Erna Partoll ‘Captures Time’
A show celebrating Erna Partoll runs through May 7 at Berta Walker Gallery, 208 Bradford St. in Provincetown. At age 90, Partoll says, “Painting is capturing something in time and holding it there.”
Partoll’s colorful, geometric paintings are instantly recognizable, but some works in the show may surprise you. Her Spring Day paintings from the 1980s depict undulating forms in pastel colors. From 1973, Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow is a pencil and charcoal still life depicting abstracted clocks, light fixtures, even a cassette tape. The gallery is open weekends noon to 4 p.m., or by appointment.
Felipe Ortiz’s ‘Explosive Nature’
“It’s a show that celebrates the environment,” says Felipe Ortiz of his solo exhibition at Rugosa Gallery, a newly established venue in Eastham. The opening, on Friday, April 22 from 5 to 9 p.m., coincides with Earth Day. The show features vibrant paintings of flora and fauna created over the past five years and runs through May 12 at 4100 Route 6.
“It all sparked from my re-encounter with Colombia,” says Ortiz. Returning to his native country after 14 years “was emotionally extreme,” he says. Over the past five years, he has traveled back and forth, with most of the works in the show created there. With his eye toward nature, he started studying birds and their migration routes along Eastern waterways.
“Some of these species have done the same trajectory I have done,” he says. “Are we not also migratory species? Can we move freely? We can’t.”
In addition to reflecting his nomadic, transnational lifestyle, the precisely painted birds also “emphasize the biodiversity of Colombia,” he says. Ortiz places his birds in explosions of paint and intense color, conjuring the tropical environment and “extremes” Ortiz sees in Colombia’s climate, geography, economics, and culture. In Oystercatcher, black and white birds fly out from the center, hovering over a splash of beige paint and a cluster of oysters. Ortiz forges a tension between the grounding, immersive blue of the canvas and the spontaneous action.
This is the artist’s first solo show on the Outer Cape and his second year spending the off season here. “It’s a way to establish my roots on the Cape,” says Ortiz, who is planning for the exhibition to be immersive, with plants, projections of his public projects, and music. Pretty soon, he will take flight, heading back to Colombia for the summer. — Abraham Storer
Photography Out in the Open
The Provincetown Commons continues its bi-annual tradition of hosting an open-call show. But this time, there’s a twist. “We had a lot of interest last year in people wanting to exhibit photography,” says Executive Director Jill Stauffer. “Since we had such a demand, we devoted one show to photography.” The show runs through May 1 at 16 Bradford St., with an opening on Saturday, April 23 from 5 to 7 p.m.
The show features 50 photographs of various sizes by different Outer Cape artists. The subjects range from landscapes to portraits to everything in between. One highlight is a ghostly photograph by Marian Roth. In this photographic negative, an ominous hooded figure stands on a nondescript street. Two bleached-out trees loom in the background.
Justin Sheps similarly plays with mood and atmosphere within the format of traditional film photography. His photograph depicts two figures walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, shrouded by what could be descending fog or the imperfections of the medium itself. —Abraham Storer
Recent Gifts From Robert Duffy at PAAM
In Charles Hawthorne’s The Boat Steerer, part of an exhibition of recent gifts from the Robert Duffy collection at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, one can clearly make out the blue-purple veins in the old man’s left hand. The lifegiving tributaries echo the creases in the man’s oil slick coat. His right hand, red from the cold, grasps an oar. The slippery forms of just-caught fish occupy the bottom left corner of the canvas.
On the same wall, Hawthorne’s Boy With Fish shows the end point of one of those scaly creatures. A boy, who looks no more than six or seven, holds one on a tray, his blue eyes matching his shirt, his cherry-red mouth slightly pursed. The intensity of his gaze matches that of the world-weary boat steerer, though his is one of pure innocence.
The adjacent wall shows a different kind of contrast, not between young and old, but between traditional and modern. An untitled still life by Henry Hensche is an exercise in light and dark: against a dark maroon ground, a metal kettle’s bright sheen, the intense pop of the tangerine. It is so different from Karl Knath’s Lilacs or Drapes and Plants that it is hard to believe they belong to the same genre and were painted only about 10 years apart.
Other highlights of the exhibition are Robert Motherwell’s Sirens II and an unidentified Mudhead portrait full of holes. (From nails? Bullets? It’s mysterious.) There is a continuity between Milton Avery’s small drypoint Bathers and George McNeil’s monumental oil on canvas, similarly named.
The exhibition, which consists of 19 works selected from a total of 61, is on view through June 5 at 460 Commercial St. The museum is open Thursday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. —Saskia Maxwell Keller