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Contemporary Art at the Historic White-Ellery House in Massachusetts
Cape Ann Tool trowel.

GLOUCESTER, MA.- The Cape Ann Museum announced that the White-Ellery House, a First Period structure built in 1709 on Gloucester’s historic Town Green (now the Grant Circle rotary) and moved to its present location at 245 Washington Street, will be open for guided tours as part of 17th Century Saturdays, an Escapes North program. These programs are free and open to the public.

New this year is a series of one-day contemporary art installations presented at the White-Ellery House in conjunction with each of the opening days. The artist Sarah Hollis Perry will be featured on August 1.

Perry’s installation features Yellow Line, a knitted strip of bright yellow surveyor’s tape the width of the line in the middle of Washington Street, which will start beside the Grant Circle Rotary, and then wend its way across the lawn, and straight through the White-Ellery House itself. The installation will symbolize the bifurcation of the original property which was moved to its present location in 1949 when plans were unveiled to extend Route 128 across Gloucester’s original Town Green.

Inside the house, Perry’s installations include Mother’s Journal, a wearable coat created from strands of text from a diary that hangs as a lonely reminder of a past life. Hanging on the walls, a group of tools created from paper and old sticks, resemble actual tools, but are totally useless—a reminder of fragility, old age and disuse.

As visitors approach the kitchen, the smell of baking bread will envelope them and welcome them “home” as if the scent lingered from the time when many generations living here carried out their daily tasks in this room.

A video in the attic of the house projects on the beams and sloping roof. Created from portraits of early Gloucester residents, Ancestors was made using original photos in the collection of the Museum.

Sarah Hollis Perry holds a B.A. in History of Art from Smith College and a Diploma and a Fifth Year Certificate from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, winning a Traveling Scholarship in 2000. While completing her studies, she was awarded prizes in sculpture, printmaking and papermaking. She has taught papermaking at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and will be teaching “Object a Week” workshops there starting this fall. She has appeared as visiting artist at the Louisiana Tech University School of Art and at the Ellis School in Pittsburgh. Perry’s work was shown at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2001, in one-person exhibits at Smith College Alumnae Gallery in 1999, and in the Louisiana Tech Art Gallery and the E. J. Bellocq Gallery (Ruston, Louisiana) in 2000 and 2008. She has appeared in numerous group shows and held a residency at the Millay Colony in Austerliz, New York where she was named Nancy Graves fellow for 2004.

Recently, Perry has been working with surveyor’s tape and recycled plastic newspaper delivery bags, knitting sweaters for trees. Her outdoor installations have been seen at the Brockton (Massachusetts) Fuller Museum exhibit “Trashformations” (2005), the Guilford (Connecticut) Art Center’s exhibit “(re) – creation” (2005) and at the Boston Children’s Museum exhibit “Dirty Dozen” (2008). With her daughter, Rachel Perry Welty, Perry collaborated on a video installation at First Night Boston (2007), collaborative video and performance at Santa Fe Art Institute (2005) and at Louisiana Tech University School of Art (2008.) Perry and Welty have two permanent installations in the Tisch Library at Tufts University.

The White-Ellery House is one of a handful of surviving First Period buildings in Massachusetts. The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites because of its design, materials, and workmanship, and its plank frame construction. Recent stabilization work of the roof and clapboard siding was completed this spring.

The house was built for the Reverend John White, Gloucester’s first settled minister, and exhibits an elegance and refinement commensurate with White’s esteemed position in the community. The second owner of the house was James Stevens, who kept it as a tavern until 1740, at which time it was sold to the Ellery family. In 1949, the house was taken by the City of Gloucester by eminent domain, turned over to the Cape Ann Historical Association, and moved safely out of the path of the highway.

Cape Ann Museum | White-Ellery House | Gloucester | route | Museum of Fine Arts Boston | Sarah Hollis Perry | Fuller Museum |

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