EASTHAM — Two new works of art appeared along Route 6 last weekend — a large mural on the façade at the former Nickerson Service Center, and a smaller project on Jersey barriers at the T-Time property. Reactions were varied. Some were delighted, others dismayed, mistaking the bright paintings for unwanted graffiti.
“The point of art is to create a conversation,” said Joey Rugo, who organized the artists and helped arrange for them to have canvases.
The mural at the old gas station is bookended by a pink and purple winking girl by Boston-based artist Merk Aveli and a green-blue turtle by Colombian muralist Gris One. Its middle is more Cape-themed, with seaweed, seagulls, a seahorse, lighthouses, and a coyote. The north-facing side of the building features an enormous seagull with a fish in its mouth, painted by Pete Cosmos of Brooklyn.
Artists Felipe Ortiz, Andrew Jacob, Danny Love, Brian Butler, Cassandra Complex, Teresa Deridarian, Adam O’Day, and Hanimal also contributed.
“People pay tons of money for some of these people to go and mural up their space,” said Rugo.
After trading lodgings at his Rugosa Guest House for works by visiting artists, Rugo said he decided last year to formalize the exchange and create a residency. During this second installment, Rugo said he hosted 15 participants.
“We’re trying to bring in a lot of street artists and different styles of art than what Cape Cod is familiar with,” said Rugo, who also has a gallery and a taco joint in town.
Bruce MacGregor of Brewster has owned the old Nickerson’s since 2015. Rugo said he learned through a mutual friend that Bruce’s daughter, Molly MacGregor, was interested in using the building to display public art. Rugo showed her the work of his residents and she liked it. Her only requirement was to keep the art family friendly. Rugo also said that no lettering was allowed, per town rules. No money was exchanged as part of the agreement between the MacGregors and Rugo, he said.
Bruce MacGregor said that, although he liked the idea of art on his property, he had not yet seen the work and couldn’t offer an opinion on it. “There’s a mural on the side of Marine Specialties in Provincetown, and I like that,” he said.
Brian Butler, who came from Miami to participate in the Rugosa residency, completed a smaller project across the highway on three Jersey barriers at the T-Time property. As a child, Butler visited T-Time when it was still a driving range, he wrote in a post on social media under the name Upper Hand Art.
Economic Development Planner Lauren Barker organized the smaller project with a $4,000 grant from the National Association of Realtors. Barker and the Cape Cod Realtors, who submitted the grant application, asked that the art acknowledge the town’s character. Among the motifs Butler painted on the barriers are a tiger, a hippo, and a pig, based on the plaster animals formerly decorating the miniature golf course at T-Time.
The barriers will remain on the site until the long-range planning process is complete, which will take at least a year and a half, said Barker.
While the works were painted by a participant in the Rugosa residency, Barker said the mural and T-Time artworks are otherwise unrelated. Her goal with the Jersey barrier project is “to draw people into the T-Time site and get them engaged in what we’re trying to do there,” she said. There will be signs providing information about the site and the planning now underway.
Before working on the murals in Eastham, the artists took a printmaking workshop with Vladimir Schuster and had two painting demonstrations with Cynthia and Anne Packard. Last year’s residents painted murals at the Wellfleet Sk8 Park.