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The Return of the Stroll

The 2021 Gallery Season

by Rebecca M. Alvin

Top Image: “And the Rain Soaked the City” by Simie Maryles (Detail)

It’s 2021. And as we all breathe a collective sigh of relief, albeit a tentative one, we’re ready to embrace again that unique Provincetown experience: the Friday night gallery stroll. To be sure it was missed in 2020, even as we all understood why the great procession up and down Commercial Street with dozens of gallery stops along the way had to be paused for the greater good. And even this year, there is still an evolving sense of how galleries can best participate in the weekly stroll, inviting us all back in to enjoy art and socialize with artists and neighbors and gallerists with just the right amount of caution balanced by just the right amount of optimism. This year’s stroll is just as captivating as any other year, though, with artists presenting work in a wide range of media, in a wide range of approaches, with a wide range of experience levels.

Certainly, art is a subjective experience and we can’t list every exhibition that will be on view this season, but what follows is a summary of highlights you might want to mark on your calendar as, before you know it, the season will be passed, and you don’t want to miss these Provincetown gallery shows.

Landscape, 1935 by Hans Hofmann showing at PAAM

The Cape’s preeminent art museum, the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) can always be counted upon to bring us a remarkable set of exhibitions, many of which stay up for a month or longer, allowing plenty of time for everyone to see these extraordinary shows and even to revisit them again and again. This year they have back to back to back shows, each one featuring different aspects of Provincetown’s artistic sensibilities. Opening June 25 is a Hawthorne, Hofmann, And Hopper—Preserving A Legacy, an exhibition curated by PAAM director Christine McCarthy that features three important Provincetown artists: Charles Hawthorne, Hans Hofmann, and Edward Hopper. The exhibition will continue through August 29, running simultaneously with Leo Manso: Collages and Other Works, which opens July 2 and runs all the way until October 17, and Francis Olschafskie’s photography show The Silent Side of a Shiver, opening July 23 and running through September 23. Unlike in years past, this year PAAM will not be open Friday nights, however, so the shows will need to be seen during regular Museum hours with regular admission.

Just a bit farther east, the Schoolhouse Gallery always has an impressive assortment of artists in various media exhibiting in group and solo shows. This year’s schedule features many gallery artists with new work as well as some new additions to their roster: Elise Ansel, Sarah Hinckley, Antonia DaSilva, and Han Feng. Of particular note is a show August 13 – September 1 featuring two of these artists, Ansel and Feng, along with Anne Beresford and the duo Kahn & Selesnick. While Ansel’s work is notable for its abstract bursts of color, Feng’s photography brings attention to the details of ordinary natural materials such as fruits and vegetables, Beresford creates intriguing images through a paper plate lithography process, and Kahn & Selesnick continue to work with otherworldly narrative photography, adding an element of the surreal.

Fishing Boats by Donald Beal showing at Berta Walker Gallery

Over on Bradford Street, just around the corner from the Schoolhouse, the venerable Berta Walker Gallery features its powerhouse roster of artists in six different group shows this summer. Opening this weekend June 24 – July 17 is a set of three shows. Don Beal will have a solo show of his mixed-media lithographs, Rob Du Toit exhibits his charcoal drawings, and then there is a group show called TRIO: Poetry, Photography, Geometry, featuring the work of the late Budd Hopkins, his daughter abstract photographer Grace Hopkins, and new to the gallery, artist Gerald Mercure. Later in the season, Berta Walker gives us some exceptional shows with Cynthia Packard’s recent paintings in Evolutions of Mood, the brilliant late artist Varujan Boghosian’s collages and constructions, and a collage show of work by Boghosian and Paul Resika. All three of those run July 24 – August 14.

Scultpure No. 9 by Rick Wrigley showing at AMP Gallery

There’s a lot going on in the cluster of galleries around Kiley Court and Commercial Street. AMP Gallery continues its tradition of bringing in edgy work in a variety of mediums throughout the summer and well into the fall. August 13 – September 15 a retrospective of the work of Forrest Williams shares the space with sculptor Rick Wrigley’s abstract, large-scale pieces that are always thought-provoking. Williams explores loneliness within relationships and connections within isolation, always inviting us to explore where our separateness ends as individuals living among other individuals.

Next door at Rice/Polak Gallery, with two floors of exhibition space, there are always numerous artists to connect with in large group shows. July 22 – August 4 the gallery features work by Deb Goldstein and Willie Little, along with Christie Scheele and Susan Mikula. Little’s abstract paintings on wood and mixed-media assemblages reflect upon his experiences in the rural South, evoking a strong sense of place. Goldstein is also an interesting assemblage artist and collagist whose work connects with history and, in particular, notions of femininity.

Across the street at William Scott Gallery, the well regarded John Dowd’s work is always featured in a couple of shows each year, one at the beginning of the season (opening this weekend actually, June 25 – July 7), and one opening Labor Day weekend, September 3 – 16. But Tim Saternow’s moody cityscapes are now also represented here, with a solo show July 9 – 21, as well as nostalgic images from Deborah Martin, August 6 – 18, and Daphne Confar, June 25 – July 7.

And the Rain Soaked the City by Simie Maryles showing at Simie Maryles Gallery

At Simie Maryles Gallery,  artist/owner Maryles always has on display her own beautiful paintings bringing her rich color palette to cityscapes, landscapes, and still lifes. Along with a full roster of artists, primarily painters, the gallery also features work by Belgian artist Lorena Kloosterboer, whose paintings on wood panel often feature animals—both live and ceramic—in lively compositions. Her work will be featured with Larry Preston’s floral paintings July 23 – 29.

Traveling toward the center of town, Albert Merola Gallery continues to impress with its unique roster of artists. They kick off the season with an exciting group show July 2 – 28 aptly titled Night and Day as the works are diverse and will provide interesting counterpoint to each other. The show features close to 20 different artists with wildly different sensibilities, from the painstaking patterns of Helen Miranda Wilson to Peter Hujar’s black and white street photography, with a lovely image created by John Waters, as well.

Lemon Kissed by Robin Wessman showing at Larkin Gallery

Just down the street, Larkin Gallery has a full slate of shows this season, including one with the popular Kenneth Hawkey, August 13 – September 1. The Robin Wessman show, July 16 – 28, is a standout to mark on your calendar. Her well-crafted paintings differentiate themselves through the impossible arrangements they depict, adding a dash of surrealism to the standard still life genre.

Likewise, Bowersock Gallery is in full swing and also has a wonderful still life show coming up. Insentient Bits and Bobs runs August 6 – 17 and takes the typical flowers and fruits out of the still life image, featuring works that combine less typical inanimate objects in still life form instead. Artists included are painters Julie Beck, Natalie Featherston, Noriko Fox, Sydney Bella Sparrow, and  Brittany Haynes. And in the show just after that, gallerist Steve Bowersock presents a new series of his own paintings alongside Jeanne McCartin’s work, August 20 – 31, which should also be an interesting show.

Kobalt Gallery returns with its roster of unique artists, adding Edie Vonnegut, Kate Ryan, and Denise Stewart-Sanabria to the group. While there are a number of shows to look out for here, Ryan’s solo show  August 6 – 12, Now and Then — Contemporary Realist Oil Paintings offers a light nostalgic collection of images. Though Ryan is new to Kobalt, she previously showed for many years at William Scott Gallery and is certainly no stranger to the Provincetown art scene.

Line Dance (diptych) by Kate Ryan showing at Kobalt Gallery

Bakker Gallery continues its tradition of exhibiting masters of Provincetown art history, but that doesn’t mean it’s the same old same old. In fact this year there will be concomitant shows July 9 – August 8 of works by influential modernist painter Karl Knaths and his equally talented sister-in-law Agnes Weinrich that have never been exhibited publicly before. These newly acquired works came to gallerist Jim Bakker’s from a former neighbor of Knaths and Weinrich, who lived together in Provincetown with Knaths’ wife (Weinrich’s sister) Helen for decades. Knaths, who died in 1971, actually lived here for over 50 years.

Galeria Cubana specializes in artists not from Provincetown but from Cuba. Gallerist Michelle Wojcik always brings in a large selection of work and on occasion is even able to host artists from Cuba here for their openings. Unfortunately, the pandemic still makes it difficult to have artists travel here, but the extraordinary works are on display in several exciting shows this season. July 8 – 19, she’ll be presenting Edel Bordón’s work in an exhibition titled Everyday Loneliness (Soledad Cotidiana), which relates powerfully to the pandemic experience specifically.

Over at Stewart Clifford Gallery, there are numerous artists whose works focus on Provincetown and New England scenes, as well as artists who depart from that milieu, such as Memy Ish-Shalom’s bronze sculptures that evoke relationships between fathers and sons.  His work will be shown in the gallery July 9 – September 1.

High Tide Crossing by James Frederick showing at Frederick Studio

Although the official gallery district is in the east end of Commercial Street, many interesting galleries exist west of Town Hall. In Whaler’s Wharf mall, long a haven for artist-run galleries, there are several such spaces offering opportunities to look at work by artists who are right there in the gallery with you most days. For example, at James Frederick’s Frederick Studio the artist presents his work in a variety of media, all featuring content strongly linked to Provincetown. Frederick holds shows, mostly of his colorful paintings of our environment, throughout the season. He is also prolific in creating his LGBTQ-themed comics, coloring books featuring local scenes, and his drawings on wood panels.

Also in the mall is Studio Lacombe, featuring works by artist/owner Gaston Lacombe who uses the space as both a studio and exhibition space. Lacombe came to fine art from a career in commercial photography and his work often incorporates photographic images with bright, bold painting and drawing that create unique images. He’ll have a new show of his work July 9 – August 5 called Fragments, which addresses the idea of repressed memories. He will also bring to the studio an exhibition of whimsical work by local artist Benjamin Weinryb Grohsgal in his very first show, August 6 – 13.

Greg Salvatori’s gallery is on the first floor of the mall and features his fine art photography, however, this season Salvatori will surprise us with a full show of his paintings for the first time, in Towers of Hope, August 13 – 31, The work is inspired by the Pilgrim Monument as a symbol for the French-Italian artist, and represents a new direction for the gallery and a new dimension of Salvatori’s artistry for us to witness.

Moving farther west and over to Bradford Street, there is the multipurpose Provincetown Commons, which hosts, among other things, art exhibitions. One exciting show coming to the Commons this summer is Barbara Cohen’s new exhibition, featuring paintings, drawings, and sculptures inspired by fresh produce. The images will be shown in Barbara’s Farm Stand at the Commons July 1 – 29.

Back on Commercial Street, just across from the Boatslip, you’ll find Gary Marotta Fine Art G-1 Gallery, which has a strong background in representing both painters and photographers. This year the Gallery features a compelling show of new works by Puerto Rican photographer Ruben Natal San-Miguel called American Beauty, July 2 – August 6. The images featuring people of different ethnicities and with various visual qualities that seem to preclude them from the standards of beauty in America today, simultaneously ask us what beauty is and how so-called beauty standards do and do not affect our own sense of personal beauty. While many of the individuals portrayed may not match those nebulous American beauty standards, the sense from these photographs is that it has little bearing on how they see themselves. And there is extraordinary beauty in that itself. It’s an exciting collection to have in town.

It’s as eclectic an art season as ever in Provincetown this year. And while the raucous Friday night strolls in the east end may not be quite back to normal levels, an informal survey of galleries revealed many will be holding receptions on Friday nights, some including wine while others forego that tradition, but still offering the opportunity to explore new exhibitions, often with the artists present to discuss their work in an informal setting. While there are other towns that have the occasional art stroll, or a monthly night of exhibition openings and parties, Provincetown’s strong commitment to the tradition of celebrating art and artists in a down-to-Earth, man-on-the-street level, on a weekly basis is really an especially beautiful aspect of our art scene. Friday nights are not just for those who “know about art,” because everyone knows about art, even if they are not experts or collectors. If you haven’t done the stroll in a while— or ever— now’s the time to dip your toe in as we not only open up our doors again but also our minds. Who couldn’t use some fresh perspectives on life right now?

Each week, Provincetown Magazine publishes listings of art exhibitions and opening receptions in The Stroll section. Most Friday night openings are at 7 p.m., with some earlier and some later, so be sure to pick up a copy of the Magazine to map out your route.

Highlights Guide

Galleries and Exhibition Spaces Mentioned

Albert Merola Gallery • 424 Commercial St. 508.487.4424.

AMP Gallery • 432 Commercial St. 646.298.9258.

Bakker Gallery • 359 Commercial St. 508.413.9758.

Berta Walker Gallery • 208 Bradford St. 508.487.6411.

Bowersock Gallery • 373 Commercial St. 508.487.4994.

Frederick Studio • Whaler’s Wharf, 237 Commercial St. 508.247.7900.

Galeria Cubana • 357 Commercial St. 508.487.2822.

Gary Marotta Fine Art G-1 Gallery • 162 Commercial St.

Greg Salvatori Gallery • Whaler’s Wharf, 237 Commercial St., 1st Fl.

Kobalt Gallery • 366 Commercial St. 617.893.0110.

Larkin Gallery • 405 Commercial St. 508.487.6111.

Provincetown Art Association and Museum • 460 Commercial St. 508.487.1750.

Provincetown Commons • 46 Bradford St. 508.257.1748.

Rice/Polak Gallery • 430 Commercial St. 508.487.1052.

Schoolhouse Gallery • 494 Commercial St. 508.487.4800.

Simie Maryles Gallery • 435 Commercial St. 508.487.7878.

Stewart Clifford Gallery • 338 Commercial St. 508.487.0451.

Studio Lacombe • Whaler’s Wharf, 237 Commercial St. 202.460.6826.

William Scott Gallery • 439 Commercial St. 508.487.4040.

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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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