwritten by the The Boston Foundation, Nantucket Art Council, and the Friends of the AAN. Additional sponsorship is provided by Bartlett’s Farm; Congdon and Coleman Insurance Agency, Inc.; and Reade, Gullicksen,Hanley & Gifford, LLP. With support from Annye’s Wholefoods and Create, art supply store.


The AAN is also grateful to the Maria Mitchell Association for the use 33 Washington Street, once the Kerr School of Art, a location steeped with historic significance to The Waterfront Artists.


For further information about AAN 2012 programs and events, please visit the website at or call 508-228-0722.