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Review: Salvatore Del Deo

by Rebecca M. Alvin

Entering the Mary Heaton Vorse House, you are always transported back in time to old Provincetown. The authentic creaking floors, narrow doorways, impossibly narrow, steep staircases, and absolutely gorgeous antique wooden furniture set the perfect stage for an art exhibition intrinsically connected to Provincetown’s artistic past.

The work of Salvatore Del Deo offers an exceptionally rich history of the artist colony, extending back to the 1950s and forward to today, with landscapes, narrative paintings, and portraits of notable Provincetowners past and present. Having Del Deo’s work hang in the former home of the late writer and activist Mary Heaton Vorse, a friend of Del Deo’s, creates a kind of conversation you’d miss in a traditional gallery or museum setting. Del Deo’s paintings of fishing vessels, a commemoration of the Patricia Marie (Homage to the Patricia Marie III), fishermen and artists—including himself, and the wharf fire that destroyed the Provincetown Theater in 1998 (Fire at Skarloff’s Wharf) are powerful reminders of Del Deo’s deep connection to this town. His work over the 60 years or more on display is varied in approach as well as in subject. Many impressionist portraits feature dark palettes, while landscapes and fishing boat scenes are often brightly colored and vivid.

The faces and figures are beautifully expressive, creating strong connections even when you don’t know the story of these individuals. But in this show, it’s not about quietly walking around and absorbing it all on your own. Here, viewing the exhibition is combined with a docent tour to clue you into not only the narratives and biographies of the subjects depicted, but also of the house itself.

But this is no mothballed house museum, as Gene Tartaglia of the Provincetown Arts Society and sometimes other guests live in the house, so it is very much alive. Each room has been lovingly restored and interior-designed by Ken Fulk and the exhibition was curated by the director of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum Chris McCarthy and Tartaglia. Part of the curation process, according to McCarthy, who was my guide when I went, involved selecting and hanging work in accordance with architectural and design features that already existed in the space. In this way the artwork is truly integrated into the space and it feels like these works were just there to begin with.

The 93-year-old Del Deo still works and shows at Berta Walker Gallery, who has provided the works for this show.

Salvatore Del Deo’s work is on view at the Mary Heaton Vorse House, 466 Commercial St., Provincetown through August 15, by appointment only. To reserve a viewing between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, e-mail [email protected].

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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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