Getting to Provincetown was a long and winding road for John Clayton, but he got there. Today he is firmly ensconced in the Cape-tip artist’s haven, painting and teaching in an atmosphere that feels like home.
Clayton’s first art class was at the YMCA in Brooklyn, where he says he often heard the same cry: “Go to the Art Students League!” So he scooted to New York City, where he studied at both the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design (now the National Academy Museum & School of Fine Arts). At the Art Students League, he started hearing about Provincetown. “So I came here,” Clayton says.
He has been in Provincetown since 1994, painting prolifically and teaching art at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum and the Cape School of Art in Provincetown, and the Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill.
His first stop in Provincetown was the Cape School of Art. “I pretty much moved in,” he says. “The energy was so incredible. Provincetown is better than any college.” Everything about the Outer Cape—the incomparable light, beautiful colors, moody grays, topography, culture, creativity—spark Clayton’s eye and impressionist-style paintings.Cottage Street or Provincetown Beach in all their rich, dancing glory, are vibrant depictions of his favorite town.
In Provincetown, he also found an acceptance of his love for color. “When I was studying at the Art Students League, I would hear, ‘What is this, the fourth of July? Tune down those colors!’” On the Outer Cape, he has no color inhibitions, and he loves the colors that brighter weather brings.
“I’m really drawn to the sunny days,” Clayton says. “It’s part of who I am. I do use yellows, more colors like that. I’m trying to express the light.” He is primarily known for his landscapes and still lifes in oils. “You can do things with (oil) that you can’t do with other mediums,” he says. He also creates prints and etchings.
His philosophy is refreshingly straightforward. “I don’t take myself too seriously,” Clayton says. “I take my art seriously, but not myself.” The most difficult thing, he says, is finding the unadorned in art’s complexities. “I want the paintings to get simpler,” he says, “but it’s so hard to get simple.”
Ken Carson’s oil paintings have a dreamy quality. They seep into the soul and the mind surrenders.
“I’m not about specific places, with grass, buildings, or people,” Carson says. “The painting is about an emotional impact. If it connects with you, you can stay there and enjoy it. If it doesn’t connect, walk away.”
Water and sky, in their shifting shapes, colors, and layers, are central in Carson’s work. “The emotion of the sky interests me, whether it’s set by low light, high light, or clouds,” Carson says. “Nine times out of 10, there is a very low horizon.” Just as he is drawn to early morning or dusk in the skies he paints, Carson is most captured by water at its points of great change, such as the intersection of marshland with open water. “I’m very attracted to salt marshes, how they flow through, as opposed to straight, open ocean,” he says. Seasonal changes provide another vehicle for moving the emotions, such as the warm, ruddy shades of brown and gold in End of Season.
Carson’s ocean-centered art is usually anchored with an object, very often a dinghy that may be rotting and beyond repair. “They always seem to be waiting for something, or ready to go, or retired. That to me conveys the solitude, the peace,” Carson says. “It’s a positive solitude.”
His positive outlook is threaded through his career. Carson taught art for 35 years in the public school system in Bourne. “It was a wonderful ride,” he says. He then began art classes with such luminaries as Sig Purwin, Beverley Edwards, and Claude Croney. A stint as assistant director of the Market Barn Gallery in Falmouth, where jeweler Paulette Loomis taught him the business of art, was especially meaningful. Today, when the Sandwich resident isn’t painting, he is building custom frames at Cape Gallery Framer in Falmouth.
Carson continues to be moved by his subjects, long after the art is finished. He first glimpsed the focus of White Boat near a West Falmouth harbor last year and still likes to check in on the little boat. “It’s tied by a path, waiting for the seasons,” Carson says. “It’s just there. I still drive by it. I walk by it. It’s an ongoing process.”
One of the best things about living on Cape Cod is the diversity of its art world. There are artists of many kinds on the Cape and Islands, and the depth of their talents make it hard to choose who to profile in our arts edition. Some of the people profiled on these pages were suggested to me by friends, co-workers, and other artists. I have met some of them personally at cultural events. I wish that we had endless pages to present more of their work—it is always hard to pick photos reflecting an artist’s talent. Read more…
One of the best things about living on Cape Cod is the diversity of its art world. There are artists of many kinds on the Cape and Islands, and the depth of their talents make it hard to choose who to profile in our arts edition. Some of the people profiled on these pages were suggested to me by friends, co-workers, and other artists. I have met some of them personally at cultural events. I wish that we had endless pages to present more of their work—it is always hard to pick photos reflecting an artist’s talent.
Of course my own personal taste in art influenced the selection of the artists profiled in this edition, as did that of our Contributing Editor Mary Grauerholz, and our Art Director Patty Dysart. We poured over the images sent to us and sometimes disagreed with each other’s choices, but for the most part the paintings, sculpture, fine jewelry, and handiwork on these pages represents a wonderful array of talent encompassing as many styles and mediums as there are creatures in our ocean.
If you are like me, you will look at this issue and long for a Paul Schulenburg or a John Clayton to hang on your wall. Patty Dysart loved the work of Francie Randolph, but after reading Francie’s story, Patty felt that the paintings the Truro artist submitted did not accurately reflect her talents. Patty took the time to contact the artist for more examples of her work. The end result is a profile where the images and the text, written by our talented contributing editor and wordsmith, Mary Grauerholz, come together beautifully.
When it came to choosing the cover for this issue, I asked Patty to design six or seven potential covers to be displayed in Cape Cod Life’s lunch room and asked the staff members (including our Publisher Brian Shortsleeve, who always jokes that he gets at least TWO votes for a cover) for their opinions. We went through several viewings before we chose Jack Goldsmith’s iconic Cape Cod painting of three little girls playing on a bright Cape Cod beach. Something about this painting spoke to everyone.
Whatever your taste, I hope you will be dazzled by this array of art that spans all styles, mediums, and price points, yet is uniquely of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. This issue is its own diverse work of art—just like this ever-surprising coastal world we all love.
With artful best wishes,
Through her art, Hella Bailin revealed some of the best and worst moments of her life. From the worst—her parents were killed in a concentration camp during the Holocaust—to joyful world travels, Bailin created her art as a way to embrace cultures, capture the essential goodness of people, and accept and express her extraordinary sorrow and loss. Read more…
For as long as I can remember, a faded painting of my great great grandfather’s ship, the Niantic, hung in the parlor of our West Tisbury home. It had hung in our island house for 150 years. Every once in a while, we’d dust it or wipe off spider droppings.
In a darkened room, wearing a surgical mask and gloves, Falmouth’s Ian Primrose inspects a subject lying on a table with a portable ultraviolet light. Under the UV fluorescence, he can see blotches.
Primrose is not a doctor, but rather a master of alchemy, mystery, and craftsmanship. He is a professional art restorer and conserv- ator. The UV light reveals paint strokes of an earlier restoration.
Steps away from Provincetown’s Lobster Pot Restaurant, a simple sign comprised of the words “THE WORKSHOP” and a large wooden sandal draws curious visitors away from the commotion of Commercial Street down a quaint alley.
A set of wooden stairs at the alley’s end leads up past a wall covered with morning glory vines to a beautiful view of the ocean and an unassuming workshop with the Rolling Stones playing softly from a back room.
“I’m in what’s known as a destination location,” says Victor Powell, who has been working in this space since 1999. “Once you come past the bikers and the funk in the alley, you reach this oasis up here.”
Victor Powell has been designing and creating high quality leather goods since 1967, and legions of notable buyers from around the world have traveled to The Workshop to have pairs of his famous leather sandals fitted, fashioned, and signed as unique, wearable art pieces.
In 2006, fashion designer Michael Kors commissioned Powell to make all of the footwear for his spring menswear 2006 Collection, which was exhibited at a runway show during New York City’s Fashion Week. Three months later, Vanity Fair pictured Nicole Kidman wearing a pair of Powell’s sandals. Even Cardinal O’Malley of Boston purchased a pair of his sandals a few years ago. Read more…
It’s rare to catch Woods Hole’s Mark Chester without a camera. Over the span of almost 40 years, Chester has learned that it’s often best to shoot first and ask questions later, and that the best photos often come when they’re least expected. Every once in a while, they come in pairs. Read more…