Frank Thurlo, Painting of the Chain Bridge

Frank Thurlo,1828-1913, watercolor of Newburyport's Chain Bridge

Every now and again the Newburyport Blog goes on a fun hunt.  In 2007 I went on a hunt for all the stuff I could find about Newburyport’s historic gardens.  And in 2012 it looks like I’m going on a hunt for Newburyport historic paintings.  How fun.

And in my hunt, I found another painting by Frank Thurlo, a watercolor of Newburyport’s Chain Bridge.  And you can see the same boat that Frank Thurlo had in the previous painting (see previous post), as well as the birds.

And Frank Thurlo was what we would call a true “native.” Frank Thurlo was a descendant of Richard Thurlo, a native of England, who held land in Rowley, MA in 1634 and moved to Newbury in 1651.  He was the son of Moody and Ann (Little-there’s that old name again) Thurlo, and went to the Brown High School in Newburyport.

Frank Thurlo lived from 1828-1913, and lived and died in Newburyport, MA . And all the images of his paintings are in the public domain.

Frank Thurlo Painting, Plum Island River

Frank Thurlo, 1828-1913, watercolor on paper, Plum Island River, 4 1/8″ x 12 1/8″

Thurlo is an old Newbury name, and in my search for paintings in the public domain of Newburyport I came across this painting.

The Painting is by Frank Thurlo who lived from 1828-1913. It is a watercolor on paper, of Plum Island River and Marshes,  4 1/8″ x 12 1/8″. And it is signed lower right. You can click the image to enlarge.

Marsh Painting by Heade, Sudden Showers

Martin Johnson Heade Sudden Showers, Newbury Marshes, c 1865-1875
Martin Johnson Heade Sudden Showers, Newbury Marshes, c 1865-1875

Martin Johnson Heade, “Sudden Showers, Newbury Marshes,” c 1865-1875, Oil on Canvas, 13.25″ x  26.31,” Courtesy of the Yale University Art Gallery, Yale University, New Haven, Conn. (Press image to enlarge.)

Another amazing painting of the Newbury marshes by Martin Johnson Heade, thanks to Wikipedia (see previous post). The image is in the public domain.

I‘ve spent decades painting the marshes around Newburyport, and Heade is one of my all time favorites artists.  And this reminds me of the marshes along Rt 1A between Newburyport and Rowley.  A real treat for the Newburyport Blog.

A Martin Johnson Heade Painting of the Marshes

Sunlight and Shadow: The Newbury Marshes (c. 1871-1875), Martin Johnson Heade

Sunlight and Shadow: The Newbury Marshes (c. 1871-1875), Martin Johnson Heade, Oil on canvas, Size: 12″ x 26.5″ John Wilmerding Collection (The National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.)  Press image to enlarge.

How gorgeous is this painting by Martin Johnson Heade, who did a number of paintings of our local marshes.  This is via Wikipedia, so the image must be in the public domain, and I don’t think I was aware of this painting either (see earlier post).

People end up on the Newburyport Blog all the time looking for pictures and photographs of Newburyport.  And it is always so much fun to find another extraordinary image of this beautiful place.

Painting of the Newburyport Marshes by Alfred Bricher

"Hunter in the Meadows of Old Newburyport, Massachusetts" by Alfred Thompson Bircher
"Hunter in the Meadows of Old Newburyport, Massachusetts" by Alfred Thompson Bricher, click to enlarge

(If you click on the painting by Bricher, the image will enlarge)

I have never seen this gorgeous painting of a “Hunter in the Meadows of Old Newburyport, Massachusetts,” by Alfred Thompson Bricher c. 1873.  It’s oil on Canvas, 22″ x 44″ and the image is courtesy of  Wikipedia, and is now apparently in the public domain.  What a treat.

“The scene appears to be in the vicinity of the Little River. Route 1 offered the major overlook easily accessible to artists. In the far right can be seen the ridge of the right bank of the Merrimack over which High Street runs. Cattle have been turned into the marsh for pasture, a practice still allowed on some marsh farms of the area.”

Art, Paintings, Newburyport Show


“Many locals know her only as the author of the Newburyport Political Blog. But the political junkie that is Mary Baker Eaton is also an accomplished artist whose work has appeared at prestigious New York City galleries and can be found in private and corporate collections across the country.

And, now, her readers ‑ and everyone else ‑ finally will be able to see her artwork up close, as Kerim Kaya, owner of Kaya Jewelers downtown, presents her paintings through Dec. 31.

The exhibit marks her first major local showing in 10 years, and the quirky Eaton, surrounded Monday morning by her exquisitely detailed paintings of Newburyport scenes, took every opportunity to promote her good friend, Kaya.

“This is a great way for two business people to get together,” she said, leaning against one of the jewelry display cases. “I help Kaya. Kaya helps me. Every time I tell someone about the show, I tell them, ‘You should come in and buy your significant other or yourself a nice piece of custom-made jewelry for Christmas…””

“…The paintings on display showcase Eaton’s love for the natural beauty of the community where she has lived for the past 30 years. A contemporary realist painter, she captures, with lifelike precision, the stillness of the Plum Island marshes, the petals of a bright yellow iris in the South End, apple blossoms clinging to a brick wall at the old gardens at Maudslay State Park and the Common Pasture, its vista unchanged by centuries.”

“Putting things in perspective,” by Ulrika G. Gerth, © The Newburyport Current, November 6, 2009

Blue Morning Glory, Oil on Panel, © Mary Baker
Blue Morning Glory, Oil on Panel, © Mary Baker

Kerim Kaya, a long time friend and owner of Kaya Jewelers, approached me about a month or so ago and asked if I would like to show my paintings in his gorgeous jewelry store, Kaya Jewelers, 41 State Street, on the corner of Essex Street. My response, especially in this economy that has hurt the arts so much was, “What a great idea!”

The show is up for all of November and December, and the reception is this Saturday, November 7, 2009 from 6 PM-9PM. Please stop by and say “Hello.” And do be sure to buy yourself or your significant-other a beautiful piece of jewelry for the holidays.

You can read the rest of the story in the Newburyport Current here.

Newburyport Sculpture and Art

peaceoffering_sculThe photo to the left is a sculpture by Michael Alfano, “Peace Offering,” that is currently in the Somerby’s Landing Sculpture Park in Newburyport, MA. If the ticket booth is moved by the Newburyport Waterfront Trust to the Somerby’s Landing Sculpture Park, this is location where it would go (we hope this does not happen).

This is the corner of the sculpture park where so many people come and sit, talk, wonder, gaze at the mighty Merrimac River, as well as watch their children play in the incredibly sculptural and climbable tree at that corner, which is pictured in the previous post.

To quote from the Sculpture Park’s website: “On exhibit for another year is a nearly six foot wide resin bench, “Peace Offering” by Michael Alfano that graces one corner of the park. The dove conveys the hope for peace, its tail transforms into a hawk, representing hostility. The dove’s wings become open hands, which might be ours, in an asking, a weighing, or an offering pose. Or they might belong to a larger force that welcomes two people to sit down and discuss their differences. This sculpture represents some of the many aspects of attaining peace. It is a expression of Michael’s Soka Gakkai Buddhist practice, with the intention of contributing to peace and culture.

Following this year’s extended stay at Somerby’s Landing Sculpture Park, “Peace Offering” will be purchased for installation on the Clipper City Rail Trail.”

(Just as a note–for those people complaining about the money that has been given to the Clipper City Rail Trail, instead of going to a myriad of other things that Newburyport desperately needs, grant money for the Clipper City Rail Trail for things like “art,” etc. comes from a completely separate gene pool than money allocated for the myriad of other needed stuff.)

I’d hate to think that moving the ticket booth to that reasonably “sacred” space would be anything than the slightest and most passing notion by the Newburyport Waterfront Trust, one that would pass as fast as a sea breeze whisking past Somerby’s Landing Sculpture Park in Newburyport, MA.

(The photo of the sculpture by Michael Alfano, “Peace Offering” is copyrighted by Artfluence, and is used with permission.)

Newburyport Original Art

I’ve written a lot about why original art work is so important to people’s daily lives and our culture at large (disclaimer: I am an artist). Original art enlivens an environment and enriches lives. A more crass reason is that the very wealthy may often buy original art because it is a “status symbol,” it indicates that whoever it may be, has “class.”

To steal from myself: Having a Ferrari (yes, I know, tough to have such an item in a lousy economic times) may be a status symbol, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the person has “class.”

“Having art is unique in imparting to others that you are of value. Art is something that people pass on from generation to generation. Art defines civilizations. Art tells people that you are not only educated, but also that you appreciate history and beauty. It is why when the early American tycoons built their fortunes, they went out and bought art, because it gave them “class.” Thank goodness they did, because today we can see Van Goghs, Monets, Renoirs in the great art museums all over the world.” (Quoting from myself.)

In Newburyport, MA we have original art on our waterfront at the Newburyport’s Sculpture Park at Somerby’s Landing near the Black Cow restaurant. Ergo, this makes us “classy.”

There is some chit chat, that hopefully would go nowhere, that the little ticket booth (which again I love right where it is) could be put in the sculpture park.

My recollection is that when the sculpture park was being discussed, one of the absolute musts (and quite rightly so) was that it would not block the view of the water. The little ticket booth would ironically block the view to the water (much less destroying the actual sculpture park).. a demonstration.

motes_sculptureThis sculpture by Robert Motes, “An Imagined Place” (which is now a permanent installation at Somerby’s Landing Sculpture Park, made possible in 2006 by the generous donation of the Newburyport Art Association) has a window with a “view” that is Newburyport’s waterfront– the corner of the sculpture park where the ticket booth would go. So if the ticket booth went there, the window would be looking at the side of the ticket booth.

At the moment the “view” from the window is of the granite corner where all kinds of folks come to sit under the shade of the delightful tree that is pictured, to read, to contemplate, to talk to one another, or to watch their children climb on that delightful tree and listen to their laughter as they enjoy this unique experience. That’s pretty much gone if the ticket booth goes in that particular community space.

And that’s only one example. And again, it is this blogger’s hope that it is merely chit chat that the ticket booth could be moved to this gem like community space, that is part of a jeweled environment in Newburyport, MA.

(The photo of the sculpture by Robert Motes, “An Imagined Place” is copyrighted by Artfluence, and is used with permission.)

Newburyport’s Sculpture Park

Elk sculptureOne of my favorite walks in my beloved hometown of Newburyport, MA is to walk to downtown Newburyport, go to Market Square, cross Merrimac Street at the Firehouse Center for the Arts, walk down the grassy area towards the board walk that runs along the mouth of the mighty Merrimac River.

There I take a left and walk around the indent of the boardwalk, go past the ticket booth, which I love (such sentiment of enjoying the ticket booth on Newburyport’s boardwalk I gather is now a sentiment of abomination, maybe something on that later, but I still love it, for a myriad of reasons) to the little gem, right before the restaurant, the Black Cow–Newburyport’s Sculpture Park, or more correctly, Somerby’s Landing Sculpture Park, Newburyport, Massachusetts.

A picture framer (disclaimer: I am an artist) once told me that a good frame on a painting was like jewelry on a beautiful woman. And I have the same sentiment about Newburyport’s Sculpture Park–jewelry on a beautiful woman.

I remember going to Newburyport Sculpture Park’s “inauguration” in 2003. The City of Newburyport and the Newburyport Waterfront Trust had such pride and such delight at creating this gem on an already jeweled setting. And low and behold it has managed to have its own curator all these years with a roughly yearly exhibition, for all and sundry to enjoy, 24/7, 365 days out of the year, for those who are blessed to find and enjoy it.

And one of the things that I found out years ago, was that way back when, one of the kids that hung out on Inn Street, when so many people were worried about the kids on Inn Street, would go down to the sculpture park for inspiration, because she loved art, and here was art in Newburyport, MA. She later went on to work on Christo’s blockbuster exhibition, in New York City’s Central Park, The Gates–not bad for inspiration, as inspiration goes.

And now I hear about a whole lot of local political taffy–the Newburyport’s sculpture park is slightly being considered as a destination for the poor ticket booth by the Newburyport Waterfront Trust (email discussion can be read here). This blogger hopes that this might only be conjecture on the part of the current Newburyport Waterfront Trust, and this gem in the middle of the jewels that they are in trust of, will remain in its gem-like and inspiring state.

(The photo of the sculpture by Wendy Klemperer, “Elk” is copyrighted by Artfluence, and is used with permission. “Elk” is a now a permanent installation at Somerby’s Landing Sculpture Park. Funding was raised in 2005 by Jesse Vining (age 7) to purchase the Elk sculpture for the general public. Thanks for principal donations goes to the Lilliput Foundation, Five Cents Savings Bank, Institution for Savings, Newburyport Rotary Club, Hall & Moskow, the Newburyport Elks Lodge, and many other individuals, friends and family, children and adults.)

What if you Burp

My son tells me that security is impossible. That I should prepare for the very, very worst.

“My son is in the play, ” I tell them (them being security). Open sesame, no problemo.

My son tells me that my experience is an anomaly. That it will not happen again.

Apparently proud mothers are deemed a low security risk, because they (security) continue to open the security gate, no questions asked. They even smile–this can be unusual in New York City.

In the “talk back” after the play, one of the audience members asks, “What do you do when you burp?”

The question, which could have been awkward, is deftly handled by the young Shakespearean troop. A burp or even a sneeze would not be a distraction, but could be seen as part of the plot by the audience and the actors would move ever forward (sort of like proud mothers breezing through security gates).

And I suppose that would be true of the burps and sneezes in life. My own life burps and sneezes are noticed hardly, if at all, by the outside world. It is only in my own little brain that they have the possibility of becoming anything of consequence.

However, as I watch and follow the new president, from my home town of Newburyport, MA and elsewhere, as I’ve never watched or followed any president before, I realize that every burp, sneeze etc. appears to have major significance to at least someone and can be open to the possibilities of multiple burp, sneeze interpretations, i.e. distractions. Often, it seems, so much so, that a larger picture could be obscured by burp and sneezing stories (mostly, it seems to me by Republicans and media outlets in need of a story line). And I wonder if pride in one’s country could often be mucked up due to constant conjectures as to whether or not a political digestive tablet or a Kleenex might be necessary, making it difficult for everyone to get on with the plot, or of solving the gigantic Shakespearean size problems that lie before us.

Hope, Faith and New England Winters

My son says to me as he hears more and more people that he knows being laid off, “Mom, people now know what it’s like to be an artist.”

When folks ask me how I’m doing in these times I say, “Being an artist really helps me a lot in times like this.”

And what I mean by that is as an artist I never take for granted good financial times. My habit has been to sock it away, because there are always rainy days in the arts and hurricanes happen, and I guess now we even get the occasional typhoon.

I also know that the process of painting has taught me a lot about life’s lessons. Life’s different paths for me have never been straight and narrow, they have always been circuitous, uncertain, just like painting. Without an ongoing hope and faith, being an artist is almost impossible, and I have found that hope and faith becomes essential for living circuitous pathways.

And living in Newburyport, New England has helped me understand that creatively there can be no spring without a dormant winter. And I am no longer afraid of life’s winters because I know that life, like the seasons, is cyclical, and that spring always happens, no matter how long or how harsh winter may be.

And certainly right now, globally and as a country we are experiencing one of those long harsh Newburyport, New England winters, one that starts sometime in November and lets up sometime in April. But even in February, on the side of the street where the sun is warmest, early signs of spring begin to show. At the very top of high trees, a reddish hue becomes visible, and the buds on bushes and trees plump up. All signs of hope. All signs of spring.

So in an atmosphere of hopelessness, anxiety and often fear, I remind myself, that even in these times, spring and then the long hot summer will, as it always does, arrive once again.

Newburyport Stories

I open the present my son gives me for Christmas, a book. A skull with a cigarette on the front cover. My face obviously gives my skepticism away.

“No, Mom, really, he’s on the New York Times best seller list, I promise.”

I feel slightly better when I find out that the skull was painted by my favorite painter, Vincent Van Gogh. To say the least, I am still skeptical.

My son to reassure me, sits me down and reads the first short essay/story. It’s about germs. I’m still not won over.

But after all, this is my own beloved son, and I want to make at least some attempt to appreciate his thought out present to moi. So I plunk myself down in the comfiest chair I can find, and proceed to read the skull book. By the fourth essay/story, I am howling with laughter, and offer to read my son some of the stuff in his now much appreciated present. He declines.

The 8th essay/story is about a New York City woman, who could have been any number of characters that I’ve known so well. And I begin to wonder that maybe these stories have a lot less fiction in them than I first supposed.

And having struggled with, in what fashion to continue the Newburyport Blog, an idea begins to form. Stories, maybe fiction, maybe true, centered around my beloved New England seacoast city of Newburyport, MA, my stories, but hopefully somewhat universal as well as local.

What woman, Newburyport or elsewhere, hasn’t stood in front of the mirror and wondered about “midriff bulge.” Another version of, “Am I fat?”

What one of us, while considering the problem of “midriff bulge,” hasn’t also considered a personal financial fate in these lousy economic times.

Instead of “preaching” about historic preservation, and preserving the historic quality of this wonderful historic town, an experience of what it is like to live in an historic place, day after day, and how that adds to an unquantifiable quality of life.

Instead of talking about how upset I am about specific “restoration” and building projects, why not talk about historic preservation and boob jobs, hoping that people will start rating planning and historic preservation projects as a “double D boob job” as the worst, to a “braless wonder,” at their very best.

In December 2008 I find I am weary of pissing off my fellow Newburyport citizens, living under a constant risk of being sued or being threaten of being sued, and this appears to be a possible solution.

After trying to find every possible book by the skull guy, I finally Google him. And I find that, yes David Sedaris has not only been around for quite a long time, and I am very late to the David Sedaris planet, but also even that he has been on David Letterman a lot, no less, much less a visit to one of my favorites, Jon Stewart. From here on in, I vow to myself, I will trust my son’s taste in literature, even if the cover contains a picture of a skull.

Artists Creating Jobs

One of the things that really gets me about the new stimulus package, that better get passed, the Republicans better not screw this one up, is the outrage about giving money to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

This isn’t just outrage by Republicans, but on places like CNN too. “Can you believe this? This is really the last straw–money for the NEA.”

Excuse me.

Artists help the economy in all sorts of ways, and unfortunately, very few of them get to reap the rewards, and get lots of scorn, apparently when Mr. Bush’s bushwhacking of the NEA and the arts in general, is now beginning to be realized as not such a good idea.

Take Newburyport, MA for example. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when Newburyport was making a comeback, downtown Newburyport had been rescued and restored, but the rest of the town needed a little sprucing up.

Who moves in? Who “discovers” Newburyport, MA? A lot of artists among other folks, that’s who. From writers, to visual artists etc. They added to the vitality of the town, helped make it an attraction for tourists, new restaurants and shops etc. And now Newburyport, MA is too expensive for most artists to live in. An old, old story.

Artists have a nose for what is the next “in” place. Soho and Chelsea in New York City are two other examples. Artists moved in, and then so did expensive stores, real estate went through the roof, lots of property taxes and jobs at all the new restaurants and shops. And can most artists afford to live in those places either? Rarely.

Do artists get credit for job creating, real estate creating. Apparently not by this United States Congress, because it looks like help/funding for the NEA is going to be axed from the hopefully will be passed stimulus bill.

Photoshop Frames for Frogs

As most of you already know, but probably most of you don’t really care, George Cushing of Frog Pond, the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog, is pissed at me because he thinks the “new look” makes him look yucky.

I’m a sucker for frogs who feel sorry for themselves, and actually George has a point, he could look better. Also, in exploring my inner geek, I’m also falling in love with Photoshop all over again. So, I decided (not just for George, but also for my paintings that are on the World Wide Web) to see what I could come up with Photoshop frame-wise, to make him look just a little spiffier.

Placating frogs. Yup, that’s what we do over here at the Newburyport Blog.

Painting and Newburyport Snow Removal

I find that I clear the snow out of my driveway the way I paint. I find this both weird, but at the same time, strangely reassuring.

When it didn’t snow in Newburyport, MA, what seems like every three to four days, and only snowed now and then, or some Newburyport winters not even at all, I never even noticed a pattern of snow driveway removal by moi.

Now when it snows in Newburyport, MA, I’m starting to go into auto pilot.

First I talk to the snow, “What you again?” “What is it this time? A few cute snowflakes mixed it with a dash of drizzly icy rain?” I might say to the stuff that’s falling or already landed.

It’s the first thing I do when I walk into my Newburyport studio in the morning. I talk to my paintings. “How are we do’n today?” “You look a whole lot better than you did last night.” That sort of thing.

The next thing I do is tackle the big snow picture. No details here. Only unlike painting, with snow, I have help. I have count’em, two neighbors with snow-blowers. God bless them.

So, I always hope that my Newburyport neighbors will actually tackle the big snow picture, before I get out there with my trusty shovel.

And then comes the details, just like in painting. I clean up the edges of the driveway, clear a path to the fire hydrant, make sure there is a nifty clearing to the storage shed. Oh, yes, and make sure the top of the car has no snow.

I learned the hard way, during one Newburyport winter from hell, the snow on the top of my car turned to ice, because I figured, who cares it can stay. But it fell forward in a block and dented my hood. Showed me. Now that snow is the first to go. Not going to make that mistake again.

And then the roof-rake. I’m starting to get real obsessive here, just like with my Newburyport paintings. I’ve offered my neighbor the use of my trusty roof-rake, but, their tool of choice is definitely the very efficient snow-blower. And who could possibly blame them.

And then the driveway and I have a major chat. “I want to see pavement,” I say, “No ice, no white stuff, no trampled snow. I want my mail person to have a nice stroll to the mail box, when they deliver the mail. Hear me?” I say this very quietly, so my neighbors don’t hear me talking to my Newburyport driveway.

And then, yes, I get out the dainty, but slightly beaten up broom at the end, just the way I end up using tiny little #000 brushes on my paintings. But I’m not painting gorgeous pictures containing green stuff and warm weather, I’m longing for green stuff and warm weather instead.

Rhododendron Weather Predicting Qualities

I don’t need to turn on the weather channel or peer at my web weather channel bookmark setting on my computer, to know in the morning when it’s New England cold outside.

When I wake up and my hands feel all crinkly and dry, I know it’s one of two thing. A) I’ve developed some mysterious fatal disease over the last 8 hours, or B) the humidity in the house has dropped because it’s freezing outside.

Since so far it has never been A) I usually figure it must be B).

After a few sips of coffee, I shuffle into my studio (where I’m also trying to madly expand Mary Baker Art by obsessively designing websites to be sent out into the world via the World Wide Web) and peer out my window at my trusty outdoor thermometer. And sure enough, it’s B), the wretched thing reads below 10 degrees, and it’s freezing outside.

I also learned to tell whether it was cold outside, without looking at an outdoor thermometer, by my Dad. As a young girl, by father would take me to the dinning room window, point at the loan rhododendron in the small yard next door, and point out that the leaves on the loan rhododendron were not perky, but shriveled and pointing straight down to the ground. Ergo, my father would point out, it was freezing outside and I better “bundle up.” Sure enough he was always right.

I’ve always been fond of rhododendrons. Maybe it’s the vast array of rhododendrons at Maudslay State Park here in Newburyport, that at one point were subjects of lots of paintings by me. Or, it could be the fond memories of my father’s rhododendron weather science predictions. Or it could be multi-determined.

I’ve planted all sorts of rhododendrons in my small Newburyport garden, and I peer at them on winter mornings, trying to guess the New England temperature, before I shuffle in and peer at my trusty outdoor weather thermometer. My rhododendrons, weather predicting wise, are always right on the money.

However, I’ve noticed that rhododendrons, landscaping wise, in Newburyport, Massachusetts, appear to be going out of fashion.

As I keep squeezing yet one more rhododendron plant in my now rhododendron filled small garden, I notice that huge, literally century old, magnificent and stately rhododendron plants are being hacked out of century old High Street magnificent gardens, not to mention lesser century old rhododendrons in “lesser” Newburyport destinations.

So, either I’m out of touch with new landscaping designs (which is highly probable), or the owners of the dwelling in which these gorgeous rhododendrons are being hacked down, don’t know about their weather predicting qualities. Or maybe they do know about their weather predicting qualities, but figure since they now live in the 21st century, they can watch the weather channel instead.

Newburyport Perpetual Winter

I’m still here you know.

I meet someone in the grocery store. Their face lights up with relief, huge hug, “You haven’t left,” they say. “You didn’t go to Minnesota.”

It’s nice to see their face light up.

Endomorphins from huge hugs are always appreciated.

But the “Minnesota” thing has me stumped. Maybe in the midst of yet another New England winter from hell, I might, might consider, possibly a stint in much warmer place like North Carolina, for instance. But Minnesota? As I recall from my vast readings of Laura Ingalls Wilder, winters in Minnesota are far worse than in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

I meet someone in CVS shortly after my very nice encounter in the grocery store. “You’re still here? We thought you’d left.” No, “How nice to see you.” Certainly no lighting up of any face. No, just a good old “Newburyport Yankee,” “You’re still here?”

Ah, what a relief. The “dichotomy” that is Newburyport appears to be very much around. The “dichotomy” that I’ve written about on the Newburyport Blog for now 3 years (good grief), poked at, mused over, tried to explain, is still very much part of the community in which I live. I find myself oddly relieved by this.

I like these “tough old birds.”

“Tough old bird,” was a “saying” that my Mother used to use. This was way before feminism was even quaintly fashionable. No one in their right mind would refer to any female these days as a “tough old bird.”

Where have I been? Obsessing over the sucky, let’s face it, yes, it’s beyond sucky, economy. Wondering (vast understatement) if anyone in their right mind would buy gorgeous paintings (I’m an artist), when even the very rich are losing their houses (or at least some of their houses).

So I’ve been designing “web stuff.” (Hopefully more on this later.) Thinking that it could be a good idea to expand “Mary Baker Art” to “web stuff.” I’ve been contemplating that websites could be works of art, launched into the universe by the World Wide Web, aka the Internet.

Yes, and what better project, I say to myself, than to design websites, during a sucky New England winter, that feels like something out of Narnia when that witch was in charge. It feels sometimes, like a frozen, perpetual “Ground Hog Day.”

One of my neighbors looks at me quizzically as I brush my front steps of snow (lots of snow) with a dainty, somewhat beat-up, broom. I tell them that it gives me hope that in the not too distant future, I will be complaining about wretchedly long hot summers (this is actually true).

They shrug (it’s a good thing that I’m an artist, I can pretty much get away with this kind of nonsense) and look at me as if I’m nuts.

Search Engine Marketing and the Newburyport Blog

Again I thought I would share with the readers of the Newburyport Blog who have businesses and websites, about how the Newburyport Blog has managed to come up high or 1st on Google for any number of “key” words.

One of the keys, seems to be that Google likes to know in the title, what the content is going to be about.

So if the content is how to market your business for search engines, and how the Newburyport Blog actually pops up on Googe, it could be a good idea to have “Search Engine Marketing and the Newburyport Blog” as your title.

And the other thing that I’ve found is, that it helps to use the “key” words that are in the title, in the content as well. Not ridiculously so (this apparently would be called “keyword stuffing,” bad idea), but it appears to be giving another clue to the Google search engine, exactly what your content would be about. Writing content to market your product on the one hand, but also keeping in mind how search engines would find your business and your subject matter as well.

And as for marketing stuff, I might as well be utterly blatant, and use the Newburyport Blog to market my art work. The Sherry French Gallery, a very prestigious gallery for realistic art work in New York City, is putting me in their 3rd group show since September, which is a tremendous an honor.

The show is called “Flowers in February,” it runs from January 30th thru February 23rd, 2008. And the painting of the “Rhododendrons and Fence” below is one of the four paintings that will be in the show at the Sherry French Gallery.


The Rhododendrons in the painting were in bloom on one of my walks through the beautiful and historic South End of Newburyport. I ended up painting flowers that are all over my neighborhood in Newburyport, MA.

You can check it out as well at Mary Baker Art.

Old South, First Presbyterian Church

I came across this print of Old South, First Presbyterian Church on the Library of Congress online archives. I’d never seen this print before and I thought it was pretty amazing.


Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-10021 (b&w film copy neg.)
N.W. view of the First Presbyterian Church, Newburyport, Mass

This is the entire page, and here is more of a detailed image without the writing.


Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Prints and Photographs Division
Detail, First Presbyterian Church, Newburyport, Mass

I also love the drawing of the original steeple, which was severely damaged by the hurricane of 1938, and in 1949 it was removed and capped with a 105-foot-tall cupola. (The New York Times, May 13, 2006)


Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Prints and Photographs Division
Detail, steeple
First Presbyterian Church, Newburyport, Mass

The church hopes eventually to fully restore the steeple to its original shape. Please press here to read an earlier entry about Old South Church, and to see the comparison of what the steeple of Old South Church looks like today.

And I also love the street scene to the right of the church. The two houses in the picture, I believe still exist. As I remember it, the first house was where the famous preacher, George Whitefield lived (I have not confirmed this) when he was pastor of Old South, First Presbyterian Church in Newburyport, Massachusetts.


Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Prints and Photographs Division
Detail, street scene
First Presbyterian Church, Newburyport, Mass

Mary Eaton

Editors Note: This is a correction and clarification from an astute reader of the Newburyport Blog:

“Mary, I don’t believe George Whitefield was ever the pastor of Old South. I don’t think he ever stayed in one place long enough to become a pastor. He was a real roving evangelist.

The first house behind the church was the birthplace of William Lloyd Garrison. There is a plaque denoting that on the house.

George Whitefield was staying with the pastor in the parsonage when he died, because he was to be the guest preacher in the church the next day. The story goes that his fans surrounded the house the night before and demanded that he talk to them, so he preached from the house steps for something like six hours. He was already sick, and he didn’t survive the night.”