Newport Art Museum

Newport, RI



Born Newporters: Documentary Portraits

November 11, 2000 - January 14, 2001


The faces and words of the people in Kathryn Whitney Lucey's photographs trace individual lives and the life of a community. In "Born Newporters: Documentary Portraits" that opened November 11 at the Newport Art Museum, Ms. Lucey brings together over 70 photographs of people who claim the special distinction of being Newport natives: with a few exceptions, all were born south of Admiral Kalbfus Road in this small city by the sea.

Kate Lucey met many of her subjects during the ten years she worked as a photographer for The Newport Daily News. Some are very familiar faces: former Mayor of Newport Paul Gaines was photographed at City Hall and Senator Claiborne Pell in his home office at "Pelican Ledge." Others are less well known but just as interesting: white-bearded lobsterman Louis Jagschitz and Katey Grovell, a volunteer worker and proud participant in every parade Newport has to offer.

If the face is a map of a human life, then these faces taken together are a map of Newport. What all these people have in common " their unabashed pride in being native...and their willingness to be active and involved in the community", comments Ms. Lucey.

These are faces of both constancy and change. With persistent dedication to others, to excellence or to worthy causes, these individuals have in one way or another, changed the face of Newport. They represent the fabric of the community. They are the old familiar traditions, the faces behind the institutions, the colorful and the creative.

Photojournalist Kathryn Whitney Lucey moved to Newport in 1986. In addition to documenting Newport and the other island communities for The Newport Daily News, Ms. Lucey has served on special assignments in Zimbabwe, a refugee camp in Belize, and in France to shoot the Globe Challenge Around-the-World solo sailing race. In 1990 she began an ongoing project in Jeremie, Haiti, photographing life at the Haitian Health Foundation. She is the recipient of awards from the New England Press and Editors Association, United Press International, and the Rhode Island Press Association.

"Born Newporters" has been generously supported by the Bank of Newport, The Newport Daily News and the Newport Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Mary F. Callahan and Sheila M. Winter. (Directors of Gladding School of the Dance)

Gladding School studio, 1998

Generations of Newporters have taken ballet, tap or jazz lessons at the Gladding School of the Dance, and performed on the Rogers High School stage in the school's annual spring recitals. The school was founded by the late Dorothy B. Gladding, When she retired, she sold her studio to Mary F. Callahan and Sheila M. Winter, two longtime students and associate teachers. For 30 years, Callahan and Winter have introduced hundreds of local girls (and some boys) to the art of dance. (left: Mary F. Callahan and Sheila M. Winter. (Directors of Gladding School of the Dance) Gladding School studio, 1998)

Both women studied ballet, tap, acrobatics and baton with Miss Gladding throughout their childhood and teen years, and graduated from St. Catherine Academy. Callahan (the former Mary Frances Connell) married Edward J. Callahan and raised six daughters and a son. Winter graduated from Salve Regina College and was a mathematics teacher for the Newport school system for 17 years. After 14 years as the dean of girls at Rogers High School, she retired in 1990,

Throughout their lives, Callahan and Winter have maintained a love of dance and an eagerness to introduce others to it. In addition to providing training in classical ballet, tap and various styles of jazz, the women seek to instill a sense of poise and an air of self-confidence in their students. "When we were little, there really weren't that many things offered for girls to do," Callahan recalls. "Dancing lessons and piano lessons were pretty much it."

Even when we took over the studio, girls didn't have the sports opportunities that they have now," Winter adds. "Girls today can take ballet lessons and play soccer or do gymnastics or other sports, and rightfully so."

Callahan was born in Newport; Winter moved here when she was six-months-old. That made her a "carpetbagger" to old-time Newporters like Callahan's father, the late Edward "Tope" Connell. But Winter has never felt like anything other than a Newporter. She and Callahan have contributed much to the community's appreciation of the arts. In addition to teaching at their own studio, they have taught and choreographed for community theater groups, liturgical services, summer arts programs and school productions.

Some of their current students are the daughters and sons of the girls Callahan and Winter taught when they took over the studio from Miss Gladding. "I think that's a great compliment...when our former students send their children to us," Callahan says. "I think that we opened the door for them to at least explore the arts," Winter adds


John "Fud" Benson (Stonecarver/Letter Artist)

The John Stevens Shop, Thames Street, 1998

As a child in the 1940s and 50s in Newport's Point neighborhood, world-renowned stonecarver, Fud Benson, thought the city was "heaven on earth." "You know," he says, we really did have it all to ourselves." The Newport that Benson remembers from his youth is all but gone, but parts of it still live on. The John Stevens Shop, the Thames Street stonecutting shop his father bought in 1927, is still in the family. Benson, though he still carves stone, has passed on much of the day-to-day business to his son, Nick. The shop, which has been in continual operation since 1705, is as much a part of Newport's heritage as the White Horse Tavern or the Colony House. "All I have to do is survive another seven years and I'll make the 300th anniversary" (of the shop's founding), Benson said during a 1998 interview. (left: John "Fud" Benson (Stonecarver/Letter Artist) The John Stevens Shop, Thames Street, 1998)

Benson is a third-generation Newporter. His father's ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower; his mother's a short time later on the Speedwell. His boyhood home was on Washington Street, and Benson remembers rowing across the harbor to Goat Island, then home to the Torpedo Station. The driftways that line the harbor along Washington Street were always bustling with some kind of seagoing activities.

"Newport has changed dramatically," he says. "in a sense, all those changes take it away from you. And that's the kind of thing that's upsetting." The annual summer influx of tourists and activity may dull the city's charm for him, but "for eight or nine months of the year I still love it."

Benson is probably best known for his work at the John F. Kennedy gravesite and memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Among his numerous other commissions are the inscriptions on the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C., the West Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Boston City Hall, the Massachusetts Statehouse and the Civil Rights Memorial in Birmingham, Alabama. He has also done inscriptions on the gravesite markers for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Tennessee Williams and John Nicholas Brown.

Read more about the Newport Art Museum in Resource Library Magazine

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/27/11

Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2011 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.