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Drawing inspiration from the vast Great Marsh, Essex sculptor Brad Story and Ipswich photographer Dorothy Kerper Monnelly will showcase works in a special exhibition at the Janet & William Ellery James Center at Cape Ann Museum Green from June 18 to July 30. Each artist has been inspired by the natural beauty of the surroundings on the North Shore and in particular the Great Marsh which extends from Cape Ann up to the New Hampshire border. 

“The sculptures and photographs by each artist are particularly striking as they reflect the genuine beauty of our local landscape,” says Cape Ann Museum director Oliver Barker. “As we celebrate the opening of our new CAM Green campus, they are well suited as our featured artists in this setting, melding historic buildings, contemporary art, and bucolic pastures. Both elevate the region’s natural beauty to an artform.”

Barker said this is the first of three exhibitions and related programming that will safely engage the community during the lingering pandemic and make use of the open space at CAM Green. As of June 18, the campus will be open Thursday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Admission is free.  

Black and White by Brad Story

Brad Story is a native of Essex who lives and works on the edge of the Great Marsh. After graduating from college in 1969, he returned home to work with his father, Dana Story, in the family shipyard. The Storys have been building boats in Essex since the 1660s. After 27 years of working in the boat yard, Story turned to designing and building three-dimensional works of art that combine his fascination with airplanes, birds, and boat building. Using nature as his point of departure and materials such as wood and fiberglass, he creates sculptures that capture imaginations and lift spirits. As one critic observed, his works “conjure scenes from the Daedalus’ feather-and-wax myth to Leonardo’s drawings for an ornithopter, to the one-man gliders constructed by Otto Lilienthal in the 1890s.”

Dorothy Kerper Monnelly has been photographing in black and white for decades. Both fascinated and inspired by the 20,000-acre Great Marsh, it was the subject of her 2006 book, Between Lane and Sea: The Great Marsh, which was republished in 2020. Over the course of her career, Monnelly’s photographs have been celebrated by conservation groups, and her large-scale silver gelatin prints are in the collections of several museums including the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. 

In mid-September, the museum will host another Great Marsh-related exhibition at the Pleasant Street campus. Two paintings of the marsh by Martin Johnson Heade (1819 – 1904) will be juxtaposed alongside works by photographer Martha Hale Harvey (1863 – 1949), whose glass plate negatives belong to the museum.

The Dorothy Kerper Monnelly, Brad Story, and the Great Marsh exhibition will include two virtual lectures. In response to the continued limits on large indoor gatherings, the museum continues to offer gallery talks online with the CAM Virtual Lecture Series. These regular online events—lectures, discussions, presentations, gallery tours, artists talks, and more—offer visitors near and far the chance to engage deeply with the museum’s extensive collection from the safety of their homes. In-person tickets are free for CAM members or $10 for the general public. The lectures will be live streamed for free on Facebook and Vimeo.

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