Art We Love – Let There Be Light
For over a century, artists have been drawn to Cape Cod by its exceptionally beautiful and varied light – the intoxicating combination of sea air and sunlight reflecting off the water from every direction. Whether misty and foggy, bright and clear, or thick and golden, the light in Provincetown provides inspiration and a challenge to artists that is irresistible. Here are a few paintings currently on view in the galleries where that magic light plays a starring role.
Anastasia Egeli, An Orange Moment, oil on canvas (30” x 40”) – Treadwell Gallery
All of us have had a moment when the sun is setting in Provincetown and our eyes can barely believe what we’re seeing – that golden light illuminating everything as if from within. It’s a feat for an artist to capture the phenomenon without going over the top, and Anastasia Egeli has done it beautifully here. The pitch-perfect shaft of light and composition grab you from afar but her virtuosic color sense is the reward for a closer look. All in all she’s captured lightning in a bottle.
Robert Cardinal, Cook Street, oil on canvas (24” x 24”) – Kiley Court Gallery
This house is a frequent subject for artists, and it’s remarkable how each interprets the same scene, editing to create a version of the same reality. Here, Robert Cardinal convinces us that it’s not the stunning setting of the house on the bay that’s important, but a sliver of light on the chimney and the glow of the west-facing bits of the house catching the setting sun that are compelling. A masterful sleight of hand.
Anonymous, Mudhead, oil on board (18” x 24”) – Egeli Gallery
The “mudhead” is virtually synonymous with the Cape Cod School of Art, founded by Charles Hawthorne in 1899. Hawthorne had his students paint outside and encouraged them to work quickly, ignoring details and instead focusing on light and color. A recently discovered trove of mudheads now on view at Egeli Gallery shows how remarkably effective this technique was. This piece tells us so much about the light that day and lets our imaginations fill in the rest of the details.
Kenneth Hawkey, Lighthouse Yard, oil on canvas (20” x 30″) – Larkin Gallery
Just as it’s a challenge to capture the sun’s brilliant rays, it’s also no easy task to convey the feeling of a cloudy day when you don’t have dramatic shadows and contrasts to work with. Here, Kenneth Hawkey has gotten it perfectly – one of those damp Cape days when the light is utterly diffuse and you can’t tell where the sun is in the sky. Yet he gives us volume and depth and atmosphere, all in a timeless, elegant composition.
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.