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.
Before the Yankee General gallery, she ran a small gallery called the Rusty Anchor in the mid-1960s next door to the North Shore Arts Association.
“I was selling work like hotcakes,” recalled Brown.
When the space became available in the building next door to Last Stop Variety, she moved her business the short distance to the East Main Street because it had a much larger gallery space.
Over the years, Brown promoted more than 100 artists of both the Cape Ann art associations, and many have become award-winning artists with respected reputations. Brown also served as gallery director for the North Shore Arts Association for 14 years.
Carol Linsky, director of the Rockport Art Association, said the show represents a variety of the fine art that Brown has collected throughout the years, from historic to contemporary.
“She has been such an integral part of the arts community on Cape Ann and just loved by everybody involved in the arts, and we are honored to be able to do this and flattered that she chose us to do this,” said Linsky.
This exhibit will feature about 100 art works covering all media and including diverse subjects such as seascapes, landscapes, still life, and abstract with images ranging from jazz musicians to Good Harbor Beach. The artists include living artists Frank Federico and Tom Sutherland as well as deceased artists, including Theresa Bernstein (1890-2002), Alfred Czerepak (1928-1986), Lester George Hornby (1882-1956) and Ann Fisk (1929-2009).
All works are for sale, and the Rockport Art Association will receive a portion of the sale proceeds.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3445, or email@example.com.
If you go What: The Ruth Brown Collection: A Tribute To Our Friend When: Opening Sunday, with a free public reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Where: Rockport Art Association at 12 Main St. in downtown Rockport. The show, on exhibit in the Martha Moore Room, runs to Nov. 8. How much: Free. For more information, call 978-546-6604 or visit www.rockportartassn.org.