Artistic life on Cape Ann keeps adding more interesting facets. This month, the first guest artists will stay at the Manship Artists Residency & Studios. Author and public policy expert Bina Venkataraman, along with painter Andrew Fish, will come to the former home and studios of two generations of artists—John, Paul and Margaret Cassidy Manship—to live and work.
Since the passing of Margaret Cassidy Manship in 2012, significant work has been done to transform the fifteen acre Lanesville estate into working space for artists. Art historian Rebecca Reynolds has headed the effort, which has raised funds privately, from the Mass. Cultural Council, and from other sources, to refurbish both the Manships’ home and the historic barn/studio on the property.
“When Margaret was alive she wanted to create a living trust to make this an artist residency,” Reynolds says. “Even back when Paul was alive, he wanted his artist friends to be here as well, and to spend time with him.”
Living and studio spaces are spread out over the property, which also includes Canney’s and Manship’s quarries. Reynolds envisions artists not only coming to reside and work privately, but engaging the community in as-yet-unimagined ways.
“MARS is not just for the people that are coming here,” Reynolds says, “it’s for the community and for the community’s artists.”
Venkataraman is a journalist and public policy expert, writing about practical possibilities for taking action to benefit the future. She was a senior advisor for climate change in the Obama administration. She now teaches at MIT, is a director at the Broad Institute, and a fellow at New America. Her new book, “The Optimist’s Telescope” (Riverhead), comes out in August.
“I don’t have a specific agenda for my residency,” Venkataraman says. “My book is done, but it’s not out yet. It’s that lull between working very hard on something for a couple years, and then sharing it with a broader audience.
“So I’m going to use the residency to fertilize the next writing project,” she says. “It lets me step away from all the work I have on a daily basis.” Fish—her husband—will work on preparing an upcoming exhibition of his paintings at New England Biolabs in Ipswich.
Reynolds has raised impressive funds from a number of sources—$650,000 for the initial purchase—and also galvanized interest in the artistic community. While Venkataraman and Fish are the first artists to live in the space, four photographers documented the estate and the renovations in 2018. An exhibition of that work was shown last fall in the Addison Gallery on the Phillips Academy campus in Andover. The MARS board and its advisors include many of Cape Ann’s most dedicated and active arts supporters.
“I visited the estate, back in February,” Venkataraman says. “There was still a lot of work going on at the property. While I was there Trevor Smith, curator at the Peabody Essex Museum, was in the house helping to clean out the cupboards and the old dishes. I thought, ‘This is the way a community should honor the legacy of its artists.’ ”
Author/public policy expert Bina Venkataraman and painter Andrew Fish will be the first residents at the Manship Artist Residency & Studios (MARS) in Gloucester, during the last two weeks in May. Venkataraman’s new book, “The Optimist’s Telescope,” will be out on Riverhead this August. Andrew Fish’s next exhibition will be a showing at New England Biolabs in Rowley.