Along 6A in Brewster sits a small, stucco gallery. Outside, one would think they’re exploring the French countryside, but inside, the work of Jack Dickerson is distinctly Cape Cod. Floor to ceiling, the walls are covered with paintings depicting boats, waves, sunsets/rises, and more. Visitors can see Dickerson working in his adjoining studio and get to know the man behind the brush.
“I had never painted before my mid-fifties,” he recounts. But the artistic tendencies had always been there. After attending the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) for his undergraduate degree and the Basel School of Design in Switzerland for grad school, he began working at graphic design firms before branching off and opening up his own design business. While taking some necessary time off from work, Dickerson, with his wife’s encouragement, began painting and drawing. The advice he found the most helpful came from, of all places, a cooking class in France. The instructor, cookbook author Patricia Wells, told him not to worry about the cooking and just to try things out, to relax. That approach has shaped his artwork. “I try to just let things flow,” he muses. Starting with drawing and sketching, he then moved on to painting people and now covers a variety of subjects that inspire him.
With the kids off to college, Dickerson and his wife decided to move from the South Shore to the Cape. “When we were thinking of places to move, the Cape drew us in because of the ocean. I learned to walk on a catboat. I started my own business when I was 12 washing boats. I sailed in the Junior Olympic trials,” he explains. “I started thinking a couple years ago, ‘Where are all these paintings coming from?’ and as I’m learning more about myself, I realized it’s very clear my paintings are stories of my life….They are really about who I am.” The rowboats that are a frequent subject of his paintings harken back to all the time spent on the water; the trees are from the forests he has explored in his lifetime. “On the Cape, here we are next to the ocean, which I love; I can’t imagine being away from the salt water. And Nickerson State Park are my woods now. I walk through the woods and this is home for me.”
That love and true appreciation for the beauty and wonder of the area is evident across all of Dickerson’s work. He also says that he tries “to take an uneventful occurrence and make them striking moments in time.” Like most impressionists, his emphasis in his work is on the feelings and emotions that come with the subject matter. Visitors to his gallery are energized by the welcoming colors, imbued with a sense of calm and joy.
“In my life, I’ve never had a plan,” Dickerson remarks. “I started my own business and I knew instinctively I needed to solve some real problems. With painting, instinctively, I just move forward with it. If you had told me 20 years ago that I’d be sitting here today on Cape Cod, selling my paintings and owning my own gallery, I would’ve said, ‘You’re joking!’” Visitors to his gallery, and owners of his work, are all the more fortunate for his journey here.