Critical Mass., Part 2: On Cape Cod

The sign at Julie Heller Gallery; photo by Corina S. Alvarezdelugo

I just spent a couple of weeks in Provincetown to prepare for and direct the International Encaustic Conference, an event I founded and run in co-production with Truro Center for the Arts. As anyone from Massachusetts can tell you, the Cape is a place like no other. And Provincetown is a place like no other on the Cape. Just two and a half hours from Boston (when there's no traffic), P-town is light years away from the hot city, brushed by cool breezes and bathed in pristine light.

In terms of art, it's not New York City or even Boston, but that's precisely the point. Life across the Sagamore Bridge proceeds at its own pace. There is no rat race. But there's a creative community that has existed for over 100 years. There are some very good galleries showing very good art (in all mediums). I'll try to give you  a bit of a reportorial overview. 

Pavel Zoubok delivering the keynote talk at the Ninth International Encaustic Conference on June 6. His topic: Collage, Culture, and the Art World. Zoubok's eponymous New York City gallery is focused on a program that considers the myriad ways collage, assemblage and installation express modern and contemporary ideas

What do we talk about at an Encaustic Conference? There are plenty of demos with and talks on the topic of wax, but at the Saturday Morning Panel, which I moderate every year, it's business. This year's subject: Professional Practices: The Big Picture. This group of artists (who are also professors, curators, gallerists, ethicists, and writers) are all gallery-represented working artists with a collective 200 years of experience. From left: Timothy McDowell, Carol Pelletier, Jane Allen Nodine, Fanne Fernow, Miles Conrad, Wendy Haas, and me. Photo: Corina S. Alvarezdelugo

What do you do when you take over a hotel for the weekend? Have a hotel fair. This installation of prints by David A. Clark was one of the best

Photos above and below by the artist

Art spoken here. At the Provincetown Public Libarary, artists Deborah Kapoor and Molly Geissman showed their collaborative project: collages inspired by the letters of Emily Dickinson. Photo: the Internet

The announcement below. Photo: Corina S. Alvarezdelugo

The unique shape of the collages was inspired by an unfolded envelope. Each work was placed on a wide shelf

Notice the sails? The library was once the town's Heritage Museum . . .

. . . which houses a half-size replica of the fishing schooner, the Rose Dorothea. Library photo. More info here

The Galleries
Any trip to Provincetown must include visits to Schoolhouse Gallery, Julie Heller East, Albert Merola Gallery, Rice Polak, Kobalt, and A Gallery, all on Commercial Street. All but the latter are in the East End gallery district; A Gallery is in the West End, right next door to famed Spiritus Pizza

Panorama of Sang-Froid, the current show at Schoolhouse Gallery, up through June 24, with a few individual images below.  Sang-froid, the very opposite of hot blooded, is synonymous with coolness, or grace under pressure. Click pic to enlarge.
And here's a video tour of the show

Karen Freedman

Mike Carroll

Clark Derbes

Joanne Mattera
Two from my Silk Road series

Milisa Galazzi

Nancy Rubens collages and Jefferson Hayman gelatin and platinum prints

Nancy Rubens

Jefferson Hayman

At the Albert Merola Gallery, Michael Mazur drawings and Pat De Groot Paintings

Pat De Groot
Closer view below 

At Rice Polak Gallery, up now: William Carroll, above; Larry Calkins below. Carroll will be in a group show July 9-29

At Julie Heller East, the exhibition Casting Shadows, curated Deborah Winiarski, is up through June 18. From left Milisa Galazzi (barely visible); Nancy Youdelman on pedestal, Lynette Haggard, Deborah Winiarski, Youdelman, Fanne Fernow, Winiarski on right wall. Photo: Deborah Winiarski

Foreground: Fanne Fernow. Far Wall: Milisa Galazzi. Photo: Corina S. Alvarezdelugo

At Kobalt Gallery, Cherie Mittenthal in Connexions, through June 16. Photo by the artist

The Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) is featuring Robert Motherwell: A Centennial Celebration through July 16, in conjunction with the Fine Arts Workshop. There was no photography allowed, so I pulled this image from the PAAM website

Guess who's hanging with Rothko in the museum's bookstore?

Farther west along Commercial Street, A Gallery hosted an ambitious exhibition, One + One. Owners Adam and Marian Peck invited a number of Conference attendees, past and present, to each invite another artist. 

Adam Peck and Marian Peck
You can see more images from the exhibition on their gallery's Facebook page

From the entrance, a sweeping view of the front gallery
Below, a panorama of the small back gallery peeking back into the front (at right). Click pics to enlarge

Both photos courtesy of the A Gallery

Lovely pairing: Tracey Adams, top, and Laura Moriarty
Photo: Helen Dannelly

Binnie Birstein and Nancy Natale with their work, top and bottom respectively
Photo: Susan Lasch Krevitt

Over to Truro
In the next town over, Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill--Castle Hill for short--features a lively summer schedule of workshops and exhibitions. As co-producer of my Conference, it hosted Minimal/Maximal, a show open to conferees that was juried by Mike Carroll, director of Schoolhouse Gallery. I'm not an advocate of "encaustic shows" but we always choose a theme, and a good juror allows that theme to be fully explored within the selections, a few of which you see below.

 It also hosted The Incisive Line, curated by Debra Claffey, visible if you scroll down.

Partial panorama of Minimal/Maximal. Click to enlarge

Laura Moriarty

Susan Lasch Krevitt
Detail below

Lisa Zukowski 

In a marvelous small show in Gallery 10, an outbuilding on Castle Hill's campus. Debra Claffey curated The Incisvie Line, a four-artist exhibition that lconsidered the linear element within painting. 

Lisa Pressman, far wall; Amy Weil, Debra Claffey

Elizabeth Harris, Amy Weil

On the Castle Hill grounds: a sculpture by Andy Moerlin, who will be teaching at Castle Hill later this month

Note: Most of these exhibitions are no longer up. The Cape's short exhibition seasons means that most shows run for about two weeks. It's always best to check for exhibitions and times


Critical Mass., Part 1: Room 83 Spring

I spend most of my time in Massachusetts during the summer. To feed my art fix I get to the galleries in and around Boston, sometimes farther afield within the state. Critical Mass. is the summer series I started a few years ago to share with you some of what I saw. I reprise it now, and will continue to post intermittently through August.

The inviting storefront entry to Room 83 Spring

We start with Room 83 Spring, a gallery in Watertown, Mass.—a city just west Cambridge—founded by two artists, Ellen Wineberg and Cathleen Daley. Like many artist-run projects, it is a labor of love. Emphasis on labor. Emphasis on love. Wineberg and Daley’s concept for the gallery is, well, let them tell you: “A site for experimentation and process, room hosts a mix of creative disciplines, provocative installations, and engaging exchange. We are artists who wish to foster and celebrate other artists.”

Housed in a single-story commercial building on a residential street, Room 83 Spring (which shares the structure with Drive By Projects next door, another artist-run venue), typically brings together three to five artists in thematic exhibitions. Because Wineberg and Daley are working artists themselves, Room 83 Spring is open only on Thursday (2:00 to 7:00) and on Saturdays (12:00 to 4:00) and by appointment.

Splendor Redux with, from left: Kelley Harwood, Nina Bentley and Kathleen Volp

The current exhibition (up through the end of this week, May 28) is Splendor Redux, a three-artist show that reconsiders the still life with a contemporary sensibility that mashes together feminism, poignancy, irony and humor. Nina Bentley and Kelley Harwood use the metaphor and object of the silver serving set, while Kathleen Volp creates assemblages of cheap overabundance, a contemporary metaphor if ever there was one. It’s a rewarding mix.

Nina Bentley, Corporate Executive Wife's Service Award Bracelet II (Homage to Lorna Wendt), courtesy of the New Britain Museum of American Art

Detail below

In creating the outsize charm bracelet of silver serving vessels, Bentley recalls the story of Lorna Wendt, who, back in the Nineties, was offered 10 percent of the family assets when her husband of 32 years divorced her. Lorna took him to court, arguing that her job in over three decades of marriage was as a partner, the one who  maintained the home, raised the children, and sacrificed her own career aspirations. The judge agreed and she ended up with 50 percent of the assets. And she acquired a version of this sculpture. 

Kelley Harwood, #7, acrylic on board, 2015

Bentley's metaphor of greedy corporate husband finds its moral opposite in Kelley Harwood's touching story of a sterling silver tea set. "The tea set I paint is a 25th anniversary present from my grandfather to my grandmother. Visiting their house once or twice a year as a child, I remember it with a sense of love, well-being, luxury, generosity and visual richness."

Harwood's small, mostly achromatic paintings are reductive but rich with memory and observation.

Kathleen Volp,  White Madonna, 2013, mixed media 

Volp's interest is in Seventeenth-Century Dutch still life-painting, specifically a style called pronkstilleven, still-lifes of ostentation. Mining a rich vein of irony, Volp creates assemblages with the abundance of cheap contemporary culture: shiny fabric and plastic fruit.  From the front room . . .

. . . we head into the back, where more work by Volp is on view

Homage to the Market Girls, 2014-15, oil and assemblage
Detail below

Homage to Utrecht's Still Life with Cockatoo: Trickle Down, 2015, assemblage with stacked tables and faux fruit

Artist-created and -run galleries are not huge commercial enterprises. When one springs up in your area, take the time to go. Encourage others to go. Support it. It took me a while to get to Room 83 Spring. I promise I'll be back.