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Motif #1 Essay

1677 words - 7 pages

In the craggy seacoast town of Rockport, Massachusetts stands one of the most painted and photographed landmarks in New England. (L’Ecuyer, 2009) As a picture perfect backdrop, many art galleries and tourist brochures proudly exhibit this renowned structure. Simply known as Motif #1, its historical as well as cultural significance to the town is displayed for all to see.
The building was originally used as a fishing shack that housed fishing gear and fish since the American Civil War. (Bartllett, 2002) Motif #1 was built in 1880 on what is known as Bradley Wharf which gave fishermen easy access for storage. Jutting out into the inner harbor, Bear Skin Neck provided a quaint and provincial appeal which can be seen from the main street, Mt. Pleasant Street. (New England Life, 2009) From successive individual ownership it was turned over to the Rockport Pier Company. As the fishing industry grew, so did the interest in the charming area as often is the case with seaside towns. Besides being a fishing community, it quickly established itself as a tourist attraction. In the summer of 1890 with the U.S. Naval Fleet stationed out in the harbor, tourists were taken daily from the wharf out to the ships for inspections. These visits continued into the 1930. (Bartllett, 2002) In 1920 an American traveling through South America found a picture of the Motif #1 that was believed to have been painted in Czechoslovakia and brought it back to his home in New Hampshire. This little shack has inspired many artists. In 1930 it was used by John Buckley as a studio. Probably one of the more unusual use of the Motif was the Rockport Lenionnaires building a 27 foot replica float. It started out with Rockport Art Association members participation but eventually involved the entire community who contributed materials as well as labor. It was driven during the day, stopping at night illuminated by floodlights and brochures on Rockport would be passed out to the communities that they stopped at along the way. The trip started in Rockport, MA. and continued to the Chicago World’s Fair as a participant in the American Leion’s Convention. This would be considered the first national marketing campaign for Rockport illustrating the significance of the Motif’s influence.
The local artists were organized by Aldro Hibbard to paint the Motif. Hibbard also enlisted Rockport Artists to give a fresh coat of paint on the building. In order to keep the glare from the light reflecting off the water and the bright sun, Hibbard had crank case oil added to the red paint. It was a success.The Motif was eventually sold by Buckly to the town of Rockport and the town dedicated it to the fishermen and artist of the town. Lestor Hornby was an illustrator and etcher who taught in Paris. His students often drew standard motifs of international notoriety. The title Motif #1 was given to the shack after many of his students took brush in hand and painted this ragged shack. He exclaimed,...

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