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January 10, 2013

Rare paintings, rare opportunity

Cape Ann School works to be shown a day before auction

ROCKPORT — A rare opportunity to view a historic collection of the Cape Ann School of Painters will take place Saturday at the Rockport Art Association.

The exhibit features more than 120 paintings as well as a talk on the history and context of the Cape Ann School movement by “Antiques Roadshow” appraiser and fine art expert Colleene Fesko. The Saturday event, from 2 to 6 p.m., is free though reservations are requested.

The special one-day showing of the John F. Gale collection was organized by the Maine-based James D. Julia Auctioneers. These works will be for sale at the annual winter Antique, Asian & Fine Art auction, which will be held Jan. 30 through Feb. 1 at the auctioneer’s facility in Fairfield, Maine. Bidding also can be done online.

Gale, who resided in Cambridge and died about a year ago, is credited with assembling one of the largest and finest private collections of 20th century Cape Ann School paintings to be sold in many years. Included are 35 works by William Lester Stevens, 26 by Aldro T. Hibbard, five by Frederick Mulhaupt, three by T.M. Nicholas, and one by Emile Gruppé, among others.

Ron Straka, an artist, teacher and former president of the Rockport Art Association, knew Gale because Gale frequented auctions and events at the art association and also took painting classes from him.

“These are top-notch paintings,” Straka said. “I think he took the classes to learn about the process that artists had to do to create the paintings. He took classes to better understand what an artist had to put into a painting. The times he did come he was actually quite good for somebody who was starting out in it. When he did some paintings, some were absolutely outstanding.”

Straka also could share with his students what he learned himself as a student of the Cape Ann master painters.

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