By Mark Kanny
Published: Saturday, June 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Updated: Sunday, June 9, 2013
Chances are you’ve seen Rockport and Gloucester, Mass., even if you’ve never actually visited them. The film “The Perfect Storm” (2000) starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Diane Lane was filmed in Gloucester and based on a book about the 1991 loss of the fishing boat Andrea Gale during a vicious nor’easter.
More recent films made in nearby Rockport include “The Proposal” (2008) starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, in which the town portrayed Sitka, Alaska, and “Edge of Darkness” (2008) starring Mel Gibson.
The two towns are five miles apart on Cape Ann, which lies to the northeast of Boston. The smaller of the two, Rockport, is at the eastern edge of Cape Ann. Like Gloucester, it’s a fishing town that has a long tradition of attracting photographers and artists, including Winslow Homer.
Both towns have retained their charm and beautiful landscapes since I visited them as a child with my mother, a painter and sculptor. Both also have expanded their cultural appeal since then with performing-arts series and theater companies.
Gloucester is home to the iconic Fisherman Memorial Statue, known as The Man at the Wheel, which makes its appearance in popular culture in films, and in commerce as the symbol of the seafood company Gorton’s of Gloucester.
Mark Kanny is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ROCKPORT ART ASSOCIATION
Founded in 1921 as an artist cooperative and social gathering place, the Rockport Art Association found its permanent home eight years later in a building originally constructed in 1787 as a sea captain’s house. Paintings, graphics and sculptures from the association’s museum collection are on display year-round, including retrospectives of association members, including Aldro T. Hubbard, Anthony Thierne, W. Lester Stevens and, most recently, Emile A. Gruppe. Works from the association’s collection have toured nationally.
Educational activities year-round include art classes, sketch groups, and guest lectures. Special programs for children are offered in July and August. Details: 978-546-6604 or www.rockportartassn.org
SHALIN LIU PERFORMANCE CENTER
The Rockport Chamber Music Festival changed its name in 2008 to Rockport Music to reflected broadened programming that now includes jazz, folk, pop and world music, as well as films and HD broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and the National Theater in London.
The programming of the chamber music series is especially intelligent and wide-ranging. The summer 2013 shows include the 13th-century “Play of Daniel,” but most of the repertoire is from the past three centuries. Performers will include the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, several string quartets and pianists Peter Serkin and David Deveau.
Other concerts will include Judy Collins, jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo, jazz violinist Regina Carter, the Kingston Trio and Anne Hampton Calloway.
No trip to Rockport is complete without a visit to Bearskin Neck, a little strip of land off Main Street that juts out into Rockport Harbor. It is home to quaint shops, artist studios and restaurants that offer freshly caught fish.
HALIBUT POINT STATE PARK
Formerly a granite quarry, Halibut Point State Park offers a remarkable coastal landscape. The view on a clear day extends as far as the coasts of New Hampshire and Maine. Halibut Point is made of sheets of 440-million-year-old granite, which was quarried from the 1840s until 1929. Walking tours include old quarry scenes, while the rocky ledges provide a place for picnics with an unparalleled view.
The visitors center is a renovated 60-foot-tall fire-control station built during World War II for coastal-defense guns. The park is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Staff and volunteers lead tours on weekdays. Saturday morning tours include a granite-cutting demonstration. Details: 978-546-2997 or www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/northeast/halb
CAPE ANN MUSEUM
Originally a scientific and literary organization, the mission of the Cape Ann Museum is to foster appreciation and knowledge of the cape’s history and its cultural heritage. When Harvard-University-educated art historian Alfred Mansfield Brooks became president in 1940, he increased its emphasis on the visual arts. Brooks was a native of Gloucester and assembled the country’s largest collection of painting by Gloucester native Fitz Henry Lane.
The museum’s collection includes the paintings and sculptures of other prominent artists who lived on, visited or were inspired by Cape Ann. The permanent collection also includes fine and decorative arts and artifacts from the fishing and quarrying industries. The museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays. Details: 978-283-0455 or www.capeannmuseum.org
GOOD HARBOR BEACH
The largest of the beaches in Gloucester and Rockport is Good Harbor Beach, a broad expanse of white sand facing the Atlantic Ocean. Salt Island is accessible by foot from the beach at low tide. At high tide, body surfing and foam boogie boards are popular, but inflatable devices are not permitted. Neither is alcohol.
Gates are open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; restrooms and showers from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Lifeguards are on duty from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day. The water is quite cool in early June, but swimmable — even if you’re not a member of the Polar Bear Club — and warms considerably as the summer wears on. Details: gloucester-ma.gov.