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Abstract Indeed

June 23, 2011 6:28 pm0 comments

altA noted art historian, speaking the other day off the record, ruminated on his academic colleagues’ approach to art. Rarely is it without their having read several publications before viewing a given work. “Academia tends to narrow focus, sadly,” he said.
Ideally, art reflects the world as it moves us while we move through this world. No matter the medium in question, its final destination must be our own heart. A polluted optic strains our ability to receive the purest intent of a painter, movie director, poet, or composer. It is your right to find yourself troubled, elated, mystified, inspired on your own terms.
If you have found yourself intimidated at the prospect of standing before a painting without having forearmed yourself, there is no better opportunity to leap into the void than to give yourself over to the work of John Grillo.
In fact, you’d be better off to stop reading right here before any ulterior thoughts tint your eventual perceptions.

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The Exuberant Images of Joåo de Brito

6:25 pm0 comments

altThe colors are vibrant and bright, bright as the sunlight in João de Brito’s native Portugal and just as welcoming. They belong to paintings that comprise scenes from the artist’s homeland, scenes from his travels in Europe, scenes from here on the Outer Cape, that form a distinctive way of looking at what de Brito calls the “discovery of the everyday.”
You can see some of these paintings at Thanassi Gallery during this year’s Provincetown Portuguese Festival, as part of a special exhibit of João de Brito’s work in oils and giclée, titled Coastal Views.
De Brito is no stranger to Provincetown. A longtime member of the venerable Beachcomber’s Club—and the first Azorean visual artist invited to join—he has a long history with the town. “I was offered a stay in Harry Kemp’s shack,” he says. “I was not able to stay for any length of time, but I spent several hours there. His poetry moved me incredibly… it’s a special world out in the dunes.” (Included in the exhibit at the Thanassi Gallery is a painting of the Tasha and Margo Gelb dune shacks.)
The names he cites as friends are icons of Provincetown, past and present. “I did a painting of Flyer Santos, and this fellow from Toronto fell in love with it and bought it right away,” he remembers. “Napi showed me his collection, and looking at all those paintings—it is like taking a journey. There’s a special energy here, especially in the winter.

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Rebirth of the Barn

6:17 pm0 comments

altCharles Hawthorne founded the Cape Cod School of Art atop Miller Hill Road in a large barn built in 1900 on a sand dune. That was the moment that gave birth to the Provincetown art colony as well as thousands of artistic careers. Now known as the Hawthorne Barn, the large studio is assuredly one of the most historically significant structures in Provincetown, based solely on the events that happened within: Hans Hofmann and Jackson Pollock argued in there; Divine and the Dreamlanders partied in there; Tennessee Williams danced in there; an art class of nuns painted nude male models in there, or so the story goes.
In 1978, the federal government added the Hawthorne Barn to the National Register of Historic places. Despite the historic importance of the barn, it fell into disrepair, and poor management turned it into an empty building with little public function.
Not long ago, the barn stood on 17 acres of undeveloped land. Now, high-priced condos crowd the property as parcel after parcel has been sold, an indication as to how truly imperiled the Hawthorne studio was. But there was a huge sigh of relief when the barn sold in 2009. And now there are shouts of joy as the plans for a new artistic life for the Hawthorne Barn are unveiled.

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Hot Wax

June 3, 2011 2:32 pm0 comments

Encaustics Image - Joanne Mattera-Studio
Wax. It’s a word that you want to touch. It calls to mind different things in different contexts – the car guy who spends the weekend lovingly waxing his car; a room with scented candles, the height of romance; or a painful hair removal option that reveals sexy smooth skin. Still, it’s a word with a texture, a scent, a vibe all its own. And when heated up and mixed with pigments, it becomes an artistic medium as old as the pharaohs, yet new enough to be called a trend – encaustics.
The ancient Egyptians applied encaustic portraits called fayum to mummy cases. In ancient Greece, paint and wax were mixed together to both caulk holes in ships and to decorate them. The practice became less common over time, with a spike in interest as discoveries about the ancient world revealed the fayum portraits in the nineteenth century. But again, interest waned until the 1950s and 60s when American artists rediscovered it, the most famous of whom, Jasper Johns, used pigmented wax to create seminal works, such as “Flag” (1954), “Target with Four Faces” (1955), and “Map” (1961). Now again, encaustics are all the rage.
“You could say it’s an up-and-coming medium, although it’s been around for over 2,000 years,” laughs Cherie Mittenthal, director of the Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill and an artist herself.

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Art of COLOR

May 19, 2011 7:00 am0 comments

Reaching for the Sky:  4 Artists Working with COLOR! at Hutson Gallery by Philip Gerstein You may be tempted to consider the many uses of color, while viewing the current four-person exhibition presented by the Hutson Gallery (see sidebar). In each of these artists’ works color is not simply important, [...]

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Go To Helltown

May 5, 2011 6:00 am0 comments

by Steve Desroches  Sometime getting a seat at the table requires a few thrown elbows. As with any community, the art world has its establishment. Getting attention paid to new voices, different perspectives, and unique points of view can be a challenge.  Even with as many as 60 plus galleries, [...]

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Get Your Green On

April 14, 2011 6:00 am0 comments

Appearances:  The Provincetown Green Arts Festival by Rebecca M. Alvin Springtime in Provincetown is festival time. This year, we welcome a new festival to the schedule. Appearances: The Provincetown Green Arts Festival celebrates the intersection of the natural beauty that surrounds us and human creativity in all its forms. Sponsored [...]

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Beyond the Starry Night

February 16, 2011 2:08 pm0 comments

Something happens to us when he sun goes down. The change is subtle, gradual as we shift progressively from the reality of our day-to-day lives into our night time selves, and ultimately deeper still in to the unconscious self of our dreams.
For centuries, this shift brought on by the night has been creatively articulated in myths and legends, in music, dance, theater, and film, and in art. This weekend, the Albert Merola Gallery opens a show, Night, featuring work by 17 artists working in diverse forms.
“We don’t do theme shows too often because it’s difficult to ask an artist to do something they may not do,,” says James Balla who co-owns and curates for the Albert Merola Gallery with Albert Merola. But the desire was there to create two theme shows – one on the night and one on the day. Although plans for the second show are still in the works, this first one seemed a natural fit for the gallery.
“When we started thinking, so many of our artists do this [theme] already,” explains Merola.

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