“What the Pilgrims Saw I & II”
I did two paintings in Province Lands in August 2012. They are related to a history of the landscape of outer Cape Cod, as well as a nod to its place in US contemporary art history though only obvious to me. One painting is more abstract and one more realistic.
They depict part of the very end of Cape Cod near Provincetown but where it changes from Provincetown to Province Lands. That is exactly where the Pilgrims first landed (and is now part of our national park system- Cape Cod National Seashore). They signed the Mayflower Compact within 100 yards of the more realistic of the two paintings showing the high dune. Who can say with the shifting sands of the outer Cape what that spot looked like then but it is the spot. This is a couple months before they moved on to Plymouth as more suitable. By the way, the business about Plymouth Rock is “all malarkey, a public relations stunt”.
Interesting that they always identified the Provincetown harbor and the land of the outer Cape (called Province Lands) as public land (for fishing) and that even when they incorporated it into a town in early 1700’s you still could not have title to your land. Early socialists! So it is fitting so much of it is now within the Cape Cod National Seashore.
We stay about 6 miles from this site every summer and bike through this area pretty much every other day on a 20 something mile bike ride. It is so lovely, sparse and desert-like yet with the outer ocean right there!
Also there are the dune shacks which are a piece of American art history and American literature history. Notable inhabitants of the dune shacks were poets e.e. cummings, Harry Kemp and Mary Oliver; painters Edwin Dickinson, Boris Margo, Willem de Koonig and Jackson Pollock; and authors Eugene O’Neill, Jack Kerouac and Norman Mailer.
The dune shacks are in part now managed by Cape Cod National Seashore and one of them could be located in the more abstract of my two paintings, but I did not paint one. This area is just adjacent geographically to where the Pilgrims landed. Artists can apply to get a chunk of time in a shack to paint, and we have often gone on long sunset walks with the national park guides to visit an artist during their residency .