A Guide to the Gallery Season
by Rebecca M. Alvin
In an age where everything seems to come at us from a two-dimensional screen, artists working in three-dimensional formats, such as sculpture, assemblage, and installation, have both a distinct disadvantage and a unique allure. What they make really cannot be experienced online, so it requires an in-person visit to actually see the work.
Sure, this season is chock full of exhibitions featuring the wonderful, ubiquitous paintings that are the foundation of the Provincetown art colony, and there are also opportunities to see other two-dimensional masterpieces in the realm of printmaking, photography, and drawings. There are even time-based arts like film, video, and performance art. But the focus in this year’s gallery season preview is on those works that are looked at from a variety of angles and occupy a three-dimensional space, the unsung artists of the colony.
This weekend, two artists who fit this description are paired in a show at Cortile Gallery that runs through June 25. Timothy Basil Ering and Paul Arsenault both create work meant to be hung on the wall, but which are three-dimensional pieces. These creations offer the interplay of light and shadow as well as the shapes that we get from sculpture, although fixed against a wall. In Ering’s case, the pieces are mostly made of wood panels, painted with acrylics in the form of boats, houses, whale tales submerged in a wave, and other such subjects. Brightly colored and thematically connected to our region, Ering’s work pairs interestingly with Arsenault’s monochromatic pieces made from metal with an emphasis in line, almost like three-dimensional drawings. Made from cold-pressed steel and black patina, these images are truly lovely and intricate.
When you think sculpture, you don’t often think of paper, but that’s just the material Becky Kinder uses. The pieces are intricate designs cut out of paper, most often painted or dyed and mounted to the wall. The patterns are lacy and curvy with a delicate quality, but at the same time, they are bold. Her work will be featured in a show at Albert Merola Gallery August 17 – September 5 along with folded photographs of Jack Pierson and Richard Tinkler’s new paintings.
Another artist who works with paper to create three-dimensional art is Sian Robertson, whose shows will be at the Adam Peck Gallery, August 1 – 7. in town. Robertson is known for taking maps and other paper elements such as postage stamps and cutting them into intricate patterns, weaving them together into books, and otherwise calling attention to our sense of place, roads traveled, and the idea of traveling itself. Her show, What’s Left Behind, features her cut-out, multilayered maps assembled into blocks with Plexiglas panes and other shapes, creating a new format for the work while retaining its themes.
New to the Bowersock Gallery lineup is Neil Grant, a Cape Cod artist who also shows and gives workshops at the Cotuit Center for the Arts. Grant’s work is figurative and portrays human subjects in various ways. His show at Bowersock, August 10 – 29, features the incredible casts that make up Anger Rising, portraying a human head in various stages rising from the ground with a pained expression on his face, suggestive of the title. Also in that exhibition, called Quality Diversified, are narrative painter Christopher Pothier and vibrant oil painter Allen Ammann.
Bowersock also welcomes back bronze sculptor Christopher Gowell, whose realist style evokes classical sculpture. She will participate in a show opening August 31 that also includes artists Julie Beck, Noriko Fox, and six juried emerging artists from the Academy of Realist Art Boston.
Another incredible sculptor who often works in bronze is Gay Malin. Malin’s depictions of facial expressions and human figures are exceptional. In fact, she once worked as a sculptor and conservator for the New York State Museum in Albany, New York, reconstructing missing fossil parts and creating facial reconstructions from excavated human remains. Malin’s newest works from the series Meaning and Meaningless will be on exhibition at Hutson Gallery, June 29 – July 11, in a group show that also features works by painters Gary Zack and Michael Fenton.
At the venerable Berta Walker Gallery there will be a late summer exhibition of constructions by former Fine Arts Work Center Fellow Jim Peters. Peters, who is also a renowned painter, often works with nudes, exploring sexuality and domestic spaces. These constructions, on view August 31 – September 22, also have a sense of the New England places in which they were made. They have a lovely tactile quality that derives from the wood employed and the manner of the paint applied to it. His show runs concurrent with exhibitions of work by painters Joe Diggs, Herman Maril, and Sky Power.
Kobalt Gallery also features constructions with one of their most popular artists, Dave Laro showing his pop art constructions that combine whimsy and nostalgia into wall-mounted constructions that are both playful and evocative. His show Mood Swing is up July 6 – 12. In August, Kobalt offers two different three-dimensional artists. The first, Duncan Johnson, shows his beautiful, patterned assemblages on salvaged wood, August 10 – 16 in Re-Creations. This is followed by a show of work by Joe Landry, whose work has some of the nostalgic quality of Laro’s but with its own unique appeal. Landry’s show, Poetics of Place runs August 17 – 23.
Over at the Schoolhouse Gallery, sculptor Anna Poor, who works with a variety of materials, including everything from bronze to wool, alabaster objects to bas-reliefs, will be featured July 20 – August 8. Also, gallerist Mike Carroll will be doing a pop-up show called 3-D, off-site at Gallery 444, August 8 – 15. That show, co-curated with Victoria Kennedy, features three-dimensional works by Clark Derbes, Breon Dunigan, and Bailey Bob Bailey.
Julie Levesque will bring her latest work to Rice Polak Gallery July 5 – 25. As an installation artist, Levesque often works with white figures made from wood, Plexiglas, or even salt crystals. The absence of color creates an eerie quality to the work. Her latest installation, The Way Out is the Way In, will be on view here. It features childlike figures encrusted in marble dust and white sand and speaks of the divide between restriction and freedom.
Just next door at AMP Gallery, there are a number of shows with sculptural elements included in them throughout the season, but one set of shows offers particularly intriguing possibilities. Martin R. Anderson’s clean, geometric designs will be on display in Refractions & Redemptions, July 27 – August 8, featuring his painted wood constructions. Also exhibited will be Carol Greenwood and Zammy Migdal, two artists with entirely different three-dimensional creations. Greenwood, inspired by her city garden, has created a piece called Untitled (Hanging Green) that will be installed at AMP. It features actual leaves along with wood that hang suspended from the ceiling, thus bringing nature into the gallery space. Migdal, an Israeli artist, brings Levitation, a work that features curvy, organic shapes made from aluminum and polyurethane mounted in vertical patterns on the wall. Right after this show, the always interesting Cindy Sherman Bishop will be featured in a show August 10 – 22 with her Garden of Digital Delights, a set of plaster sculptures that mimic the iconography of the Digital Age. A multimedia artist who has worked with computer coding and digital projects, including work done as a Fellow at the MIT Open Doc Lab, Sherman’s work often reflects the space between online and real life, and the limitations of both.
And finally, at Stewart Clifford Gallery, stone sculptor Karin Stanley is currently featured in a show called Spring Adventures, through June 20. Stanley creates spiral patterns on granite, reminiscent of Celtic symbolism, as well as other simple shapes and images carved into rock and on granite slabs.
All of the galleries mentioned thus far also have incredible exhibitions of two-dimensional art, such as painting, drawing, collage, and photography, which are beyond the scope of this article, and there are also many other sculpture shows. No story about art in Provincetown would be complete without mention of at least a few of the many local painters and photographers with shows coming up.
Local painter Jo Hay always has work up at Jo Hay Open Studio, alongside works by other striking painters such as Tess Barbato and O’Neill Scott. Hay is also the subject of a short documentary She is Juiced, which is showing this weekend in the Provincetown International Film Festival, presenting a great opportunity to learn more about the British-born Provincetown resident.
Shirl Roccapriore has an incredible series of bird paintings as well as her gorgeous nudes at her gallery Oils By the Sea, as well as a selection of figures made by her father, woodcarver Gero Roccapriore. And in that same vicinity of the East End Gallery District, the ever-popular Hopperesque John Dowd presents his work at William Scott Gallery in two separate shows. June 29 – July 4, Dowd will unveil a new series of night paintings in a show titled John Dowd from Los Angeles to Provincetown. He will also show new work done over the summer at the annual Labor Day weekend show, August 31 – September 4. The Gallery also presents a number of other painters with very strong work in exhibitions this season, including a show featuring Kate Ryan and Christopher Sousa (August 3 – 15).
Staying in this same area, Simie Maryles presents a range of wonderful painters, not the least of which is Maryles herself, whose work will be featured in The Color of Emotion July 20 – 26. Then, at Kiley Court Gallery, father and son artists Robert and Julian Cardinal present their work at a joint show, August 17 – 29, demonstrating their distinct painting styles, with the elder Cardinal focused on landscape and moody colors and Julian more intrigued by abstraction. Julian Cardinal will also be featured in an earlier show inspired by vintage fashion photography, July 6 – 18.
And finally, photographer Charlie Hunter has a show right now at Gallery 444 (through June 20) that showcases his stunning ability to capture the light and natural beauty of Cape Cod.
Of course, the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) offers a marvelous, season-long retrospective of renowned abstract expressionist Helen Frankenthaler, who spent a great deal of time here with husband Robert Motherwell (the subject of a major retrospective at PAAM in 2015). Frankenthaler’s show runs July 6 – September 2, and you will read a lot more about that in these pages, as it gets closer.
Remember, we list openings every week in print, as well as several full schedules online, so there will be many opportunities to stroll Commercial Street and find the work that speaks to you. And the incredible work on exhibition in the other towns of the Outer Cape, Wellfleet and Truro, though not included here, are always included in our listings as well. For information on all the galleries of the Outer Cape, including contact information and web addresses, take a look at our gallery guide in every issue of Provincetown Magazine. Opening receptions and ongoing exhibitions are listed separately, also in every issue. All of this can be found in this issue beginning on page 12.
50 Years of the Fine Arts Work Center
Maybe the most important thing about this particular season in the arts community on Cape Cod is the celebration of the Fine Arts Work Center (FAWC)’s 50th anniversary. What began as a small group of artists who came together under the auspices of the Provincetown Art Association in 1964, eventually developed into a center to keep the Provincetown artist colony alive and well in the face of what they saw as the impending challenges of tourism, the economy, soaring housing prices, and a changing identity. Some of those founders include Fritz Bultman, Salvatore and Josephine Del Deo, Stanley Kunitz, Phil Malicoat, Robert Motherwell, Myron Stout, Jack Tworkov, and Hudson D. Walker. Thankfully, as you can see from the gallery season preview article here, fine art is alive and well in Provincetown, 50 years after the Fine Arts Work Center officially formed in 1968.
FAWC grew into an institution that fosters creative development in not only the visual arts, but also in literary arts. Pulitzer Prize winners abound in their alumni, and their teachers have been some of the most notable writers of our time, including Stanley Kunitz and Norman Mailer.
Every year, FAWC celebrates the season with a summer gala event that brings together the arts community to honor those who have shown their deep devotion to the arts either through support of the arts or through actual creative work, or both. Past honorees have included Robert DeNiro, Tony Kushner, Paul Resika, Ryan Murphy, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and Paula Vogel, among others.
This year, FAWC is presenting a Distinguished Achievement in the Arts award to Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, who will be attending the extra special event on Saturday, July 21 at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum. Ai Weiwei is an internationally renowned conceptual artist who spent several months in prison in 2011, prompting worldwide protest and petitions organized by the Guggenheim Foundation and the International Council of Museums. He was released in June of that same year, but unable to travel until July of 2015 as a condition of his release. Ai Weiwei’s work, often in the form of video art, is highly critical of the Chinese government and sheds light on numerous social issues around the world. In addition to the gala, he will also be honored with an exhibition at FAWC entitled Rebar and Case, July 22 – August 30. Weiwei will attend a private opening on Friday, July 20. The public opening reception will be held Sunday, July 22.
In addition to honoring Weiwei, FAWC Founders Salvatore and the late Josephine Del Deo will be honored along with FAWC Trustee and arts patron Alison Ferring, writer Denis Johnson (in memoriam), and FAWC Fellow and distinguished artist/educator Sam Messer.
For full details on the FAWC Sumner Awards Celebration visit fawc.org.