Beth Malone Returns to Provincetown
Beth Malone says she’s felt connected to Provincetown for decades. “It was the first place I ever walked down the street holding my wife’s hand back in 1993,” she says. “It felt like sort of a gay Disneyland. It helped me realize how we internalized a kind of shame about who we were — we didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.” The Tony Award-nominated actress will return to town as part of Mark Cortale’s “Broadway at the Art House” series on Oct. 1.
Malone has been critically acclaimed for roles both on and off Broadway and has appeared in a one-woman show, Beth Malone: So Far, which she also wrote. But it was her performance in the lesbian coming-of-age musical Fun Home, based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, that garnered particular attention and made waves in the queer community. She first performed at the Art House in 2017 and will take the stage this weekend accompanied by series host Seth Rudetsky. “I get to hang out with Seth for an hour and a half, and we make each other laugh, and that’s the show,” she says. “It’s basically two people shooting the shit and singing some songs.”
But it’s something more than that, too. “After my first visit to Provincetown, I asked myself, ‘How do I ever become a person who could possibly have their own show here that lesbians would come to?’ ” Malone says. “And now I’m here. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s real life.” Tickets for her show are available at provincetownarthouse.com. —Sophie Mann-Shafir
Editor’s note: Beth Malone’s show was canceled after the Independent‘s print deadline. Contact the Art House for further information.
Chris Kelly’s Elemental Landscapes
Water, earth, and sky: Chris Kelly distills landscapes to their basic elements. A show of new paintings from his “Dune Patrol” series is on view at AMZehnder Gallery in Wellfleet through Oct. 16.
The series title aptly describes Kelly’s minimalistic, tightly composed beach vistas. In some compositions the viewpoint is low on the horizon, giving prominence to the vastness of the sky and emphasizing the scale of the dunes in relation to the air and water that surround them. Others abstract the masses of each element even further into richly colored and tautly balanced abstract shapes.
The paintings didn’t start out as representations of specific locations. Instead, they evolved as offshoots of Kelly’s graphic design practice. (Kelly is the creative director for the Provincetown Independent and is responsible for the newspaper’s design and graphic identity.)
Kelly says that the series began as experiments to see how colors interacted when they were juxtaposed via geometric shapes. “I’m not much of a drawer, but I’ve always leaned towards flat graphics,” he says. “When I started painting, it was in a more abstract and open-ended style. But then I noticed that those shapes began resembling landscapes with a steep dune on one side and a horizon in the distance. So, I took it to the beach and looked for combinations of shapes in the actual landscape, and the series just sort of grew from there.”
The paintings evolved through several iterations as Kelly incorporated more complex shapes and details in his compositions. He began adding moons, stars, and color gradients to the skies in some paintings after an admirer of his work mentioned a fondness for sunsets. But even (or maybe especially) in the ones where skies are rendered as flat expanses of a single color, all of Kelly’s paintings capture subtleties of light and atmosphere with a remarkably economical visual vocabulary. What started out as an abstract exercise became a way of rendering his personal experience of a constantly changing environment.
“The paintings are what I see,” says Kelly. “They’re sweet little memories.” —John D’Addario
John McDaniel’s Star Power at Post Office Café
Grammy- and Emmy-award winning John McDaniel’s resume includes such high-profile gigs as being musical director for Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show and accompanying Broadway superstar Audra McDonald on a European cruise earlier this year. But he’s especially excited about his residency at the Post Office Café this month.
“Provincetown is a unique place, and it seems to keep calling me back” says the Florida-based accompanist, who has performed with Shirley Jones at the Crown & Anchor and with Melissa Manchester at the Post Office Café. “The audiences are always so into what we’re doing. They really get it.”
McDaniel is doing a three-week residency in which he accompanies three Broadway stars for evenings of cabaret-style performances. The first show on Sept. 22 featured actor and singer Hugh Panero, who starred in award-winning productions of Phantom of the Opera and Sweeney Todd. In upcoming weeks, McDaniel will present Eden Espinosa in her Provincetown debut and Broadway veteran Lee Roy Reams.
“Eden is a dream,” says McDaniel. “She’s many people’s favorite Elphaba in Wicked, and she’s always a knockout when she performs. And Lee Roy is show business personified. He danced with Gwen Verdon and Juliet Prowse and appeared in the original production of 42nd Street. He’s a gifted performer with a glorious voice — and a wonderful storyteller.”
For all the star power he’ll be sharing the stage with this month, however, it’s the pull of Provincetown that McDaniel is perhaps most looking forward to experiencing with his audiences.
“This town is an arts magnet,” he says. “It’s always attracted the greatest performers and musicians and artists and the audiences who truly appreciate them. And there’s always that amazing feeling you get when you walk down Commercial Street. No matter how long I’ve been away, I always feel like I belong here.” —John D’Addario
Lise Balk King’s Emmy Nomination
Provincetown filmmaker Lise Balk King has been nominated for a News & Documentary Emmy Award for her production work on Entangled, a film about saving North American right whales from extinction without destroying traditional New England fishing practices.
King first became acquainted with Entangled director David Abel in a visual and environmental studies program at Harvard. Part of her work on the film involved setting out on one of the Center for Coastal Studies research vessels for an up-close encounter with its main subjects.
“Being near the whales in flat calm waters and filming them was moving beyond words,” says King. “The fact that this nomination will bring attention to the struggle for survival of this incredible apex creature is what the work is all about.”
King’s film credits include co-producing the critically acclaimed Heroin: Cape Cod for HBO Documentary Films in 2015. She worked as impact producer on Leave No Trace, a Hulu documentary about the Boy Scout sexual abuse scandal. She is currently working on a documentary about Provincetown’s annual Swim for Life. The Emmy Awards ceremony is on Sept. 29. —Sue Harrison
Looking Back With Stephen Aiken
“I’m a ’70s guy,” jokes painter and photographer Stephen Aiken as he tours the upper level of 230A Main St. in Wellfleet (formerly Gaa Gallery) where he has installed over a dozen oil paintings inspired by sound, seasonal shifts, street banners, and the general pleasures of the world as he observes them. The exhibition will open with a reception on Saturday, Oct. 1 from 6 to 9 p.m.
The show is a retrospective of sorts for the artist, who began his career in a downtown New York City loft over 40 years ago. Many of the works have been continually reworked and adjusted in his Wellfleet studio over the decades.
In a series of paintings titled Fall, Summer, and Winter, Aiken uses atmospheric color and tone to communicate the temperature, mood, and memories of landscape throughout the seasons. He describes another series of vertical abstract paintings on panel as a “study on sound.” And his newest series, “Ensign and Paradigm,” was inspired by Mexican cut paper banners, or papel picado, used as decoration for celebrations.
The lower level of the gallery also serves as Aiken’s temporary workspace and is filled with colorful ephemera from his days as a photographer in New York, where his subjects included Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, and Joseph Beuys. These photos and their accompanying stories are the subject of his book Artists in Residence: Downtown New York in the ’70s, forthcoming from Letter 16 Press. —Kirsten Andersen