These days we could all do with a little joy in our lives. Moments of spontaneous happiness and excitement: something I experienced a number of times while exploring the galleries this week. The works highlighted here put a smile on my face, and I encourage you to take a stroll around the galleries – virtually or on site. I guarantee you’ll find a moment of bliss.

Vicki Tomayko, Phlox (Monoprint, 19” x 19.5”), Schoolhouse Gallery

I actually let out an audible “wow” when I walked into Schoolhouse Gallery and saw a grouping of Vicki Tomayko’s vibrant monotypes. The saturated colors and brilliant layering of images make them endlessly engrossing and a pleasure to drink in. First and foremost, Phlox makes me happy – but it’s also a fascinating mass of contradictions. It’s graphic and bold, yet the more you look you see how subtle the layering is. It’s a riot of color, but what a gorgeous and sophisticated palate it is. And finally, hats off to an artist who created this two-dimensional piece of happiness at a moment when contentment is in such short supply.

Pete Hocking, Trail no.1 (16” x 16,” oil on panel), Four Eleven Gallery

When I look at Pete Hocking’s landscapes I feel awe. Whether they’re the size of a greeting card or on a scale that could hold a wall in any New York loft, they are just plain powerful. Virtuosic brushwork, taut compositional framing, and a vivid palate endow them with pulsing energy. I could stare at this scene all day wondering how he gets these thick, confidently applied streaks of paint to so beautifully conjure up sea and sky and sand and our gorgeous Cape Cod light.

Barbara Cohen, Barbara’s Farm Stand (gouche on paper), AMP Gallery

Barbara Cohen is a well-known painter and sculptor, and this work of whimsy is not her usual gig. But there it was – Barbara’s Farm Stand – a wall of bulging brown paper bags each with a quirky, brightly colored vegetable “label.” They evoke a sense of nostalgia (she was inspired by the vegetable stands in Lancaster, PA she frequented as a child) but were born out of her heightened awareness of the food supply chain in the pandemic. So if there were ever a case of making lemonade from lemons, this is it.

TJ Walton, Whale Tail (18” x 48,” mixed media on hardboard), TJ Walton Gallery

If you’ve ever been on a whale watch you know the exhilaration of witnessing a whale leap from the ocean into the air and dive back down into the water with an elegant flip of the tail fin to finish the act.  TJ Walton has made this moment of magic her own, playing with abstraction and composition but never losing the thrill of the moment.

George Rogers is an artist and ceramicist.  After a career in museums including the MFA in Boston and the Smithsonian, he and his husband moved to Provincetown full time three years ago. We are so lucky to have him.