John Hubbard Sturgis Eaton Endowed Lecture: Homer at the Beach
Henry Adams and Bill Cross
In the late 1860s, an ambitious New York illustrator – not yet recognized as an artist – made his first picture of the sea. Winslow Homer (1836-1910) was 33 years old, freshly back from France, and finding his way. Over the next 11 years Homer’s journey would take him to a variety of marine destinations, from New Jersey to Maine, but especially – and repeatedly – to Gloucester and other parts of Cape Ann, Massachusetts. It was on Cape Ann that Homer made his first watercolors, and where he learned his great calling: to be a marine artist. And it was there, in Gloucester in 1880, at the end of these 11 years, that he enjoyed the most productive season of his life, composing more than 100 watercolors of astonishing beauty. In August, 40 public and private collections will share some of Homer’s finest marine works at the Cape Ann Museum, in the heart of Gloucester, for the first close examination of the making of this great marine artist. Homer’s journey forever changed his life, and the art of his country. This exhibition – running concurrently with a complementary Homer exhibition at Harvard – will reveal new aspects of Winslow Homer, for the first time placing these paintings, drawings and even ceramic work in their rich geographic, cultural and historical settings. Hear the two curators of Homer at the Beach preview the exhibition on March 21st.
Henry Adams is a graduate of Harvard College, and received his M.A. and PH.D. from Yale, where he received the Frances Blanshard Prize for the best doctoral dissertation in art history. In 1985, he won the Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize of the College Art Association, the first time this had been awarded to an Americanist or a Museum Curator. In 1989, when he was a curator at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, William Jewell College awarded him its distinguished service medal for his services to Kansas City and the Midwest. In 2001, when he was a curator at the Cleveland Museum of Art, he received the Northern Ohio Live Visual Arts Award for the best art exhibition of the year in Northern Ohio. In April 2010, The Beauty of Damage, a Tom Ball/Telos Production film that he initiated and scripted with Tom Ball won the Kodak Best Ohio Short Film at the 34th Cleveland International Film Festival. In June 2010 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Cleveland Arts Prize. On September 26, 2015 he received the Artadmiration Award from ARTneo in Cleveland, and was honored with an exhibition of work by artists he has championed and a publication of excerpts from his writings on them. In the spring of 2017 he received the Baker Nord Award for the Humanities bestowed to the most outstanding scholar in the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University.
Dr. Adams has served as curator of Fine Arts at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, as curator of American Art at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, and as Curator of American Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art. He has also taught at the University of Illinois, the University of Pittsburgh, Colorado College, The University of Kansas, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Bill Cross is an independent scholar, a consultant to art and history museums and a Proprietor of The Boston Athenaeum. His largest engagement at present is as Co-Curator of Homer at the Beach – an exhibition of the earliest marine works of American painter Winslow Homer – which will open August 2, 2019 at the Cape Ann Museum. Bill has many years of leadership experience both in the investment management industry and on the boards of non-profits related to the visual arts and to the Christian faith. He has authored more than 200 articles and lectures, particularly related to art, architecture and local history, and has a special passion for placing art in context, unveiling beauty and narrative meaning embedded – and often hidden – in objects. He and his wife Ellen are the proud parents of two grown sons and live on Cape Ann, which is the Cape of Massachusetts named after a queen, not a fish.
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