Since I had no easy access to internet while I was there (partly intentional), I am posting this week what I wrote each day, as I knew nobody was exactly awaiting a real-time trip report, and this blog is also an ongoing record of notes for myself.
I had the time to go, if not much money, but I reasoned I only had basic expenses (food) I'd pay at home, plus fuel. I planned to spend my few days walking and visiting galleries, soaking up the place. Taking pictures and notes, maybe talking to people. Getting a sense of the history. Remembering all the painters and writers I'd read about, who lived in or visited Provincetown. The 'someone' who encouraged me was a family friend who knew I would love it and find inspiration.
I drove out here in the rain Thursday, found the house and settled in, then drove 30 miles out to the tip of the land. By the sandy dunes, I pulled over and looked at the damp gray beach for a moment through my rain-spattered windshield.
Back in town, I parked and went into nearly every gallery that was open, and peered through the windows of the ones that weren't. While there are a few galleries that are what I think of as the vacation-town sort-- kind of predictable and full of identical paintings to sell to the summer crowd (not that I wouldn't try it myself if I could manage it, steadily producing canvases and sitting back as they sail out the door- wait, why can't I do this? I should), there are a lot of really good, original galleries too, featuring work you wouldn't expect. I recognized some artists' names, and chatted with the owners, all of whom were friendly.
I unhinged my jaw to gape at the impossible charm of the pretty little houses and courtyards, the winding brick paths and gardens, all as impossibly charming as promised. I've been to Nantucket, no slouch in the charm department, and actually I'd been to Cape Cod once before- 12 years ago, when I went with my whole family- but I hadn't been thinking about the art so much that time. I did drag my family into some kooky galleries here and in Truro- like the Susan Baker Memorial Museum- but it's different when I'm alone and can duck in and out of places at my own whim.
This morning, Fri, I climbed the 252-ft tall Pilgrim Monument, up '116 steps and 60 ramps' to the top of the all-granite structure where I emerged to a windy, sweeping view. Inside the Provincetown Museum, I learned about the monument (built 1907-10), the local history, and the Mayflower pilgrims (who first arrived here in 1620, before they'd moved on to Plymouth). I thought about the complex history regarding those Europeans and Native Americans, certain parts that we never dwelled on in school. I walked down the hill into town and into a used-book shop, where I found Land's End: A Walk Through Provincetown by Michael Cunningham, and Winter: Five Windows on the Season by Adam Gopnik. I've read most of their books, but not these. As he rang me up, the owner said they regularly visit the shop, and that Cunningham is a friend of his. I left feeling happy, the effect that new books always have on me.
By mid-afternoon the sun came out. I walked over to see the Fine Arts Work Center, which offers a 7-month residency to 20 fellows in visual arts and writing. I nearly applied twice, and made it halfway through the application last winter, but just wasn't sure. I'm still doubtful- about the length of the program and about my chances of getting in- but after visiting today, I have to try. I even got an impromptu private tour. It would be a game-changer, I know. I can barely imagine. Would it be right for me? And I for it? I'm glad I saw it- there's always someday. I've got a lot of ideas for someday, though many are at odds with each other. To calm my thoughts, I went and sat by the bay eating exotic ice cream and wiggling my feet in the sand.