The Art of Their Lives
A current exhibition and upcoming book launch at the Provincetown Commons (46 Bradford St.) illustrate the often unexpected ways in which paintings and the written word inform, reflect, and inspire one another.
Provincetown-based artist Marilyn Massad, who has worked in media including macramé, textile, watercolor, and pastels, will celebrate the opening of an exhibition of her current oil and acrylic paintings at an artist reception on Friday, June 2 at 6 p.m. Her canvases, which are inspired by her travels around the world, are characterized by a broad range of bright colors and a playful use of scale.
Massad’s paintings will be shown in conjunction with the launch of Provincetown- and Columbus, Ga.-based writer Cynthia Newbery Martin’s new novel The Art of Her Life on Tuesday, June 6 at 6 p.m. The book tells the story of a woman’s lifelong relationship with a painting by Henri Matisse and how visual art can transform one’s experience — something that resonated with Massad while she was planning her exhibition.
“When I began to think of my show, I had thoughts of collaborating with another artist,” says Massad in a statement accompanying the show. “At the same time, Cynthia mentioned that for the launch of her upcoming book, she wanted to connect with a visual artist. What an exciting moment!”
Both the artist reception and book launch are free and open to the public, and the exhibition will be on view until June 11. See provincetowncommons.org for more information.
Saltine & Sullivan Kick Off the Season
Among Provincetown’s many mysteries is that while they almost always share equal billing, Saltine & Sullivan are never seen in the same place at the same time. But they’ll both be keeping busy before audiences in different projects around town this month.
Cody Sullivan — the more low-key partner — will be performing every Monday evening starting June 5 at 7:30 at the Gifford House (9 Carver St., Provincetown) in Cody Plays, described as “a weekly experiment in creating a play in a day.” Sullivan will invite new guests each week to mount an original play — including set, script, and score — which will be performed live in a single production in the Piano Lounge of the Gifford House. Artist Pete Hocking will be the first guest collaborator on June 5, followed by writer Chris Castellani on June 12 and the crew from Provincetown’s Pop + Dutch on June 19. Admission is by donation, and drinks and small bites will be available for purchase.
On the other side of town, Sullivan’s “godmother,” Saltine — the more public face of their partnership — will be recording live episodes of her podcast-radio show Eggs Isle on Friday, June 30 at WOMR (494 Commercial St., Provincetown), following a sold-out season-opening live recording at Twenty Summers on May 30. The production, described as “a radio show about the rejects of Provincetown who get sent to a small island off the coast to live in happiness after losing their housing on the mainland,” takes its inspiration from public radio classics like A Prairie Home Companion and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and tells its stories in Saltine’s inimitable “queermodern” voice. The recordings take place in the Davis Space at WOMR, and tickets are $20. See oneggsisle.com for more information.
¡Fiesta Latina! Celebrates New Sounds for the Cape
A new music festival at Payomet — the first of its kind on the Cape — will celebrate the history, diversity, and future of Latin American music.
¡Fiesta Latina! takes place at the Payomet Performing Art Center (29 Old Dewline Road, North Truro) on Saturday, June 3, 7 p.m. Three artists will perform: Mireya Ramos, a Latin Grammy award-winning vocalist, songwriter, and violinist who was raised in Puerto Rico; Jorge Glem, from Venezuela, who also boasts a Latin Grammy for his musicianship on the Venezuelan cuatro, an instrument similar in shape to the ukulele; and OKAN, a Juno Award-winning women-led ensemble from Canada featuring musicians originally from Cuba. The Dario Acosta Teich Quintet will support all artists as a house band.
Eleanor Dubinsky, who has curated and produced the festival with Teich, says she’s excited about what this festival means for Cape Cod audiences. “It’s part of Payomet’s investment in diversifying and expanding the kind of music that reaches Cape Cod,” she says.
OKAN will also visit Provincetown IB Schools for an all-school assembly and will work closely with the youngest students.
“This music is for the whole family,” Dubinsky says. “Kids love to dance, and this will be very danceable. I know these artists, and I know what they can do.”
Tickets are $35 to $55, with students and teachers admitted free. See payomet.org for information. —Dorothea Samaha
Provincetown Pride Is Prouder Than Ever
When the organizers of the first Gay Pride celebration assembled on June 28, 1970 for what was then called Christopher Street Liberation Day to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots, they likely did not imagine the event would eventually be held in hundreds of cities on every continent. But for decades, Provincetown wasn’t one of them. In a town where one could be proud of being gay every day, the reasoning went, why limit it to just one day a year?
That changed in 2018 when the Provincetown Business Guild launched the first “official” Provincetown Pride celebration to coincide with the beginning of worldwide LGBTQ Pride Month in June. But PBG Associate Director Trevor Pittinger says it wasn’t exactly the first Pride event the town had seen. “There have been countless celebrations of Pride marking Provincetown’s queer history,” said Pittinger. “Pride in Provincetown is woven with the threads of our shared histories and commemorates the work that’s come before us to help power the LGBTQ movement forward, locally and beyond.”
This year’s Pride spans the weekend from Thursday, June 1 to Sunday, June 4. Among the noteworthy events is the opening of the Provincetown Pride Center in the PBG’s new offices at 115 Bradford St., planned to be a gathering and exhibition space for shows spotlighting queer history and work by emerging artists. The center’s grand opening party on Thursday, June 1 at 5 p.m. celebrates Flag in the Map, an exhibition of photographs and stories about the Rainbow Flag, the universal symbol of LGBTQ community.
On Friday, the Bay State Cruise Company hosts a special Pride edition ferry crossing departing from Boston at 5:30 p.m. Saturday’s annual rally at town hall has been expanded to a Pride Festival starting at 1 p.m., followed by a festive “Sashay to Tea” at the Boatslip at 4 p.m. Town hall will host the second annual Queer Comedy Showcase on Saturday night.
In lieu of a traditional Pride parade on Sunday, the Feet Over Front Street 5K run-walk (honoring the original name of Commercial Street) starts at the Harbor Hotel and makes its way to the Provincetown Inn in the West End. A new event this year called “Babes and Bois” — described as “a strawberry full moon celebration for the queer and Sapphically-inclined” — takes place at Gifford House’s Porch Bar on Sunday afternoon starting at 2 p.m., and evening dance parties shake up the A-House and Red Room on Friday and Saturday nights.
All of which is a reminder that, after five decades, Provincetown finally has a Pride celebration to call its very own. See ptown.org for a complete schedule of events. —John D’Addario
Four Weeks, Four Shows, Four Stars
For Provincetown Theater’s David Drake, who inaugurated 4-Star Solo Festival during his first season as artistic director of the theater in 2018, the series continues a longstanding Provincetown theatrical tradition. “Provincetown has a century-long history of giving space to solo performers,” says Drake. “From standup comics to concert artists to drag queens, the community and folks who visit our town expect and revere this form of singular entertainment. So, in producing the festival I’m simply extending that platform to include playwright and performers with narrative-oriented shows.”
The series begins on Wednesday, June 7 with That Dorothy Parker by Carol Lempert, whose portrayal of the legendarily acerbic writer and doyenne of the Algonquin Round Table was acclaimed by the New York Times and Backstage magazine during its premiere run in 2013. In On Broadway … and More, opening June 14, Obie award-winner James Jackson Jr. continues the momentum of his recent star turn in Broadway’s A Strange Loop with a show exploring his musical roots, which range from Nina Simone to Lady Gaga. On June 21, Sam Hamashima’s Banana uses a theatrical standup format to examine racial, sexual, and social identities. And Jody Christopherson brings her lauded “mono-concert,” St. Kilda — a supernatural horror story performed in almost complete darkness — to the stage on June 28.
Drake says that even the ticket prices and schedule of the festival were planned with Provincetown audiences in mind. “We kept the ticket prices lower and gave the festival weekday performances in order to better appeal to our local and year-round theatergoers at the beginning of the season, when folks might not be as flush and are more flexible with work schedules,” he says. “Plus, I saw this June festival programming as a kind of gateway into the summer fare that P’town is renowned for during the high season of July and August.”
Each production runs for three evenings from Wednesday to Friday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 at the Provincetown Theater box office or online at provincetowntheater.org. —John D’Addario
Remembering the UpStairs Lounge
On June 24, 1973, an arson attack at the UpStairs Lounge in the French Quarter of New Orleans claimed the lives of 32 people. Until the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. in 2016, it was the deadliest attack on a gay club in U.S. history. Because of the homophobic mores of the time, many of the victims were denied church burials, and to this day no one has ever been charged for the crime (the prime suspect, a gay man who had been ejected from the club earlier that day, killed himself the following year). The case was officially closed as unsolved in 1980 and, save for a plaque in the sidewalk outside the building where the bar was located, it was largely forgotten for many years.
The tragedy, which has since been the subject of two books, several documentaries and podcasts, two musical stage productions, and a landmark 2018 multimedia art installation by artist Skylar Fein at the New Orleans Museum of Art, will be commemorated in an event marking its 50th anniversary this month at the Provincetown Brewing Co. (141 Bradford St.) on Saturday, June 3 at 5 p.m.
The event will launch The Fire Upstairs, a new podcast about the attack that will premiere later in June and will feature readings from the 2011 book Let the Faggots Burn by Johnny Townsend (which was also the subject of a three-week reading series at the Provincetown Brewing Co. over the past month). It will also include tricycle races and an all-you-care-to-drink beer bust — both of which were regular happenings at the original UpStairs Lounge — and a singalong of “United We Stand” to commemorate the victims of the attack and the ongoing resilience of the gay community.