Ruth Brown’s dining room table is covered with about 200 photographs of framed paintings in her personal collection, and she can identify each of the dozens of artists immediately, as if she were looking at photos of her family and friends.
A former longtime Cape Ann gallery owner, Brown, now 82, had the realization that she can’t keep the work all to herself anymore and that her collection needs a new home.
As an artist and gallery owner, she always had ideas flowing through her head and in this latest effort she approached the Rockport Art Association to hold an exhibit and sale of her collection. The collection features many living and deceased members of the historic art association, and the association would benefit from any sales.
The show opens Sunday, with a free public reception from 2 to 4 p.m.
The Rockport Art Association invitation describes the show as not only an exhibit and sale, but also a special tribute to Brown, who has been a friend to so many artists.
“I’m sad to part with my beautiful friends but now someone else can enjoy them,” the invitation reads, quoting Brown herself.
Brown — who operated the Yankee General Gallery of Fine Arts on East Main Street in Gloucester for 30 years — is a familiar face to so many artists whose work she promoted. In fact, she opened her gallery on Nov. 4, 1969, on election night, with a show to honor the artist who was her mentor, Constantine Arvanites (1921-1998), a member of the Rockport Art Association.
Music also had a regular presence at the gallery events and her gallery pamphlets read like a Who’s Who of the Cape Ann art world.
“Friday nights we had all kinds of musicians and poetry readers stop by and we also had drawing classes. It was just remarkable how it all grew. I had no idea how to run a business and all these ideas just flew into my head,” said Brown.