Lost and Found: Time, Tide, and Treasures

Cape Cod Art  /  ART Annual 2021 /

Writer: Christina Galt

Lost and Found: Time, Tide, and Treasures by Amy Heller and Gail Browne (Schiffer Publishing) is an  homage to old Provincetown, celebrating six artists and fellow beachcombers who hold Provincetown close to their hearts. 

“When I was a child, I used to go beachcombing in Provincetown with my mother and so it is really a memory piece, an homage to my mother, Adele R. Heller, and old Provincetown,” shares co-author Amy Heller. As a child, Heller would spend her summers beachcombing alongside her mother, finding washed up gadgets, bottles, glass, and all the natural wonders of the sea. “We would beachcomb, finding all sorts of things, but little did we know that the harbor was also the town dump at the time. That’s where people threw their things; the harbor itself was not exactly clean. People even had their homes purposely not facing the water because of the pollution,” remarks Heller. 

Remembering her time spent beachcombing with her mother, Heller explains, “I liked collecting natural things compared to man-made things; however, my mother  would collect a lot of bottles. I remember her walking with me and hearing her squeal with delight when she found a bottle.” Years later, Heller would move to the Cape with her high school sweetheart, choosing Provincetown as their home base, “When we first moved to Provincetown, I was thinking of rediscovering some of the things I loved to do, like working with clay. I had heard of an artist named Gail Browne who was teaching pottery,” Heller notes. “I knew I had to meet her and quickly went up to her gallery in the middle of Provincetown. As I made my way to her gallery, the first thing I noticed was the window filled with pottery shards and things she had collected from the beach—I was struck.” Flooded with the memories of her mother, Browne and Heller became instant friends, she shares, “Gail showed me more and more of her collections. My background in art is photography and mixed-media, so I said to Gail ‘Why don’t we create a book?’ I had been taking photos of different collections and we ended up involving six artists and beachcombers including Gail and I, who are all connected to each other and Provincetown.” 

Amy Heller, Gail Browne, Judy Berkowitz, Betty Bodian, Varujan Boghosian (June 26, 1926 – September 21, 2020) and Paul Bowen all collect what inspires them, each with their own individual stories seamlessly connected through shared experiences, “We want the reader to see through our eyes the beauty of Provincetown,” shares Heller. “Its cultural history, the beauty of how it was and how it is now—man-made vs nature.” 

“We collect what calls to us,” says Heller. “Beachcombing is a walking meditation for us, there are emotions and memories attached to it. This is our home; Provincetown is the center of our universe.” 

How collections influence my artwork:

I have always collected natural objects from the beach: glacial pebbles, shells, horseshoe crabs, skate egg cases, etc. I often use the human figure in my artwork. My earlier black and white photographs were time/motion studies of nude figures a la Eadweard Muybridge. I love motion and I collect wind-up toys, too. Skate egg cases look very figural to me, and I use them in my cyanotypes and constructions, as well. When Gail Browne and I were working on the book, I began photographing sand patterns, and we ended up using them in the book, along with photographs of seaweed, putting the reader ‘in situ’ at the beach. Even the book jacket has a sand-like texture. My love of the sea and my collections inform my artwork, and in turn, inform my life.

~Amy Heller  

Lost and Found: Time, Tide, and Treasures can be purchased on Amazon, Schiffer Publishing website and at local bookstores.

Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis Art Exhibition: October 7, 2021 talk/opening reception/book signing. On display until January 2, 2022. 

Talk and book signing at Provincetown Public Library August 5, 2021.

Christina Galt

Christina Galt is the Digital Editor at Cape Cod Life Publications. Born and raised on the Cape, Christina has always had a love for the ocean and everything "Cape Cod." She found herself the perfect home away from home at the University of Rhode Island and double majored in Sociology and Gender & Women’s Studies. After graduating, Christina came back to the Cape and started her journey at Cape Cod Life. She spends most of her free time with her family, especially her chocolate lab Sadie, and enjoys spending summers on her family’s boat.