Provincetown artist and poet Georgia Mattison Coxe died on Sept. 4, 2023 in Providence, R.I. She was 92.
Born in Rome, Italy to artist parents, Georgia had art in her genes. Her father, Donald Magnus Mattison, was a painter and director of the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis. Georgia grew up on the grounds of what was then the Indianapolis Art Museum. Her mother, Catherine Morrison Mattison, was a watercolorist. Georgia’s parents met at Yale.
Georgia inherited her aunt Edith Morrison’s East End house on Bradford Street. The family spent summers there, and after her divorce in the 1970s, Georgia moved here year-round.
Georgia’s interest in photography began in her home darkroom when she was in high school. Her early black-and-white work was acclaimed in Indianapolis. In Provincetown, she switched mostly to color photography, recognizing patterns of color and light in everyday objects, particularly in close-ups of flowers.
Georgia’s photographs were shown at the Berta Walker Gallery and exhibited in juried shows sponsored by the Provincetown Art Association. She was an active member of the Visual Arts Cooperative, with shows throughout the Lower Cape.
Georgia’s poetry examined the epiphanies — large and small, personal and universal — of her experiences. She participated in Alan Dugan’s and Keith Althaus’s poetry workshops.
“Georgia’s work had more ups and downs than most work I saw,” said Althaus, “and she was very right in saying something direct about the unpleasant parts of life. She was willing to let life’s difficulties stand and just glare at you.”
The title of her first collection was Tales From My Roads. Her roads included annual trips to the West Coast, first in her beloved Pontiac Firebird and later in a station wagon with “G Wiz” emblazoned on the driver’s side door.
Georgia could be found on many less-traveled highways and byways, finding material for photographs and poems.
Georgia served on the Provincetown Art Commission from 2001 to 2013 and on the Friends of the Provincetown Library board for many years. She was one of the “4 O’Clock-ers” group that met weekly to discuss all aspects of art.
Her costumes for the American Institute of Architects Beaux-Arts Balls in Philadelphia won awards more than once. One year, Georgia created matching cardboard traffic-light costumes, with clear red cellophane for seeing out of the top of the three lights. When she and her husband held hands, the lights lit up, blinking. That costume took first prize.
Her creations for Provincetown’s annual Black and White Ball at town hall also drew acclaim, especially the year she created an ingenious mirror helmet, designed so anyone looking at it saw themselves in refraction rather than seeing the wearer.
Her sense of humor was expressed both in conversation and in comics drawn on her calendar, often created while listening to a story from a family member. The story would be represented by a single impromptu hand-drawn image. Her ability to drop a pun into a conversation was legendary.
For Provincetown, she wanted a T-shirt that said: “I am not a tourist and I DO answer questions!”
Georgia is survived by a daughter, Sal M. Coxe-Dobbs, and husband Doug of Greencastle, Pa.; a son, Donald M. Coxe of Pawtucket, R.I.; granddaughters Emily B. Coxe of Cranston, R.I. and Dakota Yeldham Egloff of Clearwater, Fla.; and grandson Alexander M. Coxe of Norfolk, Va.
A celebration of life will be held at St. Mary of the Harbor in Provincetown on Nov. 4, 2023 at 2:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Friends of the Provincetown Public Library and the Provincetown Council on Aging.