As a teacher, Charles Hawthorne is given much credit for the emergent art colony. As a landlord, Frank A. Days from the Azores isn’t given credit enough, for providing the low-cost spaces that made it possible. In 1914, he and his sons built studios atop the lumber bins at the F. A. Days & Sons yard. The windows faced close to true north. Early tenants included Ross Moffett, Edwin Dickinson, Charles Kaeselau, and Hawthorne. In the 1950s, Joseph Oliver shored up the studios, installed heating and toilets, and raised the annual rents from $60 to $250. Oliver sold the property in 1972 to the Fine Arts Work Center, at 135 Bradford. It was founded by Josephine and Sal Del Deo, Alan Dugan, Stanley Kunitz (the common room bears his name), Philip Malicoat, Robert Motherwell, Myron Stout, Jack Tworkov, Hudson D. Walker (the gallery bears his name), and Ione (Gaul) Walker.
Other key figures were Richard Florsheim, Jim Forsberg, Ruth Hiebert, Mary Oliver, and Judith Shahn. “They believed that if they provided younger artists with a place to live, a studio to work in, and a little money in their pocket, they could attract a new generation,” said Hunter O’Hanian, a former executive director.
Among 800 or so fellows are Keith Althaus, Susan Baker, Paul Bowen, Molly Malone Cook, Michael Cunningham, Bill Evaul, Bill Fitts, Nick Flynn, Martha Fowlkes, Cynthia Huntington, Michael Klein, Jane Kogan, Jhumpa Lahiri, Sharli Powers Land, Susan Lyman, Peter Macara, Conrad Malicoat, Jim Peters, Heidi Jon Schmidt, Roger Skillings, Joan Wye, and Bert Yarborough. The coal shed was turned into a common room, designed by Michael Prodanou, in 1988. O’Hanian oversaw the connection of the north and south wings in 2004 with a two-story addition designed by Prodanou. Margaret Murphy presided over the reconstruction in 2009-2010 of the studios, which were jacked up and suspended while new offices were built below.
The “barn” was probably a storehouse used by Stephen Cook, whose wharf was at the foot of Pearl Street. Oliver rented it to Peter Busa and, in 1961 and 1962, to Motherwell and Helen Frankenthaler, who were then married. A picture of them posed in the open loft doors is an indelible image of the art colony.
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