Artist Profile: Edward Walsh
Like waves relentlessly wearing away the sand, Edward Walsh’s journey to becoming a painter was slow and steady. He first visited Provincetown as a child in 1954, when he and his mother took a day trip to the tip of the Cape, traveling on the old ferry from Boston. “Even as a little kid, I knew this place was different and special,” says Walsh. “It’s a magnet; it just draws you in.”
Walsh visited more and more frequently until 1987, when he and his partner purchased a summer home on the Cape. At the time Walsh was living in Boston and teaching history at Brockton High School. After retiring in 2007, he moved to Provincetown permanently, and the art soon followed. “In P-town, art is just an integral part of being a human,” says Walsh. “It’s just there. You can’t walk down the street without being affected by it.” Though he had never drawn or sketched—“I was not even a doodler!”—the culture inspired him to give art a try.
He started by taking a class with artist Franny Golden at Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill. While he took a few more classes from different artists, Walsh is primarily self-taught, which can be a boon or a hindrance, depending on the day. “Sometimes it can be frustrating, and sometimes it can be incredibly beautiful,” he says. “I can break the rules because I don’t know what they are. I know if I was a classically trained artist, there are some visual problems that I probably could solve easier.”
While he paints a wide range of subjects, it is Provincetown’s seascapes and landscapes that bring Walsh the most personal satisfaction. “I have a strong connection to the Cape and to P-town in particular,” he says, “a real sense of place.” Race Point, Provincetown Harbor, Coast Guard Pier—these iconic spots are all fodder for Walsh’s canvas and brush and provide a way for him to ceaselessly explore the play of light and color and water in his acrylic paintings.
“My partner, A.C. Burch, is a writer, and he has a phrase: ‘In Provincetown, we are seduced by light and water,’” says Walsh. “I love using the reflections of that light on water. Sometimes you see almost a blinding light reflected. It affects everything, and everything around it changes. Trying to capture the magic of that blinding light—without it seeming trite—is what I try to do.” – Amanda Wastrom
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