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70 years of art and community

 Mastering Your Mark Conference

Mastering Your Mark Conference offer hands-on demonstrations.

Now open year-round, seven days a week, Cape Cod Art Center offers classes and workshops, major exhibits, special events and annual community events like Art in the Village, held the third week of June in Barnstable. One relatively recent development is the center’s photography program, launched by Miller, a photographer herself. She says it has been very well received and has become a magnet for local shutterbugs.

Fine art photographer John Tunney has been part of the organization for more than 10 years. “When I first got involved, I think they had just started accepting fine art photography as a juried entry in exhibits,” he recalls. “Then the Camera Club started, and it just took off.” The Cape Cod Art Center Camera Club has about 100 members and meets twice a month.

Tunney says the Cape Cod Art Center is more known now than it was in the past. “For years it was sort of a quiet little affair. Now it has been taking a more high-profile role,” he says. The center is an important part of the community, and especially important to artists, he says. “It really gives people an outlet to start and grow their artistic lives. Particularly on the photography side, there’s nothing else like it on the Cape.”

Having served on the board, including a year as president and several years as chairman of the Photography Center, Tunney still teaches at the Cape Cod Art Center. He notes the center offers a great variety of classes, in terms of both medium and skill level. “There’s a lot to choose from,” he says, noting the photography courses alone at the center cover “everything from basics to software and digital darkroom.”

Miller, who was president of the organization before taking over as director a decade ago, says the Cape Cod Art Center has grown a lot over recent decades. “There were about 200 to 300 members when this building opened,” she says. “Now we have close to 1,000 members. I’m proud of that. I think it’s an important home for a lot of artists.”

Members have included a number of well-known artists, including Vernon Coleman, best known for his murals. “We really made a difference to some of these artists who went on to stellar careers,” Miller says. Well-known contemporary artists involved with the Cape Cod Art Center include Karol Wyckoff, Robert Douglas Hunter and Marieluise Hutchinson.

Hutchinson joined the Cape Cod Art Association in the 1970s, and she appreciates the way it brings artists together. “It’s always fun to be with other artists and see what people are doing,” she says. Hutchinson, who lives in Yarmouth Port, notes there were no other artist organizations in the Mid Cape area 35 or 40 years ago. “Other things sprang up later, like the Yarmouth Art Guild, the Cultural Center of Cape Cod and the Cape Cod Museum of Art,” she says. “But the Cape Cod Art Center was certainly one of the first.”

Back when Hutchinson first joined, “I wasn’t really an established artist,” she says, and showing at the center helped grow her career. She is now represented by a number of galleries, both on Cape and off. She is still involved with the organization, and one of her oil paintings won first prize in a recent show there.

Hutchinson is one of many artists who will be featured in the center’s upcoming anniversary exhibit. The invitational “One Building, Many Artists” retrospective will showcase the work of artists who have been involved with the organization through its history. Miller is especially excited about this exhibit, which will be on display June 18 through July 15 and will have an official opening on June 22. “I think it will be a terrific example of art through the ages,” she says.

Other anniversary events include ongoing history exhibits, an online monthly photography show and a lecture series. On July 7, the center will throw a “Birthday Bash,” and the community is invited. The center is also publishing a book about its history. Hutchinson says Cape Cod Art Center is clearly thriving. “There are a lot of new people involved, a lot of new ideas, and I can see a lot of excitement there.”

Happy birthday, Cape Cod Art Center! Here’s to the next 70 years of nurturing and supporting art on Cape Cod.

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