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Falling for Creative Cape Cod

Waters Edge
by Ed Chesnovich, Scorton Creek Studio

Early in the morning of Thursday, Oct. 11, 1849, Henry David Thoreau set off on one of his iconic beach walks exploring Cape Cod. He had uncovered a secret that modern day explorers have only recently discovered — that fall on Cape Cod is perhaps the sweetest of all seasons. Warm days, cool nights, less traffic and the bogs and salt marshes begin showing their true colors. But did you know that fall is also the ideal time to explore Creative Cape Cod?

The Cape is home to 45 Historic Districts listed on the National Register including the Old Kings Highway Regional Historic District, the country’s largest as it winds along Route 6A. The Cape also boasts 16 local Historic Districts, six Cultural Districts, and the Cape Cod Museum Trail which connects over 70 cultural sites across the region.

Struna Galleries in Chatham

Yarmouth’s Cultural Center of Cape Cod is one trail treasure, hosting over 1,500 year-round events, exhibitions, and educational opportunities, as well as Gourmet Take-Out by a resident chef. The expansive campus is housed in the historic brick Bass River Savings Bank building, and truly represents “All the Arts for All of Us” through its extensive offerings. While in town, you’ll also want to stop at the Ann Sullivan Art Gallery to get your beach and boating fix through original paintings and prints. And for nature lovers, Brewster’s Cape Cod Museum of Natural History offers stunning hiking trails, 400 acres of diverse conservation land, a bountiful wildflower garden and programming for all ages.

Chef Joseph Cizynski, Cultural Center of Cape Cod in Yarmouth

A Vibrant Canvas of Creative Hot Spots

Fall is the perfect time to discover the hundreds of galleries, studios, and workshops that are housed in quaint shingled cottages, historic buildings, and artful living spaces. But even more special are the creative sparks that unite when you meet the artists and owners in person without the bustle of summer crowds.

For one, Chatham is fueled by generations of creatives. Odell Studios and Gallery is literally home base for Carol and Tom Odell, a creative husband and wife duo who met 45 years ago at a Chatham arts fair. Living in an historic Greek Revival home and gallery on Main Street, the magic really happens in the barn studio where Carol works in oils, encaustic and monotypes with a contemporary flair while Tom designs jewelry creations, hollowware, utensils and sculpture using precious metals, gems and Japanese alloys. Main Street is home to another family linked by their creative passions. Heather Struna, an artist, engraver and owner of Struna Galleries for the past 20 years also represents the work of her father, Timothy Jon Struna, an accomplished painter and printmaker, and her mother Barbara Eppich Struna, a historical fiction novelist. Their original paintings, prints, books and copper plate drypoint engravings illustrate how truly talented this family is.

Celebrating 60 years in Chatham, Munson Gallery originally opened in New Haven, Connecticut in 1860 and is one of America’s oldest art galleries. Run by Sally Munson, a fourth-generation art dealer and arts consultant, the gallery showcases world class fine artists at the Gibson Sotheby’s Real Estate office on Main Street, seasonal satellite locations and online. To finish your tour of Main Street, The Hopkins Gallery sits in a renovated apple barn where Pat Hopkins’ paintings, prints and cards uniquely capture the beauty of Cape Cod. 

Peonies In Bloom
by Sherry Rhyno, Gallery 31 Fine Art, oil, 12″ x 12″

Onward to Orleans where one can literally step into history at the Addison Art Gallery, where the pine flooring and solid beams hail from Boston’s famed Faneuil Hall. Known for exhibitions like “After Hopper” and “In Thoreau’s Views,” this gallery is an international destination with a huge local philanthropic heart. Community connections also run strong at Gallery 31 on Main where artist/owner Sherry Rhyno is founding chairperson of the Orleans Cultural District. Representing pastel, oil, watercolor, and alcohol ink artists, this standout shop is known for its personalized service, art demonstrations and workshops. Nearby, Eastwind Studio and Gallery is a long-standing local Arts Cooperative providing fine art and hand-crafted goods that appeal to every budget and aesthetic. Tree’s Place Gallery is one of the nation’s leading art galleries with a focus on representational painting including special exhibits on wooded landscapes, seascapes, still life and more by a wide range of contemporary artists. Recently opened, Kevin Rita of Garvey Rita Art & Antiques is following in his family’s footsteps with a focus on honoring quality artists who have lived and worked in this area. Be sure to watch for this fall’s Vernon Smith exhibit, an iconic Cape Cod arts champion and talented craftsman who served in the 1930’s as the area’s WPA supervisor while in Orleans.

Addison Art Gallery in Orleans, photo by Stephanie Foster

Up the road a piece in Eastham across from the National Seashore Visitors Center entrance, the Eastham Painters Guild is celebrating 40 years at the 1869 Schoolhouse Museum. Their year-round shows and exhibits, include this year’s special exhibit, “400 Years of Eastham.” It includes work by Robin Wessman, a Cape native who started the first Barnstable High School Art Club while a student, and is now a well-known oil painter capturing the shadows and light of Cape Cod with a keen eye for detail; watch for  his new online still life series.

Off of Route 6 in South Dennis is Miller White Fine Arts, an innovative contemporary fine art gallery with an international reputation that actively supports the local community. Founder Susan Reid Danton named the gallery as an aesthetic nod to her great aunt Dorothy Canning Miller, the first collections curator at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, and Susan’s mother, Edith Canning White.

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