A Next-Gen Artist Moves to Provincetown

By Mike Sullivan

I need to make a confession.

I used to make a habit of writing in journals and scrapbooks. Piecing together pictures then writing about the experience was something I really looked forward to. At the moment, though, writing feels completely foreign. You know, we’re always told in life to not cut yourself short, to step forward with confidence. In this present moment, however, I feel like the only way to truly proceed with this entry is to acknowledge to you that each word following the next is akin to the blind leading the blind.

Since I came to Provincetown in June of 2020 I’ve been playing catch-up. I tried to journal, but my fingers don’t move at the rate the Ptown vortex spins. I tried to record myself talking into my phone—to at least document my day-to-day—but even that was impossible when right in front of me there was always something to take in. The secrets of Commercial Street, the bleeding sky above the crisp ocean, the characters that roamed both—everything kept me from taking stock in myself and what was happening around me.

Mike Sullian yes 3
Mike Sullivan yes 2

I was told Provincetown would do that.

Although I’ve been accustomed to getting myself in trouble, there is something unique about the social perimeters in this village. No matter who you are, or where you came from, something will present itself to you— a lesson, an experience, a person. I’ve learned the slot machine that is Ptown can leave you rolling into the jackpot or perpetually pulling the lever for one more chance. One more summer, one more beach hike, one more night out. Anything to right the wrongs. Anything to take one step closer to what we are consciously or subconsciously looking for.

This gut feeling, the itch that can’t be satisfied, resonates with the stories and other perspectives I’ve heard from fellow Ptownies. What brought us here? What’s kept us here? For me, I can say that the art scene in Ptown was what initially called my name. But after only one year here, I can see that there has been so much more to offer. Between the new friends, jobs, and different homes I am learning that I connect with the community on a much more personal level that I did not foresee. The challenges and the subsequent choices I’ve made in response have offered more opportunity to learn than any academic setting could. One thing is undeniable about Provincetown and the people here: a resounding desire to grow. The individuals I’ve met are exactly that—original and independent. No matter what our unique goals, we’re collectively working toward betterment. A passion to grow within our business, our creativity, love life, friendship, or our understanding of how we fit in the world.

Moving here during the pandemic was an interesting experience, as I have yet to live in Ptown when it functions as designed! I have smiled listening to the plethora of stories, the subtle and major moments that make Ptown singular and memorable. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, business like the Schoolhouse Gallery, Provincetown Brewery Company, the Bradford Inn, and the Stowaway Society have extended themselves in different ways that have ultimately changed my life and artistic career for the better. This is where I have seen the beautiful potential in what this town has to offer the next generation of people. Thank you, Mike Miller, for trusting me to write an entry for this Next Generation issue. Thank you, Gaston Lacombe with Studio Lacombe for displaying my first gallery exhibition. Thank you Mark Adams for sharing your creative excitement and pulling back the curtain to Ptown’s natural wonders. Thank you, PBC, for your work with Draftivism; thank you, Stowaway, for opening your doors to young artists; thank you, Bradford Inn, for hosting events that encourage diversity and inclusion in Ptown. Actions like this prove the investment the town has in its future—for Provincetown itself, but also the greater community outside of 02657.

The work I’m displaying in this issue of ptownie exhibits the efforts and investment of the Provincetown community. The images here reflect the heart of my experience. None of this would be possible if it weren’t for the patience and kindness of many people in my life. I am looking forward to sharing this with you, and to continue sharing with you. This entry is a drop in the timeline, a pitstop of reflection in my journey forward. The ideas and realizations I’ve had this past year, the moments I’m speaking of in this very entry are in the earliest stages of development. Thank you, endlessly to the people who have uplifted me this past year; I am looking forward to mirroring the love that Provincetown has shown.

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