Michael J. Andrews: We Are All Connected
By Jay Critchley
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you…. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
Provincetown is a storied art colony and a destination for creatives worldwide and also for those who seek to meet practicing artists. Our galleries and museums present scores of painters, sculptors, and mixed-media artists every year. It doesn’t take a visitor long to navigate the grid of streets that encircles the harbor on this spiral spit of sand, crammed with a vibrant visual street culture that rivals the white walls of the galleries and studios.
Right here, shadowed in the midst of our highly visible art community, tucked away in a common, peculiar Provincetown way, we have nurtured a self-taught artist, unknown to the public and the world: Michael J. Andrews.
Of Portuguese/Scottish/German lineage, a true son of Provincetown’s melded history of hands on whaling and fishing, artisan and art, struggle and promise, Michael joined the Navy after graduating from Provincetown High School and returned to work at Taves Boatyard for nine years. He then was the friendly custodian at Town Hall who worked the concerts and events for thirty-three years before retiring in 2018.
Michael, like many artists, continually questions the value and meaning of his art. I first saw his work in 2012 and was immediately fascinated and overpowered by its complex simplicity and visual brilliance. I instantly responded to the presence and vision of his art and encouraged him to keep creating despite his lack of confidence.
Michael works quietly in his cluttered basement on top of a metal filing cabinet, standing. The colorful paintings on paper, using pencil, ballpoint pens, ink and paint pens and magic markers, reflect his worldview of the cosmos, planets, wormholes, binary codes, Biblical references and created quotes, Stargate and invented biomorphic and geometric abstractions and Provincetown landscapes. This visionary work creates a high-emitting, optimized, complex ecosystem.
His paintings are largely unpeopled, except for possible UFO visitors. In his inventive, UFO Fleet over the Provincetown Sand Dunes, we see the lush organic sand dune shapes in green and yellow, a yellow sun, clouds, and a blue sky pierced by the geometric hard edges of protractor shapes. Attacking? Stopping for a swim? Or maybe just passing through…
The mandela-shaped, Happy Cosmosis, lays it out in brilliant colors and evocative texts: “God is great, He did create, all this cosmic real estate.” Do some of us earthlings believe we are on sacred ground? References to the Bible, binary codes, and secret markings create the architecture of this piece.
Provincetown Stargate invites us to jump right into the wormhole… for a magic carpet ride? It references a 1994 science-fiction film, and speculative space-time postulated by Einstein. How far out is Provincetown, tethered to the earth in a galaxy of stars, planets and UFOs? Come on board and find out!
Jay is a Provincetown conceptual, performance, multidisciplinary artist, activist and writer, founder and director of the Provincetown Community Compact and the Swim for Life. He may be reached at: [email protected]