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Artfully Available

Cape Cod Life  /  April 2020 / ,

Writer: Julie Craven Wagner

Across the Cape, the Islands and even statewide, the first week of May makes sure everyone is an artist

The harbingers of spring include iconic daffodil blooms, deep greens found in lawns and new leaf buds, and the cacophony of the birds as they set about their busy springtime lives. Another hallmark of the season can be found across the state as the eighth year of ArtWeek finds its way into galleries, restaurants, bookstores, boutiques and a myriad of unexpected corners. “What is ArtWeek?” you might ponder. Originally conceived in 2013 and modeled on the success of Boston’s Restaurant Week (without adopting their business model), venues across the city turned the concept of presenting art to the public on its head. Sue Dahling Sullivan, Chief Strategic Officer at Boston’s Boch Center, who oversees the organization and implementation of ArtWeek says, “We used research provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, that said people are looking to engage with arts, culture and creativity differently. It’s not enough to just sit and listen to a concert or to watch a play or see an art exhibit. People wanted that learning or social aspect—behind the scenes, interactive, hands-on, demos, panels, that kind of VIP access—where they could peek behind the curtain. And that helped us define the ArtWeek twist.”

Now that ArtWeek has expanded statewide, the natural inclusion of the Cape, Islands, South Shore and Southcoast communities means that the innovative interpretations and presentations previously found in dynamic cities like Boston, are happening in our local villages. This year, the third consecutive year for the area, there are over 125 events on the Cape and Islands and more than 50 in Plymouth County. The popularity and concentration of occasions to experience ArtWeek are impressive, but it is the unexpected creativity and sense of discovery that resonates most with the intrepid souls that delve into the programming. Out-of-the-box thinking is rewarded with memorable experiences that pair artistic expression and exploration against a variety of unusual backdrops. In other words, give creative individuals an excuse to abandon the barriers and confines of everyday life for 10 days, and the results will inspire and amaze.

The Harwich Cultural Center has embraced the event and is expanding upon their popular illumination kick-off from the previous two years’ festivities. For the first year, the exterior of the newly renovated 78,000-square-foot Cultural Center building was illuminated and spelled out ARTWEEK for all to see. Last year’s “Light up the Night” program involved local resident Robert Doane, who created a program that projected interactive piano keys onto the exterior of the building and a coordinated musical program of popular scores, like John Williams’ “Star Wars,” were performed to the crowd’s delight and amazement. This year, executive director Erica Szrpeck says, “The kick-off event will once again involve illumination, but the focus shifts from the Cultural Center to Harwich center. It will be organized by Robert Doane and will include the Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra who calls Harwich home. We will really be shining a light on how creative Harwich is!” Other events run the gamut including classic music being performed by Bo Ericsson, the Cape Symphony’s principal cellist, as accompaniment for an interactive painting event with local artist Laura Balboni. 

Cotuit, which has become a hotbed  for the arts thanks to the Cotuit Center for the Arts, is pulling out all the stops as six Cotuit organizations and businesses will be hosting a block party style celebration of the arts. The block party marks the second collaboration between Cotuit Center for the Arts, the Cahoon Museum of American Art, the Chapman Gallery, and Isaiah Thomas Bookstore. The event is free to the public, and attendees can enjoy food, drinks, music, visual art, tours, and literature in  six unique and diverse settings.

The Cultural Center in Yarmouth offers intriguing culinary classes throughout the year; in celebration of ArtWeek, they will be presenting “Basque Country Pintxos,” to celebrate a cultural favorite of the popular region where the art of local cuisine is presented in small bites. Participants will choose a plate for their delicacies from the Cultural Center’s pottery studio and take it home as a remembrance of the evening.

This year, ArtWeek coincides with Brewster’s annual Brewster in Bloom event. What better occasion to have a juried fine arts and crafts show that will also provide artists demonstrations, all en plein aire, among the dancing daffodils.

The Barnstable Performing Arts Center will host an open rehearsal for the Cape Symphony, and it is free. This behind-the-scenes look at how conductor Jung Ho-Pak coaxes and encourages the talented musicians to create exquisite collaborations of sound and subtlety will be a memorable event for any music lover. In addition attendees will be entered into a drawing for two tickets to a 2020 performance of their choice.

Heritage Museums & Gardens will explore the art of scrimshaw in an event titled “Carved in Bone.”  Attendees will get a glimpse of the museum’s permanent collection that is not on exhibit and learn about the dramatic history of scrimshaw and whaling.

On Cinco de Mayo, right in the middle of ArtWeek, Cape Sands Ballroom and the Dennis Senior Center will provide Latin-themed line dancing for dancers of all levels. Tacos, margarita mocktails and a Mexican dessert will round out the evening.

Martha’s Vineyard has a robust schedule and in keeping with the magical and unexpected nature of the island, some of their events are simply out of this world. Misty Meadows Equine Learning Center (a facility that leverages the healing power of working with horses) will be showcasing the Amity Island Horse Archers (yes, archers on horseback) who via flinging and zinging arrows will be applying paint to canvases. In addition, resident Tony the Pony will be showing off his artistic skills as he wields paintbrushes in his teeth to create one-of-a-kind (obviously) masterpieces.

Plymouth has an especially exciting year planned for their ArtWeek celebration. Since 2020 is full of commemorative events for the seaside town, the folks in Plymouth are planning a robust schedule that is intended to complement the 400th acknowledgment of the Mayflower Compact and the landing of the Pilgrims. Everything from an open rehearsal for youth-based  Break A Leg Theater, to deerskin doll making at Plimoth Plantation, to designing your own book cover at The Pinehills, makes for a week of celebrating and appreciating our rich artistic culture. Throwing the net past the town of Plymouth to Plymouth County, events are popping up in Marion, Wareham, Scituate and Rockland to name just a few communities.

ArtWeek is now a statewide celebration and whether you travel to the Berkshires or stroll into the closest Cape Cod village, the first week in May is sure to inspire your creative side.

For more information, visit ArtWeek online at

Julie Craven Wagner

Julie Craven Wagner began her experience with Cape Cod Life in 2010 when she joined the sales team after 10 years of working with local businesses on the Cape and Islands with WMVY. In addition to sales, she is the Associate Publisher/Editor of Cape Cod LIFE, Cape Cod HOME, and Cape Cod ART. Growing up on the Outer Cape has given her a unique perspective of life on Cape Cod, from tip to bridge, and that is reflected in her appreciation and presentation of stories found within the pages of our publications. Julie lives in North Falmouth with her husband, Eric, and their yellow lab, Enzo. When she finds free time, she enjoys her Cape Cod life sailing on Buzzards Bay, spending time on the beach in Wellfleet, or exploring Martha’s Vineyard.