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Alice Brock: An Artful Life

by Jeannette de Beauvoir

Alice Brock is no washashore. “I was conceived on Long Point,” she says, smiling. “Oh, wait, you don’t want to start that far back?”

It doesn’t matter how far back you begin in Alice Brock’s life; it’s all interesting, as attendees at the Heritage Day that will be celebrated in her honor at the Provincetown Public Library on June 13 will get a chance to hear.

Maybe it started out on Long Point. Or maybe it started during the summers her father worked for Peter Hunt and the family lived on Commercial Street—“the best summers of my life,” says Brock. She decided then that she wanted to live in Provincetown forever.

There were a couple of rather famous detours on her way back here, however. Brock got married and headed out to Stockbridge to teach at a prep school run by a left-leaning scholar whose assumption was that everyone—faculty, staff, and students—were equals. “It was the mid-sixties,” Brock remembers. “My husband played the guitar, kids would come and hang out at our house on campus all the time. We were bohemians…or maybe beatniks.”

One of the kids who played and sang with Brock and her husband was Arlo Guthrie.

Brock’s mother bought the couple a church as a wedding present; her husband, an architect and sculptor, turned it into living quarters. It was a magical place, complete with bell tower and an arch made by New Bedford shipbuilders who simply reversed their usual approach to curves and space. Parents trusted Brock and her husband, as they were teachers, and more and more kids came to stay, to play, to talk. “But there I was, cooking for all those voracious teenagers!” says Brock. “That had to stop.”

Her mother found the solution: “She said, ‘there’s a diner in Stockbridge that’s for rent. I’ll help you, and you can get paid for your cooking.’” Brock smiles. “I always leap before I look, so I said, why not?”

That leap eventually brought about her extraordinarily popular cookbook, Alice’s Restaurant Cookbook, not to mention a song that became an anthem for the age, Arlo Guthrie’s anti-war hymn, Alice’s Restaurant. It was a golden time. “I loved it; it was all a lot of fun. Arlo’d been called up for the draft and that’s when he came up with the song…We were just all these hippies against the war. We lived as if the world was the way we wanted it to be.” She pauses. “That’s the way we still live.”

It was time to go to Provincetown. “I’m very lucky, because I don’t care about money,” says Brock. “When I run out of money, some more comes in, somehow. I spend the money on other people, and as it goes out it makes room for more to come in.”

Although she never took an art class, Brock had always been making things. “I love to recycle objects,” she says. “I even used to carve little figures out of sticks of chalk. I made a movie out of a roll of adding-machine tape, with narration. I always felt I was an artist, but I never saw it as a way to make money, it was all very personal. Before moving here, I had one art show in the Berkshires. Everything got sold—and I felt completely bereft! Then I came to Provincetown and I was part of a fall arts festival. I hung things for the first time—for the first time, I had a gallery. And I loved having a gallery!” She had that gallery for the next forty years. “I always enjoyed talking with all the people who came in…you have to understand, the sixties, it was a wonderful time for most people, and they love going back to that time. And so I sold art!”

And she has continued to sell art. Her stones, adorned with pictures of women and of cats, can be found literally all over the world. While she no longer has a gallery on Commercial Street—“this is the first time that I don’t have a view of the water”—this summer on weekends she’ll be in one of the art shacks on MacMillan Pier, where everyone will have the opportunity to take home an Alice Brock painting, stone, or book.

Though she now has emphysema and requires oxygen, Alice Brock is still creating, and still in love with the place where she was conceived. “I love Provincetown with all my heart,” she says. “Every day I feel blessed to be here.”

Alice Brock will be the guest of honor at this year’s Provincetown Heritage Day celebration at the Provincetown Public Library, 356 Commercial St., on Tuesday, June 13 at 6 p.m. The event will feature a Q&A with Brock and is free and open to the public. For more information call 508.487.7094 or visit

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Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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