One of the area’s most beloved contemporary artists, Jeff Weaver, is the subject of a special exhibition at the Cape Ann Museum set to run from March 18 through June 4, 2023. This Unique Place features oil paintings, pastels and charcoals, all focusing on the built and natural landscape of Cape Ann.
“Jeff Weaver’s work is synonymous with the Gloucester and Cape Ann we all know, live in and celebrate,” says museum director Oliver Barker. “His work both reflects this unique place and defines our experience of it. We are honored to be able to share it.”
The works in this exhibit represent Weaver’s overall view of Gloucester from the early 1970s to the present day. Weaver first came to Gloucester while he was studying painting as a student at Burlington High School. When he graduated in 1972, he gravitated back to Gloucester, renting a room above Parisi’s marine supply store in the city’s Fort neighborhood.
Although he studied portraiture at the Museum School, Weaver veered away from that genre in Gloucester, finding the city’s vestiges of the past, its “colorful mix of architecture, fishing vessels and ancient wharves” inspiring.
As he focused more on fine art painting, Weaver branched out from Gloucester’s working waterfront and into the city’s tightknit neighborhoods, exploring the architectural richness and the history of the city, looking for real depictions of a real place. Weaver is often drawn to neighborhoods and buildings that are endangered, sometimes facing destructions through benign neglect or gentrification, such as the 1860s Tarr & Wonson paint manufacturing complex on Rocky Neck, and the old ice plant at the end of Commercial Street on the Fort.
In both cases, Weaver plumbed his subjects, focusing in depth on each site from all angles and at all times of the year, inside and outside, working in oil, pastels and watercolors. Works in these series and others are truthful yet nostalgic, emotional responses to what the artist sees and what he recognizes may soon be gone.
“While the subject matter of the pieces in this exhibit is of considerable importance, I hope that as works of art, the pieces convey something of my feelings for the world around me and my reactions to it,” Weaver says.
An opening reception for the exhibition will be held on March 25, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. As part of the exhibition, Weaver will give a CAMTalk on April 16 at 2 p.m. in the museum auditorium. The talk is free for members, $10 for non-members and will be livestreamed on Vimeo and Facebook. He will also give two gallery talks, one on April 27 at 2 p.m. and the other on May 11 at 2 p.m. Details will be available at capeannmuseum.org/events.
This exhibition and the programs that accompany it are presented as part of the Cape Ann Museum’s contribution to Gloucester’s 400+ Anniversary, marking four hundred years since English colonizers first attempted to settle here. Over the course of the year, the Museum is presenting a wide variety of exhibitions and events that both celebrate the best of Cape Ann and acknowledge the important and complex history of this place stretching back for more than 10,000 years.