Judith Stiles | Newcomb Hollow Shops
In her wellfleet studio, Judith Stiles, owner of Newcomb Hollow Shop in Mashpee Commons and Wellfleet, designs and creates ceramics and pearl and sea glass jewelry, inspired by the vivacious colors, effervescent light, and infinite textures all around her. “When you look at the sunset, the layers of changing colors and shades happen very fast and they’re incredibly complex and beautiful. Colors come and go in an instant,” Stiles observes. “The layers at sunset in relation to the sand, water, and sky are fascinating to me.”
Since childhood, working with clay has enchanted Stiles. “I always loved art and fell in love with clay when I was eight,” she says. “I loved the lack of words. I come from a family of journalists and attorneys and I have a great respect for the English language, but working with clay and art has its own multidimensional language.”
Before moving into her great-grandmother’s house in Wellfleet in 2008 Stiles was raising a family and running her business from New York City. “I married a hardcore New Yorker and raised three kids there. For 23 years, I had a wholesale business selling to stores around the country and lived a bohemian lifestyle in SoHo,” says Stiles. “We’d go to the Cape every summer and wound up buying the house my great-grandmother was born in.” That home is just a half-mile from Newcomb Hollow Beach, named after her great-great-grandfather Benjamin Oliver Newcomb, who assisted in rescuing the crew of a sinking ship off Cape Cod in 1851.
Beyond her family’s roots, the one-of-a-kind scenery of the Outer Cape has always been a big pull for Stiles. “The visual environment is wonderful, the light is so extraordinary, and the colors are outstanding. That’s why artists come here,” she says. “It’s changed my work in a good way, I feel more peaceful working here. New York was fast-paced, rush, rush, rush, but it’s not that way on Cape Cod. The beauty is astounding, from the trees and birds, to the beach and bay—everything.”
In addition to creating art and running her shops in, Stiles is a member of the Wellfleet Citizens Economic Committee (WCEC). There are two major challenges being addressed by the committee. The first is to extend the shoulder season so there is more to do after Labor Day and before Memorial Day. With the help of Paul Pilcher, Stiles was able to launch the Wellfleet Blossoms art festival this past April. “It’s been a wonderful success and it drew a lot of people to Wellfleet,” says Stiles. The weekend festivities include art workshops, exhibits, play writing, theatre, poetry, and music.
The second issue being addressed by the WCEC is mentoring young artists to allow them to thrive on the Cape. The aim is to teach young artists how to make what they want, how to price their works, how to sell them, and how to start a home business among other things.
“The way I see it, tech is in and art is out for people under 30,” says Stiles. “The arts are the soul of our culture. Imagine if you took out art and just left in texting and e-mails? We’d be a sad culture.” Thanks to the efforts of Stiles and others, numerous young artists from the Cape have been sent to the North Bennett Street School in Boston on full scholarship in the hope they’ll return to Wellfleet to help perpetuate the artist culture there.
Young artists seeking that first wave of inspiration or older folks looking to relocate or retire and rekindle that lost spark are encouraged to see what the Cape has to offer. “I totally recommend coming to Cape Cod,” says Stiles. “Until you experience the colors, light, and textures here, you have no idea how exciting it is. You just don’t get that in New York.”