My fascination with Provincetown harbor has led me to observe the dramatic tidal changes that the shore experiences. Since many of the town’s residences live with close proximity to the beach, it’s of particular concern in the age of climate change and more powerful storms. These luxury residences and wharfs hosting cottages and second homes, are propped up by structures that both defy Mother Nature and bait it at the same time. I chose low tide to underscore their precarious arc over an increasing problem with the hope that they survive but also with the idea recording them for posterity if they should fall to our lack of action and an increasingly exponential threat. Their beauty aside it’s both a testament to engineering and a visible hubris of days past.
My second season at Alden Gallery has been solid and my wharf series nearly sold out. I’ve been thinking I might want a new subject to study but on this very atmospheric weekend in Provincetown (a very tired hurricane José is falling apart) I wanted to try and capture its mood. I realized I’m not quite done exploring this iconic and central structure in Provincetown as it continually changes palette through seasons and storms. Now if I could only paint the scent of the ocean I’d be legend.
A collector friend of mine saw my show up this past summer and gave me a book on Edwin Dickinson. This prolific and outstanding artist is very much responsible for helping to establish Provincetown as an art colony as well as contribute significantly the founding of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) which serves as an epicenter of art scene here in Provincetown today. I’m still learning the rich history of the painters, writers, and poets that have walked these streets for well over a hundred years. Reading about Dickinson underscores how humbling it is to paint here. The sheer amount of talented artists, both living and passed, serves as an inspiration that is ever harder to find in any given city/town due to priced out gentrification and over commercializing once gritty and edgy artist enclaves (I’m looking at you Lower East Side). As fall takes over New England, many will come to work on the “off-season” towards their next seasons and towards self imposed deadlines in a much quieter town devoid of many of the wonderful, if not overly attended, distractions of summer. It is the near solitude that allows dedicated focus towards a new body of work and although a tad lonely in the dark of winter is fueled by the endless supply of artist community that remains here after the ferry stops bringing in tourists daily. Although artists are still everywhere and continue to work despite a Starbucks on the corner of their neighborhood, I’m always relived and grateful to know that a place like P’town has resisted such corporate trappings by enlarge and you can still literally throw a rock and hit a fellow creative on any given day. Maybe not a rock… let’s go with wig or a feathered boa. Provincetown’s gotta be Provincetown.
I’ve always loved walking the dog on the town beach in Provincetown. From where I live in the East end, it affords a full view of MacMillan Wharf where the ferry from Boston docks. It’s no secret the light and air play a big part of artist inspiration here at the end of the Cape. Hawthorne, Hensche, Hofmann, Hopper and hordes and scads of artists and writers have interpreted this environment through their disciplines. It has also inspired me to do a study of the wharf as a series since I find the shapes of the outbuildings, boats, posts, masts, lines and rigging to be fascinating and somewhat abstract. My palette so far is derived from a morning fog that hazy overcast that comes just after dawn many mornings in spring. I look to capture the salt of the air more than the true rendering of a sloop.
Robert Morgan and Sean McCabe
Opening reception: Friday, August 19, 7–9 p.m.
Alden Gallery | 423 Commercial Street, Provincetown