From fishing shacks to lobster traps, from French easels to fine cuisine, Rockport is the quintessential harbor for those seeking a place to recharge their cultural batteries. Whether you are an artist or an art lover, a musician or music aficionado, writer, poet or merely a sojourner seeking pleasant beaches and coastal walks, Rockport has something for everyone and every season.
Located on the eastern tip of Cape Ann overlooking Sandy Bay, Rockport is barely 30 miles north of Boston, making it an easy reach for nearby city dwellers, as well as for those visitors who wish to spend longer in this idyllic setting sampling the wide range of leisure experiences in this historic seaside village.
Rockport’s diverse topography, plus a breathtaking luminosity of light and the Atlantic Ocean lapping at three sides confers a cozy ambiance upon the town. Quaint New England architecture – clapboard houses with gambrel roofs lining narrow streets edged with ancient shady trees and, of course, a picturesque harbor – have lured visitors and moviemakers to Rockport for more than a century.
If you are not inspired to reach for your own easel, paintbrush or camera, there are sure to be artists set up on the street or alongside the harbor that you can stand and watch while they create their personal vision of this charming seaport. You might also like to browse the eclectic stores of Bearskin Neck, with ancient fish shacks given a new lease on life as bright and colorful cafes, coffee bars, ice cream parlors, restaurants and shops featuring an amazing array of hand-wrought jewelry, crafts, toys, leather goods and candy. And, above all, there are numerous art galleries. Whether you like the traditional genres of landscapes, boats & harbors, oil paints, watercolors; or if you prefer the bold designs of the contemporary and modernist with daring color planes and vibrant lines, there is sure to be something to catch your eye.
Set on Bradley Wharf is Motif #1, the red fish shack recognized around the world as the Rockport icon. It is a favorite subject – or motif – for the artist, hence its name. As the saying goes “Buckley owned it, Hornby named it, but Thieme proclaimed it!” All three artists John H. Buckley, Lester G. Hornby and Anthony Thieme were early members of the celebrated Rockport Art Association (R.A.A.) founded in 1921. Although an itinerant group in the beginning, holding exhibitions in the Congregational Church vestry, the association rapidly grew in membership and moved into a permanent home at 12 Main Street in 1929, making it one of the oldest art associations in the country. Led for many years by A.T. Hibbard, N.A., the association counts among its members, both past and present, most of the foremost figures in American art well-known for their particular style of American Impressionism. In accordance with their charter, the R.A.A. has dedicated itself to mounting exhibitions to advance the arts.
Today, with a thriving membership of 250 artists who exhibit in painting, graphics, sculpture and photography – plus 800 supporting members – the association holds close to 25 exhibitions per year. The Old Tavern comprises four galleries and a gift shop. Beyond this building, through an intimate courtyard offering shade, statuary and seating, one reaches the much larger Hibbard & Maddocks Galleries. The R.A.A., a cultural beacon of the north shore, also has an impressive museum collection and hosts numerous events that are open to the public including art demonstrations, receptions, lectures, an annual art auction and educational programs for adults and children.
Come celebrate the arts in Rockport this year.