It wouldn’t be summer on the Outer Cape without courses. And, fortunately, though indoor courses in art and writing are not in the offing at this stage of the coronavirus crisis, there is no dearth of virtual or outdoor options.
Kiah Coble, curator of adult education at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, says that PAAM’s adult courses this summer are about half-and-half online and outdoors. “I am impressed by how quickly teaching artists rose to the occasion,” Coble says. “I was expecting cancellations, but almost everybody wanted to figure out an alternative.”
Instructors of online Zoom classes have taken two approaches: some are opting for the usual six-hour blocks, while others are choosing shorter sessions and allowing students to work independently. They can share the work they’ve accomplished for critique and hoped-for admiration by sending in photos or holding it up to the computer camera.
Though students in adult online classes are generally responsible for their own art materials, they’ll receive at-home silkscreen kits for Vicky Tomayko’s Introduction to Silkscreen Printing, running from July 27 to Aug. 7. Even so, materials aren’t usually a problem, says Coble: “The biggest barrier to participation is technology, such as access to the internet or a computer.”
Outdoor (or “plein air”) classes taught by John Clayton, Mary Giammarino, Pete Hocking, Aaron Michael Thompson, and Kath Macaulay through August will take place at the beach, in PAAM’s lawn and sculpture garden, or around Provincetown. These are capped at five participants to allow for ample social distancing, so early booking is recommended, and participants must wear masks.
Outdoor art classes are allowed in phase two of Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening, as well as indoor art classes for children, though Tessa Bry Taylor, PAAM’s curator of youth education, feels it’s still too risky and that state guidelines for arts instructors are not especially clear.
Instead, PAAM is offering its children’s Art Reach program virtually this summer, from July 8 through Aug. 12. “The program is focused on exploring different mediums,” Taylor says. “Each week they take on a new project.” Materials are provided for pickup or delivery, and children can also be creative with objects found around their kitchen or on the beach.
There are also plein air workshops in landscape and watercolor painting for middle school and high school students coming out soon, as well as outdoor “art adventures” for smaller children. “As a parent of two very small children,” Taylor says, “I am even more desperate for this kind of program.” She sees the value in “creative tactile play” and getting children familiar with social distancing in preparation for school.
While Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill only has online adult programming for the time being, plein air classes are planned for its Edgewood Farm campus during August, Executive Artistic Director Cherie Mittenthal says. Its diverse selection of Zoom classes is focused on materiality, in a time when we spend so many hours in the intangible internet domain.
Glenn Grishkoff, for instance, provides materials for his brush-making class (July 20 to 24), and Anna Poor provides blocks of soapstone for her stone-carving class (Aug. 3 to 7). Patricia Miranda is teaching a class on egg tempera on Aug. 17, a good way to use up your overstocked quarantine rations. Clay classes this summer are focused on demonstrations or hand-building, as not everyone has a wheel at home. For those not yet suffering from screen fatigue, there is also a website-building class for artists with Jesse Freidin from July 27 to 31.
Mittenthal says she was unsure of the appeal of online classes at first, since “we are so tactile as artists,” but she’s pleased that people are “taking risks.” The second round of the Yellow Chair Salon, a four-month online artist residency program with Michael David, will start in October. Fellows craft PowerPoint portfolios of their work to share with their peers as well as guest critics. Mittenthal says that Castle Hill’s fall residency program is still up in the air.
The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown is offering a large selection of online writing workshops through its 24 Pearl Street program. These include a workshop on poet Rainer Maria Rilke by Mark Wunderlich, starting June 22; a flash essay workshop with Jill Talbot, starting July 6; and a workshop on pleasure and pain in poetry with Traci Brimhall, starting Aug. 3, among many others.
Many classes involve online lectures and independent writing, but also have “live” Zoom elements such as student meet and greets and virtual readings. In addition to workshops, FAWC is running a series of virtual events with their fellows and faculty, such as a “quarantine dinner conversation” with Marie Howe on June 23.
Finally, the Provincetown Independent is offering a free five-week journalism workshop for high school and middle school students from July 1 to Aug. 5. Participants will create pieces for publication in this newspaper.
Prospective students should sign up early for online classes. It also must be noted that these courses (except for the journalism workshop) are not free: at PAAM, they range from $50 to $400, based on the number of sessions and whether it’s online or plein air; courses at Castle Hill start at $165; and courses at FAWC cost between $400 and $600.