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Darkness and Light Eye to Eye

Top Photo: Daniel Bodner

by Rebecca M. Alvin

When you hear the name André Gregory, chances are the first thing that comes into your mind is My Dinner with André, the ground-breaking 1981 film by Louis Malle that starred Gregory and playwright/actor Wallace Shawn. You might also remember him in his stunning portrayal of John the Baptist in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, or in numerous other film roles. But if you know your theater history, you’ll know him as the brilliant avant-garde director who came to attention in the emerging New York off-Broadway scene of the late 1960s and directed unique productions of Alice in Wonderland, and later, Endgame, Uncle Vanya (an ongoing workshop featured in the film Vanya on 42nd Street), and Grasses of a Thousand Colors, among other works. But Gregory, who lives with his wife, filmmaker Cindy Kleine, in Truro in the summer, has been painting and drawing for the past 15 years or so, exploring an art form that is for him, a far cry from the intensity of theatrical productions, especially given his work methods, which involved years of rehearsals and a deep, psychological probing of character.

Things That Go Bump in the Night (2018, Acrylic on paper) by André Gregory

“My goal is to have fun. And my goal is to forget the world briefly,” explains Gregory when asked about his relatively recent forays into visual art. “Part of what’s been so great about painting… is that of course when I started in the theater, there was always this thing of wanting people to love it, not to be loved in a commercial sense, but you know you just want people to like it, or when you’re younger, you want critics to like it and when you’re even younger you want to one day be Stanislavski. I know I’ll never be Matisse, and there’s something very relaxing about doing it for absolutely no reason other than the joy of doing it.”

Likewise, Kleine, who has made two very personal feature documentaries, one about her parents (Phyllis and Harold, 2010) and the other, an extraordinary film about Gregory (Before and After Dinner, 2013), as well as numerous short films, is finding herself drawn to photography and collage. The couple will exhibit together for the first time in a show at the Fine Arts Work Center called Eye to Eye, which they also co-curated, opening this Friday.

A Crack in Everything (2018, 20”x20” photocollage) by Cindy Kleine

“We tried to organize the show so the work speaks to each other,” Kleine explains. Gregory describes the process as “thrilling” and says, “there’s something very special about doing a show together.”

Although Gregory hints he is drawn to oils, he recognizes the difficulty inherent in it and is sticking with acrylics for the most part. Kleine has been using her iPhone for both her short films and her photography, something she admits has a downside in that it is sometimes not taken seriously by gallerists.That being said, she’s sticking with it, not only for the convenience, light weight, and tools it avails her, but also because of the distinct images it offers, which she likens to older film formats like Super 8, which are not as sharp and pristine as the HD digital images that have become dominant.

Night Studio (2017, acrylic on canvas) by André Gregory

Of Gregory’s art, Kleine quotes his first drawing teacher, who called the work “demented realism.” She adds, “It’s playful, it’s very personal, the work he’s been doing is still lifes from personal spaces, like our kitchen, objects he puts together, like [Girogio] Morandi did, only wackier!”

Of Kleine’s work, Gregory says,“I would describe it as stunningly beautiful and apocalyptic, and deeply personal.”
Working with art forms that feel less stressful may seem like a retreat from the artist’s fundamental work of witnessing the world and expressing ideas, emotions, and thoughts about it, a process that is inherently difficult and multilayered. But actually, it is that release of the pressure valve that enables artists to continue to grow and learn and sustain a sense of purpose. To that end, Gregory recalls a conversation with the late Howard Zinn, back when President George W. Bush was re-elected for his second term and the couple were in despair. “His advice was very surprising,” Gregory recalls. “He said, ‘most important, make your art. In times of darkness, art brings light.’”

Desert Bloom (2018, 20”x30” photocollage) by Cindy Kleine

While neither Gregory nor Kleine have projects in the works in their respective fields of theater and film, they are both deep thinkers, always engaged in creativity. Gregory’s memoir is being published by renowned publisher Farar, Straus, Giroux next year, and Kleine says, “I have some new ideas brewing that will be, eventually, a new film, but I can’t say I’m working outside of my psyche.”

The Eye to Eye exhibition will be on view in the Hudson D. Walker Gallery at the Fine Arts Work Center, 24 Pearl St., Provincetown, June 21 through July 7. The artists will attend the free opening reception on Friday, June 21, 6 – 8 p.m. and are also giving a talk on Friday, June 28, 8 p.m. (Tickets $30-$75). For more information call 508.487.9960 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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