A Guide to Provincetown’s Gallery Season
by Rebecca M. Alvin
There’s nothing that gets as many eye rolls and groans as posing the question, “What is ‘art’?” It’s a frustratingly difficult thing to define, for one thing, but also it causes us to think about what difference it makes. Why is it so important to define such things? And if you are a Dadaist, art is everything and nothing all at once. So how do we go about classifying the things we consider art? It’s a conundrum when you are writing a gallery season preview that covers a town steeped in art like Provincetown. There are all kinds of artists in town, all different forms of art, and at least as many opinions about what is and is not art and who is and is not an artist. In the end, we’re left only with the actual materials being used as a way to classify the unclassifiable and put order to a season brimming with art in all its iterations.
It is not controversial to say the field of fine art on the Outer Cape is dominated by painting. Certainly there is a rich history of excellence in the field of painting in Provincetown, so it is really no wonder, and even today there are so many talented artists working with paint. But this season, it is hard to miss the unusual amount of photography, a medium that has not exactly been embraced by gallerists and collectors, at least not in the same way that painting has.
The Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) starts off the summer season with two back-to-back photography shows. Elman + Holt: The Outer Cape Art Colony in Portrait, June 17 – August 7, is an exhibition curated by Ethan Cohen and Jane Paradise featuring two photographers known for portraits, Norma Holt and Ray Elman. Next up is another photography show, Sum of Our Affections, July 8 – August 28, this one focused on David Hilliard and curated by Bill Arning. The Hilliard show is mounted in partnership with the Schoolhouse Gallery, a gallery that has long championed the art of photography with shows every season that include this medium. The Schoolhouse is currently hosting a photography show called Untagged in cooperation with the Provincetown International Film Festival, the HBO film Suited, and the new queer black men’s magazine The Tenth, through June 22. The show explores the relationship between perceived and projected identity. Later this summer, August 5 – 24, they will also present another really interesting photography show, this time by poet Eileen Myles. Diary is a show of photographs from Myles’ Instagram feed, bringing the 20th-century art form into a 21st century context.
Provincetown is less well known for its media artists. Those who work in photography, film, video, and digital media are not often the center of discussions about the art colony and its history, but a number of galleries are including exhibitions of work in these media. Without questions, AMP is the gallery in town that is most open to media art, with multiple shows that feature photography, video installations, and even a virtual reality program. In fact, through the end of the month AMP presents a show of work by Bobby Busnach, David Macke, Alice O’Malley, Ethan Shoshan, Gail Thacker, Conrad Ventur, Jamie Casertano, Bobby Miller, David Chick, and Shaari Neretin. From Casertano’s nostalgic photography capturing specific, evocative moments to Miller’s photographs of Cookie Mueller and Chick’s portraits of the late Holly Woodlawn, photography plays a vital role in the show. But also, film and video are incorporated, with Nerretin’s film Sound Bytes: Mass(ive) Consumption of fictional dinner guests “consum[ing] sounds familiar to us from digital media,” and Ethan Shoshan’s Screen Tests for Disappearing into the Ocean, featuring images from an immersive performance done in front of a video projection, bringing together multiple types of artistic expression into fixed images.
But even AMP’s group shows regularly feature media art in the same space as more traditional mediums like painting and drawing. Of special note is an upcoming virtual reality experience by Cindy Sherman Bishop, who regularly shows work at AMP. The 3D program, Haven tells the story of a Syrian refugee family through digital doodling and voice-over narration. It premiered earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival. It is part of an exhibition of paintings, drawings, and sculpture by Barbara Cohen, M P Landis, Midge Battelle, Bebe Beard, Anne Corrsin, and Arlene Shulman.
Bowersock Gallery offers a show of work by Bear Kirkpatrick, whose dramatic mixed media portraits are created through layers of photography as well as painting, resulting in a truly unique look that invites interpretation. Kirkpatrick will show alongside Diane Kirkpatrick (no relation), who also works in portraiture, but as a painter. The show is aptly titled Windows to the Soul and runs July 29 – August 9.
The wide range of painting exhibitions this season is a testament to the continuing vitality of the medium and its timeless appeal. At Jo Hay Studio, which just reopened in a new space, there are several painting shows that demonstrate this range. They start things off with a show of KJ Show’s large-scale oil paintings depicting the iconic Converse brand sneakers June 28 – July 7 before bringing out a new artist for Provincetown, Chris Lopez, whose body of work spans two different approaches to its subject of masculinity, July 17 – 24, in time for Bear Week. August 1 – 11 they will host an exhibition of works by Tess Barbato, whose meticulously detailed images of money and other symbols of capitalism strike a chord in this Occupy Wall Street era, followed by Jo Hay’s own show featuring her highly regarded rabbit series Rabbit Habit August 12 – 21.
One of Provincetown’s most prominent contemporary painters is John Dowd. As we’ve grown accustomed to, Dowd will have two shows this season at William Scott Gallery, July 1 –6 and September 2 –15. The gallery, which primarily features painting. will also exhibit the nostalgic images of inanimate objects painted by longtime local artist Kate Ryan August 5 – 17, and the colorful, yet moody work of Chet Jones, August 19 – 30. Their season is full of other painting shows, as well, including some new works by Daphne Confar, July 22 – August 3, who paints her intimate portraits onto vintage BINGO cards this year in a new direction for her.
Albert Merola Gallery has currently underway a show of drawings by Pat deGroot through June 23, but the gallery will also feature new paintings by Donna Flax, June 24 – July 7, whose work explores the starry night sky, as well as new work from Irene Lipton and Tabitha Vevers July 8 – 21, and Richard Baker July 29 – August 11.
The Larkin Gallery has a full schedule of artists this season, including its most notable, Kenneth Hawkey, whose latest show, August 19 – September 6, features a series of small representational paintings capturing moments that are both familiar and full of questions.
Over on the west end of town, Gary Marotta Fine Art has a show of work by Katy Bisby June 17 –July 21, including her delightful drawings of pre-adolescent girls and paintings that evoke childhood memories. Later in the season, Frank Malafronte’s work will be featured in an August 12 – September 23 exhibition of his ocean-inspired paintings. Nearby at the Adam Peck Gallery, which will now have shows of work by several artists, Sian Robertson will be showing her wonderful collage pieces, July 27 – August 2, which were such a hit last year.
Of course, there are also a few shows this year with work from Provincetown’s rich art history. In fact, at the Bakker Gallery, there will be an Alvin Ross show July 8 – 17 featuring previously unseen works on paper and oil paintings. They also have a new discovery with the Florence Brillinger show August 12 – 21. Brillinger painted in Provincetown in the 1910s, then in Paris in the 1920s before moving back here and ultimately marrying artist Fritz Pfeiffer. The Gallery has work from her various periods and they are excited to be able to demonstrate her growth as an artist as her style changed in several directions over the five decades that she painted. The Brillinger show kicks off a series of shows featuring female artists over a period of 8 weeks into the fall, with exhibitions of work by Dorothy Loeb, Evelin Bodfish Bourne, Dorothy Lake Gregory, Nicoletta Poli, Angele Myrer, Susan Flint, and Jane Jarvis Mumford.
Likewise, Julie Heller Gallery is also featuring women artists with a show called New York Society of Women Artists 1925, July 29 – August 25, in addition to a print show July 1 – 28. In Heller’s other gallery, Julie Heller East, there are a number of exciting shows, including one featuring Jim Forsberg’s work August 5 – 18.
Berta Walker Gallery continues its long history of representing important artists associated with Provincetown. Connecting Provincetown’s fine art and dramatic arts backgrounds, they will mount a show celebrating the Eugene O’Neill Centennial with Bound East for Provincetown, July 22 – August 14. The show features work by artists who were here in 1916 when O’Neill changed the face of American theater with his groundbreaking Bound East for Cardiff in 1916. Featured artists include Charles W. Hawthorne, Oliver Chaffee, Blanche Lazzell, Ross Moffett, Agnes Weinrich, Gerrit Beneker, Edwin Dickenson, Dorothy Lake Gregory, Marsden Hartley, Lucy L’Engle, William L’Engle, Tod Lindenmuth, Kyra Markham, and others.
But first, now through July 10, there is a show of work by a quartet of artists in (or nearing) their nineties. Naughty Nineties features the paintings of Carmen Cicero, Varujan Boghosian’s neo-surrealist assemblages and collages, Gloria Nardin’s photographs, and Ed Giobbi’s vibrant paintings. The celebration comes as Boghosian turns 90 this year, a fact that will also be celebrated at the Fine Arts Work Center (FAWC) with the exhibition: Varujan Boghosian, Ninety! Visual Poet Literature in Art, Constructions & Collage July 29 – August 22 and at their 40th Annual Art Auction where he will be honored.
At PAAM there are a number of exciting shows, but interestingly, we have to wait until August for painting this year. Miriam Laufer is the subject of a retrospective August 12 – October 16, and David Shainberg has his turn August 26 – November 6. Both painters had colorful palettes that should make PAAM a lively place through the end of the season. But before these shows, PAAM has the William Evaul show July 1 – August 21, offering some 40 works, mostly Evaul’s masterful white-line prints, but also including drawings and paintings, as well from his more than 40 years creating in Provincetown.
Also working in white line printmaking is William Skerritt, whose new body of work will be featured at the Hutson Gallery July 1 – 7. Skerritt infuses his prints with a kinetic energy by selecting subjects in motion.
At the Oils by the Sea/Roccapriore Gallery, there are a number of shows in all media, but of special interest is their ongoing commitment to the next generation of artists with what’s become an annual youth exhibit during Provincetown Family Week. This year, two artists who participated in PAAM’s highly successful ArtReach program will show together July 23 – 30 at the gallery. Sixteen-year-old Kaleigh Mason and 13-year-old Sam Starobin are this year’s artists, and as has been the case for the past two years, a portion of all sales from this exhibit will benefit PAAM’s Youth Program.
Meanwhile, the Schoolhouse Gallery has scheduled an August 26 – September 14 exhibition of works on paper by the late sculptor Conrad Malicoat, the son of prominent artists Philip and Barbara Malicoat. In addition, new artists on their roster include Ted Larsen, Frankie Rice, and Dave Walsh. Walsh will participate in a group show with Lauren Ewing, Bernd Haussmann, and Bill Scully June 24 – July 13, and Rice’s work can be seen alongside that of Mark Adams, Daniel Heyman, Eileen Myles, and Doug Padgett, July 15 – August 3.
Rice Polak always brings together artists for eclectic group shows that speak to the larger concept of the variety of artmaking processes, subjects, and results. By design, each show brings you in touch with your likes and dislikes in art by putting together such diverse artists as Jennifer Goldfinger, Rebecca Kinkead, Joshua Meyer, Sean Thomas, and Christine Triebert August 18 – September 7). Goldfinger is new to the gallery, as are several artists this year, including Polish painter Stanley Bielen, sculptor Janice Redman, and New England painter Shaun MacDavid, and Parisian sculptor Iren Handschuh. These artists and returning gallery artists are currently exhibiting together in a group show, and will also participate in another group show in the fall.
This year Kobalt also introduces three new artists, all of whom will be featured in their What’s New With You? exhibition July 1 – 7. Daniel Fleming is an abstract symbolist who works with large canvases to present provocative views of both contemporary and historic events. Jessica Brilli comes to us from Boston with paintings that combine graphic design elements with American realism. And Miami-based painter Carlos Ramirez brings his accomplished fashion design background to his new work.
There are also some thematic group exhibitions this season. Albert Merola Gallery always gives filmmaker John Waters a show to curate and this year is no different. Catastrophe (July 22 – August 11) will include works selected by Waters from artists Richard Bosman, Asger Carlsen, Peter Garfield, Bruce Gilden, Bill Lowenburg, Sam McKinniss, Enrique Metinides, Arnold Odermatt, Brett Reichman, Charlotte Neel Ritto, Raffael Waldner, and Waters himself.
The Cortile Gallery has long focused on large group shows grouped under loose thematic umbrellas. This year, they’ve shifted things to highlight artists with exhibitions of their own. Tim Basil Ering’s work will be featured June 17 – 27, and Michele Usibelli’s will be the focus July 29 – August 8. As tradition has it, they will still have their summer Grand Season Opening reception on July 8, accompanied by a group show through July 27. This year is particularly exciting as it is their 10-year anniversary.
Three-dimensional work is also sometimes underappreciated, but sculpture, with the many forms it can take and the many different materials it can be made of, is alive and well in Provincetown. For example, Paul Bowen will be exhibiting new work in bronze, alongside some works on paper in a show with painter Richard Tinkler, August 12 – 25, at Albert Merola Gallery. But first, the aluminum sculpture of Timothy Woodman is featured June 24 – July 7.
Assemblage, mixed media, and collage are also well represented in town this season. At Hutson Gallery, Gay Malin returns with two new bronze sculptures, but also delights with her watercolors, in a new exhibition with Gary Zack July 22 – August 4. Working in two mediums that are almost opposites, Malin demonstrates why you should never lock an artist into a finite category.
Two of our area’s finest assemblage and found-object artists are Conny Hatch and Dave Laro. Hatch shows with Helen Shulman August 5 – 11 in an interesting duo show called Out of Hand. Shulman offers abstract oils and encaustic paintings, while Hatch works primarily with driftwood pieces arranged into forms of life such as fish.
Laro delights with the nostalgic, often tongue-in-cheek figures and images he works into his assemblages in two shows this season, first a solo show July 8 – 14 and then his own pairing with Ted Polomis, an artist who paints the kinds of objects that intrigue in a similar way to the constructions of Laro. The show is called Double Edged and runs August 12 – 18.
Kobalt rounds out the summer schedule with a special event featuring artist and executive director of Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill Cherie Mittenthal’s encaustic work along with guest artist Del Filardi from Truro, an octogenarian artist best known for her metal sculptures of bird life – notably the great blue heron. Filardi will also show her more abstract work. The show is called Great Blues, and it runs September 2 – 8.
For information about upcoming shows and contact information and addresses for all galleries mentioned, turn to our Stroll section, which begins on page 16 in this issue. Pick up the magazine every week for a comprehensive listing of current exhibitions.