Art Briefs – The Provincetown Independent
Beth Malone returns to Provincetown
Beth Malone says she has felt connected to Provincetown for decades. “It was the first place I walked down the street holding my wife’s hand in 1993,” she says. “It felt like a kind of gay Disneyland. It helped me realize how much we internalized a kind of shame about who we were – we didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. Tony Awards will return to town as part of Mark Cortale’s “Broadway at the Art House” series on October 1.
Malone received critical acclaim for her roles both on and off Broadway and appeared in a one-woman show, Beth Malone: So far, which she also wrote. But that was her performance in the lesbian coming-of-age musical fun house, based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel, which garnered significant attention and made waves in the queer community. She first performed at the Art House in 2017 and will take the stage this weekend accompanied by series host Seth Rudetsky. “I can hang out with Seth for an hour and a half, and we make each other laugh, and that’s the show,” she says. “It’s basically two people spinning shit and singing songs.”
But it is also something more than that. “After my first visit to Provincetown, I asked myself, ‘How can I become a person who could possibly have her own show here that lesbians would come to?’ Malone says. “And now I am here. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure this is real life. Tickets for his show are available at provincetownarthouse.com. —Sophie Mann-Shafir
The elementary landscapes of Chris Kelly
Water, earth and sky: Chris Kelly distills landscapes down to their basic elements. An exhibition of new paintings from his “Dune Patrol” series is on view at the AMZehnder Gallery in Wellfleet until October 16.
The title of the series aptly describes Kelly’s minimalist and well-composed beach views. In some compositions, the vantage point is low on the horizon, bringing out the vastness of the sky and emphasizing the scale of the dunes in relation to the air and water around them. Others further encapsulate the masses of each element in richly colored, taut abstract shapes.
The paintings did not start out as representations of specific places. Instead, they evolved as offshoots of Kelly’s graphic design practice. (Kelly is the creative director of Provincetown Independent and is responsible for the design and graphic identity of the newspaper.)
Kelly says the series began as experiments to see how colors interacted when juxtaposed via geometric shapes. “I’m not a great designer, but I’ve always preferred flat graphics,” he says. “When I started painting, it was in a more abstract and open style. But then I noticed that these shapes started to look like landscapes with a steep dune on one side and a horizon in the distance. So I took it to the beach and looked for combinations of shapes in the actual landscape, and the series kind of grew from there.
The paintings evolved through several iterations as Kelly incorporated more intricate shapes and details into his compositions. He began adding moons, stars and color gradients to the sky in some paintings after an admirer of his work mentioned a fondness for sunsets. But even (or perhaps especially) in those where skies are rendered as flat expanses of a single color, all of Kelly’s paintings capture the subtleties of light and atmosphere with a remarkably economical visual vocabulary. What started as an abstract exercise became a way of rendering personal experience of an ever-changing environment.
“Paintings are what I see,” Kelly says. “Those are sweet little memories.” —John D’Addario
Star Power by John McDaniel at the Post Office Café
Grammy and Emmy Award-winning John McDaniel’s resume includes gigs as high-profile as music director of Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show and backing Broadway superstar Audra McDonald on from a cruise to Europe earlier this year. But he is particularly excited about his residency at the Post Office Café this month.
“Provincetown is a unique place, and it seems to remind me of it all the time,” says the Florida-based accompanist, who has performed with Shirley Jones at the Crown & Anchor and with Melissa Manchester at the Post Office Café. “The public is always so interested in what we do. They really understand.
McDaniel performs a three-week residency during which he accompanies three Broadway stars for evenings of cabaret-style performances. The September 22 premiere show featured actor and singer Hugh Panero, who has starred in award-winning productions of The Phantom of the Opera and Sweeney Todd. In the coming weeks, McDaniel will feature Eden Espinosa in her Provincetown debut and Broadway veteran Lee Roy Reams.
“Eden is a dream,” McDaniel says. “She’s a lot of people’s favorite Elphaba in Nasty, and she’s always knocked out when she plays. And Lee Roy is show business personified. He danced with Gwen Verdon and Juliet Prowse and appeared in the original production of 42nd street. He is a gifted performer with a beautiful voice and a wonderful storyteller.
For all the star power with which he’ll be sharing the stage this month, it’s the Provincetown attraction that McDaniel is perhaps most eager to experience with his audience.
“This city is a magnet for the arts,” he says. “It has always attracted the greatest performers, musicians and artists and the audience that truly appreciates them. And there’s always that amazing feeling you get when you walk down Commercial Street. No matter how long I’ve been away, I still feel like I belong here. —John D’Addario
Emmy nomination for Lise Balk King
Provincetown filmmaker Lise Balk King has been nominated for a Documentary Emmy Award for her production and second camera work on tangled, a film about saving North American right whales from extinction without destroying traditional New England fishing practices.
King first got to know entangled director David Abel in a visual and environmental studies program at Harvard. Part of his job on the film was to board one of the Coastal Studies Center’s research vessels for a close encounter with his main subjects.
“Being up close to the whales in calm, flat water and filming them was beyond words,” King says. “That this nomination will draw attention to the struggle for survival of this incredible creature at the top is what the work is about.”
King’s film credits include co-producing the critically acclaimed film Heroine: Cape Cod for HBO Documentary Films in 2015. She worked as an impact producer on Leave no trace, a Hulu documentary about the Boy Scouts sex abuse scandal. She is currently working on a documentary about the annual Provincetown Swim for Life. The Emmy Awards ceremony will take place on September 29. —Sue Harrison
Flashback with Stephen Aiken
“I’m a 70s guy,” painter and photographer Stephen Aiken jokes as he tours the upper level of 230A Main St. in Wellfleet (formerly Gaa Gallery) where he has installed more than a dozen paintings at oil paintings inspired by sound, seasonal changes, street banners, and the general pleasures of the world as he observes them. The exhibition will open with a reception on Saturday, October 1 from 6 to 9 p.m.
The show is something of a retrospective for the artist, who began his career in a downtown New York loft over 40 years ago. Many works have been continually reworked and adjusted in his Wellfleet studio over the decades.
In a series of paintings titled Autumn, summer, and Winter, Aiken uses atmospheric colors and tones to communicate the temperature, mood and memories of the landscape through the seasons. He describes another series of vertical abstract panel paintings as a “study in sound”. And his new series, “Ensign and Paradigm,” is inspired by Mexican paper-cut banners, or picado paper, used as decoration for parties.
The gallery’s lower level also serves as Aiken’s temporary workspace and is filled with colorful ephemera from his days as a photographer in New York, where his subjects included Patti Smith, Bob Dylan and Joseph Beuys. These photos and the stories that accompany them are the subject of his book Artists in Residence: Downtown New York in the 1970sforthcoming from Letter 16 Press. —Kirsten Andersen