Stephen Pace will have his first solo exhibition, “Stephen Pace in Provincetown,” posthumously at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum from July 5 through September 1. During his lifetime, Pace journeyed through styles from representational through pure abstraction to Abstract Expressionism to a merger of figural with expressionism — finally creating his own minimalist, Post-Impressionist, representational mode. Provincetown was a huge influence on him; he was in group shows at PAAM throughout his years.
Recuperating from hospitalization during World War II where he served first in the infantry and then as a designer of chemical-proof clothing and war posters, he was drawing by the Seine when Gertrude Stein invited him to meet Pablo Picasso. Pace had already been practicing art, and architectural drafting and drawing under the tutelage of a WPA (Works Progress Administration) artist, Robert Lahr, while in his teens. After the war, he studied art in Mexico, Paris and Florence on the GI Bill before traveling to Manhattan to become a professional artist.
According to exhibition curator, Cathy Claman, the president of the Stephen and Palmina Pace Foundation, at one point Pace shared a studio with one of the originators of the Abstract Expressionist movement, Clyfford Still and was friends with other important artists, Franz Kline and Milton Avery. Their jagged lines and use of space and color influenced Pace as he studied in New York and then in Provincetown, Massachusetts, with the famous 20th-century modernist painter, Hans Hofmann, who called Pace one of his best students.
Pace “felt a real affinity with Hofmann,” said Claman. And he felt an affinity for Provincetown. He would continue to visit there and one of his first galleries was the cutting edge HCE Gallery in Provincetown.
Christine Berry, whose Berry Campbell Gallery in the Chelsea district of Manhattan represents the Pace estate’s art, is collaborating with Claman on the exhibition. She agreed that it will be “a celebration of the influence of Hofmann and Provincetown itself” on Pace’s development. “It’s a survey of his works” from the 1950s to the 2000s.