New Bedford – There’s a herring gull named Glenn who flies around the whaling town, and he’s about to make his debut in an upcoming children’s book.
“New Bedford has so much history, so much future, and so much to offer as an artist,” said Margo Connolly-Mason, author of And Then… Glen.
The children’s book is about following the feathered citizen into downtown in hopes of catching him causing a nuisance in the city. Instead, society embraces him and makes people laugh with his wit and charm.
“It’s just about exploring the places where he lives,” said Connolly-Mason. “We realize that he belongs here as much as anyone else—how the city belongs to everyone here.”
Respecting the seagulls of New Bedford is one of the many priorities of the New Bedford Wheeling National Historical Park. In July 2021, the park Signs have been posted asking drivers to watch out for little seagulls on the street.
“People just fly out of here!” said Jennifer Smith, superintendent New Bedford Wheeling National Historical Park In the previous Standard Times Article. “I felt there were a lot of little seagulls around and we needed to look for them.”
Connolly-Mason was inspired to write the book after meeting “the actual Glenn” while dining at Moby Dick Brewing Co. with her son, Roger.
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“When people were getting up and leaving their tables, there was a seagull that kept showing up on the tables and snatching up the fries,” she said.
“We were laughing at him, and the waitress came over and said, ‘Oh, this is Glenn.'” He’s here all the time. I really liked the name and that it had that personality.”
Hatch Street Studio Artist in New Bedford
As one of the artists in Hatch Street StudioAnd Connolly Mason is no stranger to the local art scene. She also sells her work through the Etsy shop MargoPaints Co. According to the artist’s statement on her website, Connolly Mason’s art “depicts the objects and scenes she discovered while roaming beaches, salt marshes, working waterfronts, and coastal neighborhoods in Massachusetts, Alaska, and South Carolina.”
A native of New Bedford, she has a degree in Biology, Environmental Studies, and Environmental Education from the University of Pennsylvania and a Certificate in Natural Science Illustration with Rhode Island School of Design.
Connolly-Mason has served as the after-school program director at Friends Academy, and is a reader for Brown’s admissions application UMass Dartmouth As well as the Admissions Counselor for Alaska Southeast University. She was also a senior educator at Buzzards Bay Alliance Fisheries Technician for Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries.
Artist-in-Residence at New Bedford Whaling National Park
In 2022, Connolly-Mason is artist-in-residence at New Bedford Whale National Historic Park Artist-in-Residence Program, which consists of four artists, one per quarter, of various disciplines, working in their capacity for a period of three months, According to the site.
Of the 420 national parks in the United States, only 50 currently offer this type of program.
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“New Bedford understands the value of creativity and getting artists to tell stories,” said Lindsay Compton, park ranger and residency program supervisor.
Compton said the program is a creative approach to storytelling and community engagement in a way that is not a formal lecture.
Since the launch of the program in 2018, the park has hosted 15 artists. In 2022, the program hosted their first Kentucky artist from the New England area. This year, they will host artists from Boston, Providence, New Bedford and Portland, Oregon.
“Margo is an amazing artist. The projects that really float to the top, specifically like Margo, are the ones that talk about something specific in New Bedford, using New Bedford as a source of inspiration,” said Compton.
“And Margo made it very clear what she wanted to do, how she wanted to do it and how she was going to engage the audience while doing all these things.”
New scenes from Bedford in “And Then… Glen”
In October, Connolly-Mason said she had started working on her idea. As a mother of two, she is most familiar with children’s books.
“I try to pay a lot of attention to what we’re reading and what the illustrations are,” she said, adding that “Jabari Jumps” by Gaia Cornwall, “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats and “Let’s Go! A Harvest Story” by Hannah Lindoff were One of her most important sources of inspiration is the look and feel of her book.
“I really wanted to reflect the diversity of cultures that we have, as well as the businesses downtown,” she added.
“I’m always in downtown New Bedford. So just the experience of being in yoga classes and listening to seagulls screaming outside the studios and going to The Baker every weekend and seeing Victor [Fonseca] Greetings customers, I wanted to show that.”
Taking pictures of the area the previous summer, said Connolly Mason, the book contained illustrations from bakerand the YMCA and downtown waterfront, although New Bedford is not specifically mentioned in the story.
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She said, “I want it to be appealing to a wide range of audiences and for people to learn about things about the places in the book that they might think is where they live.”
Listings from local restaurants, a map of the national park, and downtown area brochures about Frederick Douglass and Abolition Row Park were also used as materials for the collage art.
“She’s incredible. Margo is really charismatic,” said Compton. “I was really impressed with her work ethic, her professionalism, her creativity, and the way she effortlessly interacts with our visitors and the community at large.”
Compton said the plan is for the park to print about 100 books and give them away for free to the public. After that, it will be Connolly-Mason’s decision on how to proceed.
“I hope to do more,” she said. “I definitely need to spend some time figuring out the next steps, but there are more stories I can definitely tell about Glen,” said Connolly-Mason.
Standard-Times staff writer Seth Chitwood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @tweet.Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.