The Rocky Neck Art Colony

Our History

The Rocky Neck Art Colony is one of the oldest working art colonies in the country, and has been luring artists to its picturesque shores for more than 150 years. Among others, these artists include Fitz Henry Lane in the 1840s, Emile Gruppe, who made The Neck his home and painted into the 1970s, as well as Childe Hassam, Milton Avery, Maurice Prendergast, Cecilia Beaux, John Sloan, Stuart Davis, Frank Duveneck, Nell Blaine, and Jane Peterson. Leonard Craske created "The Man at the Wheel," Gloucester's famous landmark sculpture, in his studio on the pier on Rocky Neck in the 1920s. Writers Louisa May Alcott, Rudyard Kipling, and others frequented The Neck.

Today the area is still home to many working artists and to galleries showing paintings in all media, as well as batik, photography, jewelry, prints, sculpture, ceramics, and fine gifts. In addition to viewing the arts, one may snack or dine at unique restaurants that feature fine food and fabulous views.

Rocky Neck Art Colony 1850–1950

written by Judith A. Curtis, designed by Stephen Bridges

Rocky Neck Art Colony 1850-1950Cradle of painters, poets and visionaries, Gloucester, Massachusetts, has played a vital role in the nation's art history since the mid-1800s. For more than a century, beginning with marine artist Fitz Henry Lane, this bustling seaport—the oldest working harbor in the nation—has inspired myriad creative souls. The harbor, coupled with Cape Ann's unique luminescent glow and rugged topography, offered everything the plein air painter could possibly want. In addition, the dichotomy between the hardy fishermen and the genteel summer visitors of East Gloucester resulted in the artists banding together to form their own sense of community. So was born the Rocky Neck Art Colony.

Over the years—beginning with Lane's Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck in 1844, through Winslow Homer's first visit in 1873, the arrival of Frank Duveneck and his friends and followers, and the presence of the New York contingent headed by John Sloan and Stuart Davis—Gloucester's Rocky Neck evolved into a microcosm of American art that has never been surpassed. This book offers an in-depth look at America's oldest working art colony with over 130 fine art reproductions from the artists who painted there.
Judith A. Curtis is a freelance writer specializing in art-related themes. Ms. Curtis lives on Cape Ann, and is a regular contributor to the American Art Review. She has also written several books, including Anthony Thieme, The Life and Art of Paul Strisik, N. A., W. Lester Stevens, N. A., (1888-1969), and Harry A. Vincent and His Contemporaries.

To order, call 978-282-0917.


The Goetemann Artist in Residency Program

Originally called the Rocky Neck Art Colony Artist in Residency, the program was renamed the Goetemann Residency Program in 2010 in honor of its founder, Gordon Goetemann. The Rocky Neck Art Colony accepts applications from visual artists in the late winter and early spring of each year. The artists selected will evidence high-level accomplishment, originality and seriousness of purpose. One applicant will be selected for each of three four-week residency terms. The program includes prime studio/gallery/living space (including utilities), press coverage, art sales opportunities, and access to a rich cultural community.

The Goetemann Artist Residency was established in 2005 by Gordon Goetemann. It reflects principles stated in the RNAC by-laws to

  1. Acknowledge the importance of the traditions upon which the Rocky Neck Art Colony was founded and work to keep them vital in the context of contemporary culture.
  2. Provide opportunities for educational and professional development in the arts, which might include lectures, workshops, exhibitions, scholarships and residencies.

The artists in residence live and work at the Kismet Wharf, 51A Rocky Neck Ave.
For more information, contact the director of the program,

See past program residents:

2013 Residency Program
2012 Residency Program
2011 Residency Program
2010 Residency Program
2009 Residency Program
2008 Residency Program
2007 Residency Program
2006 Residency Program
2005 Residency Program

Mass Cultural CouncilPast funding for the Rocky Neck Art Colony Residency Program was in part from the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts made possible by The Massachusetts Cultural Council John and Abigail Adams Arts Program.