Shore Leave

On the Road in Provincetown

Smack in the middle of the strip, but still East End, the Bang Street Gallery (432 Commercial) is showing Jennifer Ditacchio, the harbormaster's daughter, a local girl via Yale, whose bold striped canvases manage to connect the ab-ex moment to a more savvy postmodern read on landscape. There's a cocky roughness to her blue, white, and mutating gray designs. Each of these hunky minimalist canvases (stripes, stripes, stripes) feels as brutally uncontestable as the weather. The water that slurps and beckons on the other side of Commercial works pretty much the same way, cheerfully or fatally striped, whatever—no amount of thought can override it.

Dianna Matherly's new work at Tristan (148 Commercial) trumpets light and dark and bravery. The show mounted here last fall, "In Honor of Survival," culled a terrific array of new and recognized talents focusing on this theme. Several of those participating artists died this past winter. Now Matherly presents a tributary show of mixed media. Four oil paintings with a similar memorializing intent are funky, allegorical takes on the disordering power of illness.

Sal Randolph is twisting thousands of yellow chenille stems (pipe cleaners) into a cloudlike sculptural form. Her studio upstairs in Schoolhouse boasts a computer named Bruce, reciting her poems and splaying a gorgeous array of cascading wallpaper on its screen. "This will go in a glass case downstairs in September," she says, pointing to the growing yellow mass, "with rope-light snaking through." "Do you think it needs sound?" she wonders.

Man in the mirror: Allen Ginsberg’s 1987 Self Portrait
photo: Allen Ginsberg/courtesy of Schoolhouse Center
Man in the mirror: Allen Ginsberg’s 1987 Self Portrait

"The place is weird," says Jack Pierson. "I was afraid to come here when I was a child. I mean," he adds softly, "that's what we like about it." Pierson is probably the best symbol of the new/old P-town art scene: an artist who makes work that's not so much "about" life as it is about how he imagines it. On September 1, Pierson will exhibit at the Provincetown Art Association (460 Commercial), the longest-standing art space in town, practically a museum, which is currently bursting with "Hans Hofmann: Four Decades in Provincetown." "No fences, nudes, beaches," promises Pierson, referring to practically everyone's proclivity to produce work that flies here. He's planning to install a group of new word sculptures—his own take on Cape Cod's dark past. "Artists almost feel trampled by the beauty here. It's the light," says Jack, laughing.

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