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Coming of Age

Photography courtesy of 21 in Truro

Twenty-one creative and artistic women have spent one week together every September for twenty-one years

The natural notions of nostalgia often include a yearning for the things that made memories and left their mark on our psyche. More often than not, they are scraps of memory that seem to be small nuggets, but the power and emotion they spark can be as powerful as a tsunami breaking overhead. That collective of experience, sharing, and comity is at the core of an annual gathering of women who are simplistically classified as artists, and elaborately defined as agents of afflatus. Each year, in September, and since 1999, 21 women, who share their love and challenges of professionally creating art, gather together in Truro, and for one week they become “21 in Truro.”

As they gathered last September, they came full circle, and symmetrically marked not only their number, but also their anniversary as they met for the 21st time. “For the first three years, we were at the cottages at Corn Hill,” reflects Michele Dangelo, an oil painter who creates architectural renditions of structures from the collage of memories she has collected throughout her life. “The Corn Hill cabins were fun and funky and a beautiful view. But after a few years, one of the gals discovered Sladeville just down the hill, which has a series of five or six cabins and then we could each have our own room. Now it has been the week we all look forward to throughout the year.” Dangelo refers to the “gentle environment” of a modest cottage colony perched on the banks of the Pamet River that allows each member to comfortably enjoy their week in a private room, and where the group has met since 2002. Each cottage has a spacious living area, functional kitchens and several bathrooms. In addition, there is a large studio space, grassy areas for socialization and a common deck for group yoga sessions.

The getaway was never intended to be a creative immersion with a goal to make and create art across a variety of mediums; instead, the original focus was more akin to a retreat. “We were young 21 years ago, and we were chasing everything—kids, business, relationships, you name it,” explains Rosalie Nadeau, an accomplished oil painter who has painted, taught and been recognized for her talents across the Northeast for five decades. “We jumped at the idea of a week away. But over the years it really has become whatever each individual needs.” Those needs run the gamut including: indulging in cooking delicious meals to be shared with the group, introspective activities such as reading, journaling and meditation, knitting, and for some just the social charge from getting together with friends. And for those that are inspired, creating their own art or learning from their peers; the surroundings, the relaxation and the lack of pressure to produce invariably culminates in notable work.

The original inspiration for the event shares credit between Mid-Cape artist Christie Velesig, whose marine and landscape art can be found in collections worldwide, and Anne Boucher whose charming West Barnstable gallery is the kind of place one imagines when discovering art that illustrates a quintessential life lived on the Cape and Islands. Velesig explains, “Anne and I had planned to get away and go to Corn Hill. I went to the art store to pick up supplies and ran into another fellow artist. I explained what we were planning, and she asked if she could come along. That night, I called Anne and in fact she had also run into an artist who wanted to join us. So we sat down, and, limited only by the number of beds available in the cottages, we created a list of 19 other professional artists, who also happened to be women, and that is how 21 in Truro was born.” 

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