Christine Ernst Laughs Through the Pain
Poet, storyteller, and metal artist Christine Ernst started writing more than two decades ago to cope with a cancer diagnosis she received when she was a 34-year-old single mom. “It was a way to explain scary stuff to myself so I could understand it,” she says. Ernst will appear at Wellfleet Preservation Hall (335 Main St.) on Friday, Sept. 15 for the latest in her series of one-woman shows, which she describes as 80 minutes of storytelling and jokes with a new theme: “Bite Me.”
Ernst also performs as the stage persona “Fat Ass Cancer Bitch.”
“My neighbor got mad at me five years after I had cancer, and she called me a fat ass cancer bitch,” says Ernst, “which was sort of shocking because I was all done with cancer and I didn’t have a fat ass at the time.” The neighbor, whose Great Dane had pooped in Ernst’s yard, had discovered the parcel deposited back on her own driveway — with the help of a snow shovel, says Ernst, who found and returned the poop while mowing her lawn.
It was a during a time after her cancer experience when Ernst was still being called a survivor and treated with sensitivity: “I took ‘fat ass cancer bitch’ as a nifty brand,” she says, and promptly began printing it on magnets, bumper stickers, and beer koozies.
Now 57, Ernst has evolved and so has her show. What began as “a commentary on cancer in my body as a young woman,” she says, “has turned into a commentary on being a human woman who’s aging in society,” with overarching themes like menopause, marriage, and politics.
Always, though, the show has served an internal purpose. “I find this is a good way to manage anger that I seem to have been born with,” says Ernst. A woman of many trades, she also runs an all-female virtual “writing gym” and owns and operates Spoon & Hammer Studio, where she transforms silverware into earrings and bracelets.
Ernst has lately been running workshops at her studio for grieving mothers, who hammer the names of their children who have died into pieces of metal. That endeavor is closely tied to her shows. Both, Ernst says, are “a way of truth-telling, a way of making something painful into something legible or coherent.”
Ernst says she will begin her Wellfleet show wearing a hot dog costume, and that attendees will leave with a “Fat Ass Cancer Bitch” magnet and “at least” one Oreo cookie. Tickets are $20 at wellfleetpreservationhall.org. —Sophie Mann-Shafir
Bodies and Memories at Alden Gallery
To anyone familiar with Jane Paradise’s photographs of Provincetown dune shacks or her ongoing project documenting her husband’s experience with Alzheimer’s, it’s something of an understatement to say that her current show at Alden Gallery (423 Commercial St., Provincetown) will come as a surprise.
“The Swim” is a series of photographs Paradise took of members of a gay nude swimming club in London 20 years ago. “I was an American woman in London taking a photography course, and one of my assignments was to capture a group of people,” says Paradise in a statement. “I knew few people in the city, but I had a friend who knew a member of a private gay nude male swimming club. Every Saturday night, a group of 50 or so men met at a community pool after hours and would swim serious laps in the nude. Seven of the men agreed to be part of my project, and I photographed them over many Saturday nights at the pool before other club members joined in, and often joined the group later for a couple of pints to show them the results of the previous week’s photo shoot.”
Far from being voyeuristic, Paradise’s photographs are both serenely detached in their perspective and intimate in their details. Bodies splash and blur across the water and tiled surfaces, awash in shades of blue. The overall effect is dreamlike, almost hallucinatory, as if Paradise somehow captured a series of apparitions instead of the emphatically human bodies of her subjects and drinking companions.
The exhibition, which opens on Friday, Sept. 15, will be on view concurrently with a show of new work by painter Cathleen Daley until Sept. 28. See aldengallery.com for information. —John D’Addario
A Group Show Creates an ‘Autumn Evolution’
The works on view in “Autumn Evolution,” a group show of contemporary art at the Mary Heaton Vorse house (466 Commercial St.), reach across media, generations, and geographic regions. But Provincetown looms large in all of them. The show, which is a collaboration between Boston-based LaMontagne Gallery and the Provincetown Arts Society, will open with a reception on Friday, Sept. 16, at 5 p.m.
Gallery owner Russell LaMontagne, whose family has roots in Provincetown’s West End, describes the exhibition as an integration of contemporary movements with the history of Provincetown. He organized the show with Gene Tartaglia, curator of exhibitions at the Arts Society.
Artists with local connections include Bill Evaul, whose woodcut prints pay homage to the Provincetown tradition of white-line prints. His imagery is both local, as in pieces depicting sailboats in the harbor and an artist in his studio, and urban, through pictures of the New York skyline. The rhythmic upward thrusts of the skyscrapers recall images of ships at sea.
Local artist and mason Frankie Rice is represented by a pair of photographs and sculptures displayed outdoors. The nimble, abstract form of Untitled 2023 belies the heaviness of Rice’s materials: cast concrete and steel. In Black Beauty, Rice carves an arch, a form central to his oeuvre, into a raw hunk of granite. Jason Middlebrook’s paintings on cross-sections of logs embody similar contrasts of physicality and refinement.
Artists with roots in Boston’s creative community are also well represented in the show. Marlon Forrester’s large-format painting StJah23 recalls religious iconography. But the vibe here is playful, with its integration of industrial imagery and looping patterns covering the surface. Likewise, Sean Downey mixes different visual languages in his riffs on the still life tradition. In Perpetual Novice, observed reality and virtual reality coalesce into a painting that feels both familiar and completely off-kilter.
One of the things Tartaglia says he enjoyed most about working on this show was exploring generational ties among artists. Tabitha Vevers and her late father, Tony Vevers, are both represented: Tony’s soft-focus figurative paintings of familiar scenes, like a group picnicking, contrast with Tabitha’s tightly focused and detailed images that feel more visionary and otherworldly. Other artists in the show are Daniel Ranalli, Esteban del Valle, Jeff Perrot, Angel Fraleigh, Oscar Morel, Erik Benson, Isabelle Higgins, Nuno DeCampos, Steve Locke, Crystal Lacouture, Sean Downey, Mike Wetzel, Shay Kun, Peter Hutchinson, Rosie Ronauro, and Joe Wardwell.
The exhibition is open by appointment until Oct. 15. An RSVP at the Provincetown Arts Society website is required to attend the opening. See provincetownartssociety.com for information. —Abraham Storer
A Musical Journey from Kenya to Payomet
Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, singer-songwriter Ondara was fascinated by American rock music. “Something about it was very personal,” he says. “It felt like taking a ship to a world far, far away where things were great and better and perfect.” Later in his childhood, he became interested in folk musicians like Bob Dylan. At 21, Ondara says the pull toward folk and rock music led him to emigrate to Minnesota.
It was there that Ondara cultivated his technical music skills and personal style. “It’s mature,” he says of his music. “It’s representative of who I am now. I like to think of myself as being on some kind of path of spiritual maturation. I hope my records represent that growth over time.” In an NPR Tiny Desk Concert video produced in 2020, Ondara plays the song “Lebanon” from his debut album Tales From America. The simplicity of the instrumentation allows Ondara to convey deep emotion with just the timbre of his voice. His American folk music inspiration is clear, but the music is still uniquely his own.
Ondara has released three albums. On Spanish Villager No. 3, the latest, he embodies a character, the Spanish Villager. “The character was born out of the need to separate art from the artist,” Ondara says. In the midst of his recording and performing success, Ondara says he was having difficulty mentally navigating his individual and public status. Embodying a different person in Spanish Villager No. 3 allowed him to feel at home in his own body.
Ondara will play songs from all three of his records in his concert at Payomet Performing Arts Center (29 Old Dewline Road, North Truro) on Saturday, Sept. 16, 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $25 to $40 at payomet.org. —Eve Samaha
A Weekend of Truro Treasures
A history talk, pickleball and corn hole tournaments, food and art fairs, and an antique car show are among the events on the schedule for the three-day Truro Treasures weekend from Friday, Sept. 15 to Sunday, Sept. 17 at the Highland House Museum, Truro Central School, and other venues around town.
The tradition began in 1992 as a benefit led by Betty Groom and Boo Houstoun to raise funds for saving the Highland Lighthouse and to promote local pride and interest in Truro’s civic and cultural institutions. The nonprofit Truro Treasures organization is currently led by president Steven Roderick and vice president Kristen Roberts.
This year’s festivities begin on Friday with a “Pickle at the Pamet” pickleball tournament at Pamet Yacht Club (7 Yacht Club Road) at 10 a.m. (Registration is closed as of press time.) A presentation on the history of the fishing industry in Pamet Harbor during the 19th century by historian and researcher Tim Richards at Highland House Museum (6 Highland Light Road) at 4 p.m. will be followed by a cocktail party at Edgewood Farm (3 Edgewood Way) featuring live art demonstrations by artists affiliated with Addison Art Gallery in Orleans, at 5:30 p.m.
Signups for the Pamet 5K Fun Run, which starts at Pamet Harbor, begin at 8:15 a.m. on Saturday ($15 registration fee for adults, $10 for runners 13 and under). The Christian Union Church (27 Shore Road) will host a community waffle breakfast at 9 a.m. ($10 adults, $5 children), and the two-day artist fair, flea market, and food court will be open at Truro Central School (317 Rte. 6) on Saturday and Sunday beginning at 10 a.m. Later on Saturday afternoon, the popular “Rock the Block” party, featuring a corn hole tournament ($10 registration fee per team), live music, and family events begins at 3 p.m. on Highland Road.
Events on Sunday begin with a Truro Treasure Hunt hosted by the Truro Historical Society at Highland House Museum at 9 a.m. An antique and classic car show, hosted by John O’Brien, will be at the Truro Community Center (7 Standish Way) beginning at 11 a.m. The weekend winds up with the annual Grape Stomp at Truro Vineyards (11 Shore Road) featuring wine, cocktails, oysters, and music by the Dirty Water Dance Band, beginning at 2 p.m.