Dominic Nicastro, 64, a father of three and grandfather of five, was a lifelong fisherman when fishing vessels numbered into the hundreds and landed millions of pounds of fish here daily.
Jay VanDerpool, 47, a father of two, continues to make his living from the sea as a Rockport lobsterman.
These men are among the 154 faces portrayed in 71 photographs featured in the new exhibition”Portraits of a Working Waterfront” at the Cape Ann Museum. The show was designed to illustrate the maritime web of relationships that exist in Gloucester, the nation’s oldest seaport. Generations of Cape Ann families have made their living with jobs connected to the ocean and the aquatic chain of jobs continues to evolve into the 21st century as the fishing industry responds to ever-changing government regulations and the resulting economic fallout.
The portraits represent the fishermen who work offshore and those who work at the businesses onshore, as well as their wives, children and a host of others in between whose livelihood depends on the fishermen’s success at sea. Although fishing tends to be a male-dominated industry, several women are front and center, including Viking Gustafson of the Gloucester Marine Railways, and Ann Molloy of the family-run Neptune’s Harvest, a fish fertilizer producer.
The show opens Saturday at the museum, which went beyond its usual parameters to reach out to a segment of the community who may not see themselves aligned with the city’s cultural anchor.
These portraits by Dedham-based photographer Jim Hooper grew from a suggestion made by his friend Nonie Brady, who had an art studio in Gloucester and a deep love for the town. The resulting special exhibition represents an 18-month effort to capture the spirit of those who work the Cape Ann waterfront.
Hooper has always been on the lookout for adventure. As a 21-year-old college drop-out, he secured a berth on an oil tanker and went around the globe. Immediately upon disembarking from the tanker, he found work on the 50-foot commercial fishing vessel Kingdom and spent weeks at a time on the Pacific line-fishing for albacore tuna.
Fast forward to a college degree, an early retirement as a successful commercial real estate broker in Boston, and a year-long study of photography at Boston University, and a new career was born.