#AcornPress - MARS' community outreach initiative
An iconic Cape Ann treasure returns to Gloucester
Folly Cove Designer's
acquired by MARS!
Local school kids studying the Folly Cove Designers have a chance to create work on the press with O'Maley art teacher Brett Dunton.
MARS' vision with Dunton is to expand programming to after school hours.
We plan on providing further community outreach to share this unique experience and opportunity with others.
The backstory behind this significant acquisition:
Paul Manship's great-granddaughter and MARS board member, Diana Natti Theriault shares her great pleasure in realizing this dream.
Thanks to a very generous donor, MARS was able to purchase an historic Folly Cove Designer Acorn Press that had been a local cultural icon at Rockport’s Whistlestop Mall since the mid-1970’s.
The early nineteenth century handpress belonged to Eino Natti, a member of the celebrated Folly Cove Designers. Eino used the press to print his own designs in his home at 1142 Washington Street - just across the road from the Manship property in Lanesville. Eino was my grandfather’s brother and 1142 had been the home of my great-grandparents.
Eventually this Acorn Press passed along to the youngest Folly Cove Designer, Sarah Elizabeth Holloran, who opened her shop in Rockport in 1974. When Sarah Elizabeth, or “Libby” as she was known, got older and needed assistance printing, my father’s sister, Isabel Natti, joined her and eventually took over the shop.
Anyone who ever had the thrill of setting foot in that tiny little shop at Whistlestop Mall, filled with the smell of linoleum and ink, will certainly remember Isabel’s smiling face, and the joy she took in creating block prints, and educating anyone who would listen about the process of handpress printing and it’s rich history here on Cape Ann.
Upon Isabel's death, Julia Garrison, a wonderful artist with Lanesville ties, bought the press, and began working out of the Sarah Elizabeth Shop, continuing both the legacy of the Folly Cove Designers, offering visitors history lessons, and creating new work. Recently, however, Julia has begun a new chapter in her life, and decided to close the shop and sell the press.
It was always my hope that the press could become part of the Manship Project, since it embodies all that MARS aims to be. The press preserves our local heritage and allows us to continue this tradition in our community with contemporary artists. Having this press will give us a strong connection to the Folly Cove Designers, and will provide local and visiting artists opportunities to explore the creative potential of this mechanical workhorse. This press can also be the center around which future programming will evolve, including artist talks, educational events and workshops, and collaborations with local organizations. Programming has already begun at the O'Maley Middle School where a curriculum developed by the Cape Ann Museum is in place to introduce the Folly Cove Designers to eighth-grade school kids.
But, perhaps an even more important connection for me is that this specific press was used by Paul Manship's favorite, doted upon grand-daughter Isabel Natti. As I mentioned earlier, Isabel was my aunt; she was also Margaret Cassidy and John Manship’s niece and neighbor. This press now can create a living memory of the Folly Cove Designers and my aunt Isabel, who was a truly gifted artist in her own right and a muse to many other artists that live and work on Cape Ann.
Having Eino and Isabel’s press become part of the Manship project is a fitting tribute to members of my family who were among the Finns of Lanesville. Isabel was one of the most powerful and memorable women I will ever know and she dedicated herself to conserving and championing the artistic legacy of Cape Ann. I am so grateful that we have the good fortune to preserve this piece of her, and I know she would have been happy that a new generation of artists will be able to find inspiration with this press.
There are several people we need to thank for helping make this happen:
First, I want to acknowledge the anonymous donor who cared deeply for Isabel and who saved the press for our community as a way of honoring Isabel.
Julia Garrison and Mary Rhinelander recognized the importance of keeping this press in our community and offered their guidance and advice.
Jocelyn Pierce of Mayflour Confections was most gracious and patient as we figured out how to safely move this incredibly heavy treasure - Jocelyn had taken over the former Sarah Elizabeth space and had to delay the opening of her shop until we could coordinate the move. Please stop by her coffee and pastry shop at the Whistlestop Mall and let Jocelyn know you are grateful, too!!
We are indebted to Geoff Richon and Bill Van Stight for taking up the challenge of disassembling and moving the press from the Whistlestop Mall to the O'Maley School, only to reassemble it again - no easy task!!
And it was our Mayor who suggested that the press go to the O'Maley Middle School when we asked her where we might find a temporary home for the press in the community until an appropriate studio could be prepared at the Manship property. Many thanks, Mayor Sefatia, for finding this perfect opportunity for all of us!
Diana Natti Theriault
Great-granddaughter of Paul Manship
Board Member, MARS
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