In light of the recent attention the University has focused on building ties with Asia and Europe, expanding Yale’s presence to a paint factory in Massachusetts may seem like an unlikely choice, but the Yale Art School is currently in talks to establish a summer art colony on historic Rocky Neck in coastal Gloucester, Mass.
This summer, two Yale officials visited the town for two days to meet with city officials and property developers about the proposal, Gloucester Mayor John Bell said. The summer art colony program, the brainchild of Richard Rosenfeld ’63, would allow students to live, paint and draw next to Rocky Neck’s scenic harbor and miles of rugged beaches.
“Conceptually, it would be an outpost of New Haven where students would come and live within the community to grow artistically and creatively,” Bell said.
Gloucester has a rich history in the arts. During the 19th century, landscape painters like Edward Hopper and native Fitz Henry Lane, who painted “Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck,” put the quintessentially New England fishing village on the map, said Harold Bell ’36, the chairman of the Rocky Neck Historical Association Board.
“The whole idea of it being here is the place has been the center of art for years,” Bell said. “Rocky Neck is a ruggedly beautiful little cape with a great combination of beautiful seas, lots of coves, and a fishing industry that captures the artist’s imagination.”
The property under study for Yale’s first campus in Massachusetts is a 30,000-square-foot building formerly home to the now-defunct Torr and Wonson Paint Manufactory. Bell said he hopes the University will buy and renovate the old factory. Previously, the developers had faced harsh criticism from the community for touting plans to preserve the historic space while at the same time applying for a demolition permit, Amanda Nash, president of the Rocky Neck Art Colony, said.
During the Yale delegation’s visit, Bell said meetings revolved primarily around the big-picture benefits of placing such a colony in Gloucester.
Yale officials are planning to return in October for another round of talks, Bell said. But for now, officials are reluctant to release details about the program.
“The new dean of the Art School is just beginning to think about his priorities for the School, so it is premature to discuss any new initiatives, or even the range of possibilities at this point,” said Arts Provost Barbara Shailor, who visited the Gloucester site on Yale’s behalf.
Caio Camargo ’09 said the Art School already has retreats for undergraduate students in other countries to paint or take classes. But he said he would appreciate another opportunity.
“Gloucester is someplace isolated with not a lot of distractions, like nightclubs, which makes it a good place,” he said.
Camargo is a former staff photographer for the News.
Meanwhile, Bell — whose father and two brothers are also Yale alumni — said he is excited about the possibility of Yale establishing an art colony in his town.
“If Yale comes to Gloucester, I’d run out and buy a bulldog,” he said.