Artists create portraits for many reasons: to honor leaders, to memorialize the dead, and to celebrate beauty. For artists who value working from direct observation, understanding the complexities of human anatomy and capturing the subtle color shifts of hair, cloth and skin can be endlessly intriguing.
Artists also use portraiture to explore the human condition, allowing the viewer to experience an intimate connection that bridges time and place. Whether commissioned or created out of passion for a subject, portraiture continues to engage us in powerful and surprising ways.
Fittingly, the exhibition features work created by one of the founding artists of the Provincetown Art Association, Charles W. Hawthorne, and two of his students, Edwin Dickinson and Gerrit Beneker. Hawthorne was one of the first artists to establish a school in Provincetown, and he loved the town’s thriving port and the fisher-folk who worked and lived here. His First Voyage, Boy with Fish, and The Fish Wife are perfect examples of his empathetic portrayal of locals, some of whose descendants continue to live and work in town today.
Edwin Dickinson’s self-portrait is a celebration of color and paint—would you guess that the same artist created the portrait entitled Biala? And Beneker’s portraits of An Old Fashioned Girl and Admiral MacMillan exemplify both the public and more personal aspects of portraiture. Spend some time with the “people” who populate this exhibition. What stories and secrets will they tell you?
The Lenore Ross Curating Program: Each year the PAAM invites educators and students to participate in the Lenore Ross Curating Program. Participants choose work from PAAM’s permanent collection and interpret it through art-making and creative writing, to be featured in exhibits in the museum galleries, or with cultural partners and collaborating schools.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website