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Ten Things I Love About You

Adventures in the Provincetown Art Scene

by Rebecca M. Alvin

There are so many reasons to come to Provincetown in the summer. It’s not only because of its beautiful beaches and magnificent light. It’s not only because the culture is open and accepting and the LGBTQ community is so integral to the town. It’s all of those things wrapped up together, but there is also something both profound and joyful about the Friday night gallery strolls in which people from all walks of life go from gallery to gallery looking at art, sharing wine, crudité, and their stories, often meeting new people in the process. The town’s galleries support this free, open, moveable feast because it furthers their mission to keep art alive in Provincetown and to introduce us to the work of those who’ve committed themselves to the creative life.

Each year, we provide a preview of the gallery season. And while we strive to include an array of artists, mediums, and galleries, it can only offer the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you might experience if you are a motivated and curious art lover. This year, we focus on ten ways to enjoy art in Provincetown (including the strolls).

1. The Hopper Show

There are many artists who are deeply connected to Cape Cod, but one of the most prominent is Edward Hopper. It’s crazy to think all these years he’s only really had one show at the Provincetown Art Association & Museum (PAAM) when he and his wife, fellow artist Josephine Hopper, spent nearly 40 years in their house in Truro. Their time has come as PAAM will feature a recently acquired collection of 96 drawings by Edward and 69 drawings and watercolors by Josephine. In addition, they will have on display 22 diaries written between 1933 and 1956, providing valuable insights into the Hoppers and their time here. The exhibition, curated by PAAM Executive Director Christine McCarthy, runs August 25 – October 15 with a free opening reception on Friday, September 8, 8 p.m. and a lecture on the Hoppers given by art historian and Hopper expert Gail Levin on Saturday, September 9, 2 p.m. ($10/Free for PAAM members).

Friendly by Jim Forsberg (PAAM and Julie Heller)

2. Dual Exhibitions

Often when PAAM puts together an exhibition of work by a local artist, other galleries in town that own work by that artist join in by hosting concurrent shows. There are several examples of this in the 2017 season. PAAM’s Jim Forsberg: Motifs in Color and Form exhibition is July 7 – August 27, complemented nicely by a pair of shows at Julie Heller’s two galleries. It begins with Jim Forsberg: The Dance of Space at Julie Heller East, June 23 – July 20, followed by part two of that show July 14 – August 17 at Julie’s original gallery in the center of town, Julie Heller Gallery. While the PAAM show includes work from the mid-1940s until Forsberg’s death in 1991, it is primarily focused on canvas paintings from 1980 – 1991. The shows at Julie Heller’s galleries span a much larger range of time, from 1947 – 1990.

Likewise, Berta Walker Gallery will connect with PAAM on their big Bud Hopkins show. PAAM’s Bud Hopkins: Full Circle exhibition, curated by his daughter, artist Grace Hopkins, will be on view July 21 – September 3, with an opening reception Friday, July 21, 8 p.m., while his work will also be featured at Berta Walker Gallery July 28 – August 19, extending the amount of Hopkins’ work available to see. Grace will lead a gallery conversation about her father’s life and work on Tuesday, August 15, 6 p.m. at PAAM ($10/free for PAAM members).

Late in the season, PAAM hosts a retrospective of Mark Adams, an artist who has been with the Schoolhouse Gallery since its beginning. The PAAM show runs September 29 – November 12 and features drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, media, and data. There will be an opening reception Friday, September 29, 8 p.m., and a gallery talk with Adams and the curators of his show, fellow artists Breon Dunigan and Joe Fiorello on Tuesday, October 3, 6 p.m. ($10/Free for PAAM members). The Schoolhouse Gallery, which partners with PAAM for that show, is currently exhibiting new prints by Adams through June 28 as a preview to the later PAAM show.

3. FAWC Summer Awards

Every year the Fine Arts Work Center (FAWC) honors those who have contributed to the arts through writing, art, and arts philanthropy with their Summer Awards Celebration. This year, the honorees include playwright Paula Vogel, television director/producer Ryan Murphy, and painter Paul Resika, a living legend of the Provincetown art colony. Resika will not only be honored at the dinner and gala on Friday, July7, 6 p.m., but his recent work will also be on view in an exhibition at FAWC.

4. New Kids on the Block

As vital as the history of the art colony is, Provincetown continues that legacy with a mix of old and new. This season a few new galleries have popped up in town, and a number of new artists will have shows, as well. On Bradford Street, just past Town Hall, there is the Cusp Gallery, owned by photographer Curtis Speer, who has taken a chance on becoming a gallery owner in Provincetown, fresh from a vey different life in Orange County. Speer plans to show work by other artists as well, but to begin with, he has a show of his own work entitled American Conscience, which takes as its theme Speer’s “impression of U.S.A. Inc. based on the Act of 1871.”

There’s also been a change over at 444 Commercial Street, which had been the location of Gallery Voyeur for many years. After a transitional year last year, the gallery is now fully devoted to pop-up shows featuring individual artists with a range of backgrounds and styles. Re-named Gallery 444, this will be a space to watch to see new work and new faces in town.

There are many new artists in town, but we can highlight two here. One of the town’s top galleries, Kobalt Gallery, features a roster of artists with diverse approaches to their work. This year, the gallery brings us an artist new to Provincetown, Jessica Pisano. Her paintings have a multidimensional quality to them with their abstract backgrounds, and crisp, detailed images of birds in the foreground. The work brings together the emotions evoked by the abstraction with the concrete realism of the bird to stimulate an interesting, complex response as each approach appeals to a different part of the brain. These provocative works will be featured in Nature’s Allure June 30 – July 6, with an opening reception Friday, June 30, 7 – 9 p.m.

Over on the west end of town, Jo Hay Open Studio often features artists who have not shown anywhere alongside veterans of the gallery scene. This year’s discovery is O’Neil Scott, a self-taught artist from Philadelphia who has created provocative paintings that speak to the political climate today. His work will be featured in Reasonable Doubt, a solo show this September 1 – 10.

Resting Fleet by Brenda Silva (Cortile Gallery)

5. Whitney Alum

As important as Provincetown has been for American artists, galleries in town do not only showcase local artists. The relationship between New York and Provincetown is well-defined and has existed for over 100 years. This season, two galleries in town feature artists who participated in the prestigious Whitney Biennial exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Dani Leventhal’s work is currently on view at Gaa Gallery in the east end of town. Leventhal’s experimental video work was included in the Whitney show, which just closed June 11. At Gaa, it is her mixed media series Pine Forest that is on exhibit through July 10. The work incorporates found objects and images with a variety of media assembled and painted onto paper or panel. Leventhal will give a talk about her work on Friday, June 30, 6 – 9 p.m.

The Albert Merola Gallery also features work by a veteran of the Whitney Biennial, Lyle Ashton Harris. At this year’s biennial, Harris’ work, which includes photography, film, and video, was a major component, including slides from his Ektachrome Archives project, with images dating from 1986 – 1998 and addressing LGBTQ and African-American issues and identities. Harris will have a solo show at Albert Merola August 4 – 7, featuring his photography, with a reception on Friday, August 4, 8 – 10 p.m.

6. The East End Stroll

First-time visitors are always struck by the amazing throngs of art lovers making their way east from the center of town each and every Friday night from June through September. Other towns have art gallery strolls, of course, but in Provincetown there is a wonderful, festive atmosphere and a devoted audience eager to see what the galleries have in store for them each week. The galleries already mentioned all participate in this tradition on a weekly or biweekly basis, but here are some additional suggestions.

Coming from the center of town, you might first stop at Bakker Gallery, which specializes in paintings and prints from the first 100 years of the Provincetown art colony. They have a wonderful show of work by the late Arthur Cohen coming up June 30 – July 23, with a reception Friday, June 30, 6 – 8 p.m. The show features newly acquired work from Cohen’s estate with his characteristic subject matter. Next you will want to stop in Bowersock Gallery, just past the Johnson Street parking lot. An eclectic selection of contemporary works here ranges in style, medium, and geographic location of the artist. Owner  and former U.S. Marine Steve Bowersock, himself an intriguing artist who paints striking images inspired by surrealism, has curated a space that truly offers something for everyone. He frequently offers thematic group shows, as well as featuring artists in interesting pairings. And just across the street and a little further down is Woodman/Shimko Gallery, which will host a show of Joey Mars’ work July 28 – August 10, and the return of original Tom of Finland drawings during Bear Week, July 14 – 27. Farther east on the bay side, you’ll find Larkin Gallery and Alden Gallery, which are also good places to find inspired art, painting in particular.

In the area around Kiley Court, there is a cluster of galleries on both sides of the street, each one offering an entirely different vision. Traveling along this route on your right you will find Simie Maryles, Oils by the Sea/Roccapriore, William-Scott, Kiley Court, and Karilon galleries. Although these artistic neighbors differ in many respects, they all showcase new paintings, in some cases created by their artist owners. William-Scott is best known for carrying the work of artist John Dowd and hosting his highly anticipated annual Labor Day weekend show, which features his latest work, but it also offers an excellent array of new work by other artists, such as Chet Jones, who will be featured August 19 – 30 this year.

Across the street, another eclectic gallery, Rice/Polak offers work by a roster of artists primarily working in painting, drawing, and photography. Exhibitions usually run a bit longer here, giving ample time to revisit the work. Of particular note this season are photographer Susan Mikula and collagist Deb Goldstein, both of whom will be showing along with other gallery artists July 27 – August 16. Then we have Ray Wiggs, Hutson, and AMP (Art Market Provincetown), three entirely different galleries, the latter of which has established itself as a place where boundaries are pushed and work includes more photographers than most galleries in town, as well as conceptual art installations, film and video work, and performances on a fairly regular basis from June through October. The Hutson Gallery, which is next door and downstairs offers a roster of painters, sculptors, and printmakers. Traveling to the end of the Commercial Street stroll, you’ll find Schoolhouse Gallery, another edgy gallery that features photography from Amy Arbus, Kahn/Selesnick, David Hilliard, and others, as well as contemporary art in a variety of media, always pushing boundaries and inviting discussion. This year is their 20th anniversary.

Come back, take a chance on me by Deb Goldstein (Rice/Polak Gallery)

7. The Wild West

For a while the galleries on the west end of Commercial Street had their own tradition of Saturday evening openings. For the most part, this has changed over the years, giving you another route to travel on Friday nights. While there are fewer galleries on this side of town, the quality of the work is no less, nor is the range. Fairly close to the center of town is Julie Heller Gallery, located on the beach at Gosnold Street. Heller (who also has a gallery on the east end) is a shrewd collector of Provincetown art and offers visitors a unique floor-to-ceiling experience of massive amounts of art—primarily paintings—for the serious art collector.

A little further west and on the opposite side of the street, you’ll find Cortile Gallery, which had traditionally put up diverse, large group shows, culminating in their Annual Art Tour of American Invitational (September 1 – 14 this year). This year, the schedule features a number of “artistic pairings,”  highlighting artists from their regular roster with artists from all over the country who have participated in past editions of the Invitational. For example, Provincetown’s own Brenda Silva is paired with Tamara Gonda in a show called Surroundings (June 23 – 29). 

Continuing west, Jo Hay Studio offers new paintings by diverse, often politically engaged artists alongside the exceptional work of Hay herself, whose large-scale images often foster questions about gender and identity. And just beyond that, across from the Boatslip, you’ll find G-1 Gary Marotta Fine Art, where again the owner’s tastes are quite unique. As in years past, Marotta is currently showing photographs of Marilyn Monroe by Milton H. Greene, as well as super-8 film of her, through June 29. In a very different vein, he’ll feature Cara DeAngelis’ intriguing portraits featuring roadkill in unusually traditional portrait settings, June 30 – July 20. And finally, end your tour of the wild west with Adam Peck Gallery, which just moved to a larger space at 142 Commercial Street. They continue to exhibit works by Sian Robertson, Robert Goldstrom, and Kathy Cotter, each of whom have shows this season, as well as what they’re calling “Little Shows” of artists new to the gallery: Juan Carlos Castañeda  (sculpture)  July 8 – 11; Maureen Mccarron (paintings) July 12 – 18; and Keith MacLelland  (mixed media collage) July 19 – 25.

Bill Evaul at Evaul Studio & Gallery

8. Artist Studios

One of the advantages of being in an artists’ colony is the ability to see artists actually creating new work. In the summer, it’s not uncommon to see artists painting en plein air along Route 6 or on the town beach, or on Bradford Street, for example. But there are also a number of artist studios/galleries in town where you can look at work by an artist who is actually there in front of you, perhaps even working on a new piece before your very eyes. In the Whalers Wharf mall, there are numerous such studios. Some offer set hours and even have Friday night receptions (such as Frederick Studio featuring the work of James Frederick), while others are open by chance or appointment only. Most are located on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the mall.

In addition, there are artist shacks along MacMillian Pier with a rotating roster of working artists you can meet, chat with, and buy some art from. Artists range from craftspeople to painters to photographers and more. On Commercial Street, a number of well-known artists have set up shop, including the white line printmaker extraordinaire Bill Evaul, painter TJ Walton, and the renowned family of Provincetown artists, the Packards, who now have two gallery spaces in the east end of town featuring the work of Anne Packard (granddaughter of Max Bohm) and her daughters, Cynthia and Leslie.

9. Art Classes

Looking at all of the creative work in these galleries and talking with artists and collectors on Friday nights might inspire you to try your hand at creating your own work. Or, perhaps you are already an artist and want to take your work further or develop new tools to express yourself. Luckily, there are a whole lot of options when it comes to art education in Provincetown and nearby Truro. Your first stop might be the two biggies: PAAM and FAWC. Summer registration is ongoing for these two institutions and the offerings are rich, with many classes taught by artists whose work you may see hanging on gallery walls in town. FAWC, also known for fostering literary talent, also offers writing courses taught by renowned writers. Provincetown has a long tradition of educating artists, as well as inspiring them, and the Cape Cod School of Art is a vital part of that tradition. Originally founded by Charles Hawthorne in 1898, the school, albeit in a different location and with a different setup, continues to offer workshops, particularly for painters. Visit for location and information. Farther afield in Truro, Castle Hill Center for the Arts also offers a wide range of classes, from fine art like painting and sculpture to photography, ceramics, and classes for kids, as well.

 10. Art is Where You Find It

You don’t even have to go to a place devoted to art to find sublime artwork in Provincetown. In fact, Napi’s (7 Freeman St.) could almost be considered an art museum in their own right, with significant works by key Provincetown artists not just hanging on their walls, but intrinsic to the atmosphere itself. Many restaurants feature work for sale through collaborations with local galleries, and some, like Spiritus Pizza (190 Commercial St.), hold their own exhibitions.  You’ll also find art exhibitions—complete with opening receptions—in unlikely places such as Seashore Point (100 Alden St.), the Harbor Hotel (698 Commercial St.), and the Anchor Inn (175 Commercial St.). And a number of shops in town that incorporate galleries into their spaces, such as Maison Decor (368 Commercial St.) , featuring the wonderful work of young artist Justine Ives as well as work by more established artists like Carmen Cicero.

All of the addresses of shops, schools, and restaurants in the article are in Provincetown. For the locations and general information about all of the art galleries mentioned, as well as many others in Provincetown, Truro, and Wellfleet, turn to our weekly Stroll Gallery Listings (located this week on page 26). 


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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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