Nice to See You Again

It’s reunion time. We’re gathering with friends and loved ones after the bleak Covid winter, and many of us are looking forward to visiting places we love – like Provincetown. This week as I wandered around town and into the galleries I could feel the energy returning. Here are a few pieces that for me are all about the joy of being in Provincetown for the summer of ‘21.

Paul Kelly, New England Harbor #2 (oil on canvas, 20” x 20”), Alden Gallery

I was immediately drawn to this painting by its dynamic composition. There’s an energy here that the artist has created with both the layout and the vibrant, complementary color palate of blues and oranges. It’s no surprise that Paul Kelly has a background in architecture. His work shows a deep appreciation of Provincetown’s built environment and any of his paintings, whether realist or abstracted, will make you think of Ptown and smile.

Arthur Egeli, Pier Divers (oil on canvas, 24” x 24”), Egeli Gallery

]This painting is the essence of summer. Arthur Egeli has captured a timeless moment – the exhilaration of jumping off the pier into the icy water and basking in the warm sun as you wait for your next jump. This is not about specific people (we can’t even see their faces); it’s about a classic summer ritual. And he’s cleverly drawn the viewer into the scene so that you feel yourself standing on the sand watching the next plunge. Egeli is a filmmaker and a third-generation (!) painter whose eponymous gallery is a treasure trove of Provincetown painting past and present – a must for any Ptown visit.

Anne Blair Brown, Into the Evening (oil on linen, 20” x 20”), Simie Maryles Gallery

Who would have thought 18 months ago that a scene like this could provoke pangs of both nostalgia and anticipation? Yes, dining in a restaurant like the one Anne Blair Brown has depicted here will soon be routine again, but that doesn’t diminish the pleasures of this painting. A former chef, Brown describes her work as the product of years of intense observation of people and places. Here she makes the ordinary beautiful, capturing the soft light and textures of an elegant dining room in her lush, painterly style. Food for the soul indeed.

Daphne Confar, Nicki Knows Stories Change(11.5″ x 9.5″oil on panel), William Scott Gallery

I have long admired Daphne Confar’s ability to pack so much personality into her diminutive paintings. Her figures are depicted with such heart and soul you feel you know them. Or know them as well as anyone can with their wry smiles and watchful eyes. You instantly start to create a backstory – she reminds you of your third-grade teacher, your great aunt, or the woman at the bakery. But whoever Nicki is, she has the right idea for the summer of 2021 – head for the beach with beverage in hand.

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 four years ago.

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