Boston Globe: In Gloucester, ‘Above the Fold’ celebrates those behind the lens

January 4, 2024

The Cape Ann Museum show spotlights the photojournalists of the Gloucester Daily Times.

GLOUCESTER — “Above the Fold: The Photographers of the Gloucester Daily Times, 1973-2005” includes well over 200 items: photographs, cameras, lenses, contact sheets, press passes, old front pages (”old” as in 19th-century old), a photo enlarger, reporter’s notebooks, even a police scanner. An additional batch of photographs make up a 10-minute slide show.

With such an abundance to take in, there’s a temptation to see the show in multiple ways: as social documentary, as newspaper history, as a collection of striking and powerful images — often as, for lack of a better word, artistry. It’s hard not to be knocked out by the composition and textures of Josh Reynolds’s 1998 view of a Coast Guard boat bringing food to a Russian freezer ship.

All of those perspectives certainly relate to “Above the Fold,” which is the newspaper term for the top half of Page One. But there’s a simpler, all-encompassing way to view the show: as a love letter. The objects of that love include newspapering, photojournalism, the why and wherefores of daily life, which is what daily journalism springs from.

Those whys and wherefores can be general: Little League games, civic meetings, weather bad and weather good. They can be regional: the Blizzard of ‘78, hockey camp. They can be specific to Cape Ann: the fishing industry, the lure of the sea generally, a distinctive sense of place and of history that has gone with that.

As you might expect, the show is also a love letter to Cape Ann — specifically, the four communities that are the Daily Times’s north-of-Boston bailiwick: Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, and Manchester-by-the-Sea.

“Above the Fold” runs at the Cape Ann Museum through March 17. It’s curated by the museum’s head librarian and archivist, Trenton Carls.

There are two introductory sections, one devoted to Charlie Lowe, the paper’s first full-time photographer; the other looks at Cape Ann newspapers before the GDT, which published its first edition on June 18, 1888. This section is where those front pages appear. Fraying, yellow, stained, they’re a papery window on a distant past. Publications include Perley’s Trader Gazette, Procters’ Able Sheet, and The Gloucester News and Semi-Weekly Messenger. With names like those, what would their URLs be if they still existed?

The bulk of “Above the Fold” offers some very different papery windows, the photographic kind. These are considerably more recent in time, though still opening on the past. The show is mostly organized by photographer. The featured former GDT staffers include Lowe, Reynolds, Jim Mahoney, Kenn Shrader, Mitch Eagan, Amy Sweeney, Cristin Gisler, Paul Bilodeau, Desi Smith, Mike Dean, Jessica Murray, Mary Roy, Jackie Bennett, Sally O’Maley, and Bart Piscitello. There are some 150 photographs by them. Another 60 are the work of GDT stringers and reporters. Those are gathered together on the gallery back wall, collage-like, unframed and umatted.

Two thematic sections are devoted to St. Peter’s Fiesta, held annually in Gloucester in June, and the 1991 “perfect storm” nor’easter. The latter comprises eight photographs — nine, if you add in the one elsewhere in the gallery of a press conference for “The Perfect Storm” movie. That’s not the only movie photo. There’s one of Cher, in Rockport, filming “Mermaids,” in 1989. Breaking news, features, human interest, local color, even celebrities: You name it. They’re all in “Above the Fold.”

The show is on the third floor. Visitors who take the stairs might notice on the second floor by the landing 16 color portraits of Gloucester fishermen that Jim Hooper took in 2013-14. They’re worth pausing for. Another portrait from the series is on that floor nearby, in the Out o’ Gloucester gallery.

Also in that gallery are nine black-and-white photographs by Arnie Jarmak, relating to the demolition of Gloucester’s Fishermen’s Institute, in 1974. Anyone who saw Jarmak’s 2022 retrospective at Boston College’s McMullen Museum knows what an engaged and caring photographer he is. Those qualities all come through here. He worked for many years at The Chelsea Record — another north-of-Boston newspaper, if a lot less north. In Jarmak, the GDT photographers have a kindred spirit, and vice versa.

By Mark Feeney Globe Staff

ABOVE THE FOLD: The Photographers of the Gloucester Daily Times, 1973-2005

At Cape Ann Museum, 27 Pleasant St., Gloucester, through March 17. 978-283-0455, home.capeannmuseum.org/

Read the article here.

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