Cape Cod Museum of Art
60 Hope Lane
Through August 26
Perhaps it’s the great inverted bowl of the sky pouring light onto the easels of amateurs and professionals alike that has transformed this probing tentacle of the Massachusetts coast into a mecca for painters, sculptors and, for that matter, artists of every stripe. Perhaps it’s the corkscrewing, narrowing shape of the Cape itself that draws, by a kind of geological mesmerism, bevies of searching souls.
Or, look no further than the great wars of the last century that injected streams of European artists into the metropolis of New York City who then, to escape the heat and human traffic, summered where they could hear the sound of their own voices arguing amid birdsong and lapping waves.
Whatever … we’ve got ‘em. In such abundance and variety as would have shocked our Pilgrim ancestors who signed their Mayflower Compact up near Provincetown and probably expected the soil there to bear, ever-after, only one creed.
And yet, though we’ve got ‘em, and have ‘em still, several conservative-minded souls back in the 1980s discovered that Cape Cod had sprung a leak through which art, nurtured by its tides and estuaries, colonies and teachers, was escaping to museums and moneyed institutions … on the mainland!
Enter the Cape Cod Museum of Art, first as rented space, then its own building growing wings and storied halls on its own spacious lot. Lately even a sculpture garden and veranda have been added to slow the visitor’s approach to a leisurely crawl and/or seated gaze. Why hurry by such riches?
Two exhibits, both quiet blockbusters, inhabit its galleries until August 26.
The larger exhibit, “The Tides of Provincetown,” organized by the New Britain Museum of American Art, is stuffed with artistic “home runs” — more of those later. The smaller exhibit: “Two Hundred Years of Cape Cod Art,” reaching further back in history, is stuffed with the guys and gals who are on base when those home runs are hit or, in some cases, batted in directions that aren’t even measurable by the neat green diamond of today’s game.