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Museum Presents Exhibit of Paintings by Howard A. Curtis
Howard A. Curtis working at the Sawyer Free Library, 1976. Charles A. Lowe photo. Collection of Cape Ann Museum.

GLOUCESTER, MA.- The Cape Ann Museum presents an exhibition of seascapes by Howard A. Curtis through May 31, 2009. Curtis was a noted painter and a respected Gloucester teacher. In a 1980 interview with friend and fellow artist Charles Movalli, Curtis remarked that he “let the subconscious provide (his) images.” He went on to observe that while many painters try to make the viewer see what they see, feel what they feel, he was interested in engaging his audience, in soliciting their responses to his paintings.

Curtis began teaching in the art department at Gloucester High School in 1934 after completing a one-year course in photo-engraving at Wentworth Institute and a four-year program at the Massachusetts College of Art. That same year, Curtis landed a job as assistant to artist Frederick L. Stoddard who had been commissioned through the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project to create murals for the interior of Gloucester’s Sawyer Free Library.

In 1976, Howard Curtis was commissioned to paint murals in what was then the art research room on the second floor of the Sawyer Free Library’s Saunders House. He also painted murals in the former Gloucester Police Station on Duncan Street, the Prospect Street Methodist Church and the Riverdale Methodist Church.

Curtis played an active and important role in Gloucester’s art community for over half a century. As a devoted caretaker of the many irreplaceable murals scattered throughout the City’s municipal buildings, Curtis completed important restoration work on Stoddard’s murals at the Sawyer Library in 1954. In 1982, well into his 70s, he oversaw installation of murals at the O’Maley Middle School in Riverdale. The murals, which still hang at O’Maley today, were done during the 1930s by Frederick Mulhaupt and originally hung in the Maplewood School.

Also included in the exhibition are linoleum blocks and printed textiles by Eleanor O’Hearn, Curtis’ wife and a member of the Folly Cove Designers. Her finished blocks included Round Robin (1954), Cousins and Bird Battalions (both done in 1955), Gay Bouquet (1956), and Narcissus (1957).

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