To Hell and Back at the Eastham Library
Gregory Williams wants you to go to hell — through art.
Described as a “cheery and brisk” survey of visual depictions of the underworld, Williams’s illustrated talk “Hell: A Tour Through Art History” — which he will present at Eastham Public Library (190 Samoset Road) on Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. — begins with a look at early Middle Eastern and ancient Egyptian notions of the afterlife before delving into how hell was depicted in art from the Renaissance through the 19th century.
Williams, a retired district court judge and lawyer, says he was inspired to develop the talk about 15 years ago as a Halloween-related diversion distinct from his judicial practice. “I studied English and art history in college, and English literature in graduate school, and somehow wound up in law school,” he says. “But hell as an artistic subject has always fascinated me.”
The fantastically detailed and frequently nightmarish work of Hieronymus Bosch (ca. 1450-1516), Williams says, was a “way in” to the subject of his talk. “I’ve always loved Bosch,” he says. “In my legal work, I sometimes felt like I was in a Bosch painting.”
He will discuss other visual interpretations by artists including Jan van Eyck and William Blake, as well as literary descriptions by Dante and Milton. Williams also includes a few works that are “thematically related” in his discussion, like Caravaggio’s bloody 1596-97 portrait of the decapitated Medusa. “It seems like something you would see in hell,” he says.
But Williams’s talk is less a detailed art historical overview of his subject than it is a more personal survey of ideas and images that have caught his interest. He says he is careful to avoid describing his talks as lectures. “I’m not an art historian, I’m a storyteller,” he says. “It’s not in-depth analysis. I keep things on the light side and hope that people will want to learn more on their own.”
The talk, which is sponsored by the Friends of the Eastham Library, is free. See easthamlibrary.org for information.
Marc Kundmann Looks ‘Beneath the Surface’
Marc Kundmann has been capturing the landscapes of the Outer Cape in carefully layered and vividly textured oil, acrylic, and encaustic paintings for more than 25 years. In “Beneath the Surface,” a new exhibition of recent work at Bowersock Gallery (371 Commercial St., Provincetown), Kundmann continues his exploration of the natural world while also turning his attention to some interconnected moments in Provincetown’s cultural history.
Kundmann’s Intermission, Summer 1916, Louise and Charles shows a scene from the premiere of Eugene O’Neill’s play Bound East for Cardiff by the Provincetown Players on Lewis Wharf in the East End on July 28, 1916. The scene is based on a description of the evening in John Taylor Williams’s The Shores of Bohemia: A Cape Cod Story, 1910-1960: “The audience that opening night included the rising journalist Louise Bryant, with her large violet eyes, soft black hair, and high color in a red cape over a white linen dress (her play The Game was on the same bill with O’Neill’s) … Charles Demuth was dressed in a black shirt and purple cummerbund and his companion, Marsden Hartley, in a long blue coat with a gardenia in its buttonhole.” Kundmann’s painting remains faithful to Williams’s account while incorporating the artist’s own details, such as the lipstick Bryant holds in her hand and the almost spectral presence of Demuth, identified by the swath of purple around his waist, in the background.
In some ways, The Flower of the Garden, Mozelle at the Mary Heaton Vorse House can be viewed as a companion piece. Kundmann depicts jazz vocalist Mozelle Andrulot performing in the courtyard of the former home of the arts patron who provided O’Neill and Bryant with the venue to produce their plays more than a hundred years before.
While other paintings in “Beneath the Surface” depict urban scenes and figure studies, Kundmann continues to work in the plein air landscape tradition established by Charles Hawthorne and his acolytes at the Cape Cod School of Art. In particular, he cites artists Robert Henry, Jim Peters, Bert Yarborough, and Richard Baker as formative influences.
Kundmann, whose street-front studio has been a familiar sight on Bradford Street in Provincetown since 2011 and whose work is also shown at the Addison Gallery in Orleans, will conduct a live painting demonstration in the courtyard of Bowersock Gallery from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7 before the opening of his exhibition at 3 p.m. The show is on view until Oct. 18. See bowersockgallery.com for more information.
A New Festival for New Plays
The O’Neill Festival of New Works aims to promote new plays written by Cape Cod playwrights through staged readings of their work. Produced by Provincetown Dramatic Arts, the festival will take place in different venues around Provincetown from Friday, Oct. 6 through Monday, Oct. 9.
The festival is the brainchild of Margaret Van Sant, who is also one of the seven dramatists presenting new work. Other featured playwrights include Alan Frank Cancelino, Meryl Cohn, Jim Dalglish, Susan Lumenello, Lynda Sturner, and Jenne Wason.
Van Sant says that the idea behind the festival was to pair each dramatist with an experienced dramaturg and a director for two rehearsals prior to a staged reading before an audience.
“I wanted to create a program that would go further and fully concentrate on the development of new scripts, give playwrights the opportunity to work with seasoned professionals as directors and dramaturgs, and hopefully secure an audience that would engage with us in discussions about the theater pieces,” says Van Sant. “Also, I hope other theaters will attend and take a look at the great new scripts and consider them for production at their theaters. The whole goal is to produced complex and compelling new theater work and to give it further life and further employment for playwrights.”
Van Sant is the artistic director of Provincetown Dramatic Arts (formerly known as CTEK Arts), which she founded in 2004 with a focus on female artists and community-based play development.
Each play will be presented twice at venues including Red Room, WOMR, and St. Mary of the Harbor. Running times vary, though most plays are about two hours long. Van Sant says that, while actors will be reading from scripts, they will be on stage with minimal blocking to help bring the stories to life.
Tickets for individual performances are $20, and a pass to all readings is $40. See ptowndramaticarts.org for a complete schedule and more information. —James Judd
Going to ‘Gay Church’ with Tessa Skara
Tessa Skara, who is performing their comedy-rock musical Gay Church over Women’s Week at the Post Office Café and Cabaret (303 Commercial St., Provincetown), has a gift for hilariously and succinctly critiquing the intricacies of gay existence. Originally from British Columbia, Skara lives in Brooklyn where they have been workshopping the new material that will now be performed in an hourlong show for the first time.
Skara says the title is not meant to ridicule religion. Rather, it is about the enlightenment of self-acceptance.
“I feel like accepting yourself as a queer person and getting over all our internalized homophobia is a religious experience,” says Skara. “That is the closest thing, as someone who grew up religious and going to church, to my religion.”
Religion plays a central role in Skara’s performance. The show recounts how queer Catholic churches can appear, a feeling Skara says was spurred by a visit to a church in Croatia on a family vacation. Skara says they felt they had never truly been on vacation until visiting Provincetown this summer.
“To be in a queer space that’s a vacation town made me realize how much tension and anxiety I had being on vacation in every other place that I’ve been to,” Skara says. “It feels like such a special little oasis to me.”
It was during that trip to Provincetown that Skara got involved in Women’s Week. After becoming friends with the organizers of Provincetown’s Babes and Bois events, they were introduced to the Post Office Café’s booking manager and were booked for next week’s shows. Skara will also be releasing a full-length album titled Gay and Boring in the coming months and is working on an animated TV series.
Gay Church will be presented on Wednesday, Oct. 11 and Friday, Oct. 13 at 2 p.m. and on Thursday, Oct. 12 at 4 p.m. Tickets are $30 ($40 for V.I.P. seating) at postofficecafe.net. —Charlie Gstalder
Mitchell to Host Washashore Fest
Strolling into the AIDS Memorial Park in New York City, John Cameron Mitchell, a Tony Award winner and film darling, recognizes his friend Perfidia sitting on a bench. Perfidia was the genius hair artist behind Mitchell’s musical film Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The friends catch up for a bit. Mitchell is in the park for a memorial for Arthur Russell, the enigmatic downtown New York music scene legend who died of AIDS in 1992.
Mitchell may live in New York City, but his loyalties lie in Provincetown. Or, as he puts it, “I’m a Provincetown fag, not a Fire Island one.”
With his signature black-and-blond quiff, Mitchell will be serving up both his downtown flair and Outer Cape fidelity as the host of this year’s Washashore Festival, taking place this weekend at the Crown & Anchor (247 Commercial St., Provincetown).
Mitchell will be cohosting with Amber Martin, with whom he has recently been touring in a band called Cassette Roulette. “We’ll do a couple of songs,” he says, at the afterparty on Saturday night at the Crown.
The decision to host the festival was a “no-brainer,” Mitchell says. “Provincetown has a history of queerness and art, so this is just a natural development. We have to get ready to let the festival grow for the next few years.”
This year’s festival is host to several artists of various stylings and backgrounds as well as local talents. Provincetown rapper Drizzy Bravo is performing for the second time at Washashore, on Saturday at 8:30 p.m, followed by Boyfriend.
Bravo started writing in middle school. “I would sit in my room and write rhymes to my favorite songs, pretending that I was featured on them,” he says. “I fell in love with hardcore rap and then female rap. Female rap was the first time I felt seen, the first time I felt empowered. I grew up in the mixtape era and the way Lil Wayne would freestyle on mainstream beats and make them his own inspired me to want to rap and ride a beat.”
Artists Andrew Lenox and Joao Santos are collaborating for a performance on Sunday night at town hall. Lenox DJs in New York and Provincetown. Santos is one of Provincetown’s premier vocalists. —Pat Kearns