Photographer Julie Tremblay never dreamed she’d own a successful gallery in Provincetown right in the middle of Commercial Street.
After earning a passel of fine art degrees from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, Rhode Island School of Design, Boston University, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, then cutting her teeth as a photographer in the corporate world, all it took to establish herself as an artist was to get laid off from her corporate job. She then moved to Provincetown, staying with friends, and began exhibiting her work in one of the 10-by-10-feet Trap Sheds on MacMillan Pier in 2009. Within 10 minutes of opening on her first day, she sold her signature piece. She and her business partner, Gail Wickstrom, were floored, and Tremblay went on to have four successful seasons in the Trap Sheds. In 2014 Wickstrom finally convinced Tremblay to take the Commercial Street space.
“After a month, I wished I had done it years ago,” Tremblay says. “It was like the sheds on steroids.”
With the gallery space, Tremblay is able to exhibit larger pieces and show more work in different ways—for example, in various sizes and in limited edition series. Wickstrom runs the gallery’s business side, while Tremblay personally handles all phases of producing the artwork. In doing so, she is able to ensure the quality and integrity of her work remain intact. Along with photographing, Tremblay prints and frames her own work, passing significant savings along to her customers, who range from day-trippers and tourists looking for a souvenir of their time on Cape Cod, to collectors, including visitors to Provincetown who are looking for the perfect piece of art to hang in the salon of their yacht anchored just off in the harbor.
Like so many Cape Cod artists, Tremblay is attracted—dare we say, enamored—with the light found here. “It’s constantly changing, and I have lists of places I want to shoot in certain light,” she says. She’ll shoulder all of her equipment far up and into the dunes, sometimes returning numerous times until conditions are exactly the way she wants them. Here is where her training in graphic design becomes apparent. Her images all have balanced, uncluttered, clean compositions.
“Photography is about subtraction,” Tremblay says. “Everything is confronting you, so you have to take away, using fog and snow, and the aperture and frame.” When the light is just right, when the image is perfectly framed, she’ll open the aperture, set a long shutter speed, letting the light and the fog and surf smear and spread color, eradicating everything but the beauty of the Cape.
Julie Tremblay Gallery, 277 Commercial Street, Provincetown.