Naya Bricher grew up around creative people. Her father is an artist and graphic designer who freelanced — he worked when he could, and he had a kind of freedom. Her mother is an artist, too, but she worked a nine-to-five job and had the luxury of a routine. When Bricher left South Kent, Conn. for a job in Provincetown, she knew she’d found her own way to balance her creative life with something steadying.
Bricher is a painter, the administrative director at the Fine Arts Work Center, and a Zumba instructor.
The Zumba classes — she teaches at Tula Studio in Eastham and at the Provincetown Gym — are her antidote to stress. They “help bring in all those good endorphins and boost my mood.”
She’s not the only artist on the Outer Cape who has a side hustle or two. Andy Jacob, a painter and Wellfleet oysterman, finds that his harvest affords him creative freedom.
Oystering brings in income that helps him support his family, he says. And that has allowed him to think about the value of his paintings differently. He used to underprice his work, he says, feeling the pressure to sell no matter what. Now he can be more patient, selling paintings for what he thinks they’re truly worth.
And working out on the flats provides a break from the intensity of his art projects, Jacob says. “It’s a great balance to be in the studio, then outside in the elements,” he says. “Especially in the winter. If it’s windy, snowy, and freezing,” Jacob says, “you go on a little adventure.”
Jacob grew up in Salem and was in middle school when he started painting. He and his friends used to sneak through chain-link fences to spray paint parked train cars. Jacob still works with spray paint, though now he coats more wood panels and canvases than locomotives.
He’s also an avid surfer. The waves are one reason he moved to the Outer Cape full-time in the early 2000s. They are also one of his favorite subjects to paint.
In his waders, harvesting oysters, Jacob says he feels firmly rooted on planet Earth. But in the studio, he lets his mind wander to Carl Sagan’s theory that, in a universe with countless stars, some must inevitably shine on other planets, and some of those planets must surely support life. Often, Jacob imagines what waves might look like in oceans across the universe.
Polly Burnell, who displays her expressionistic landscape paintings at the Berta Walker Gallery, tunes her life to the seasons. In winter, she hunkers down to spend most of her time painting. During the summer, she’s a full-time manager at the Watermark Inn in Provincetown.
She likes the casual friendliness of the busy season. “You go to an art opening here and meet people that you’d be meeting in New York with sand on their legs, fresh off the beach,” she says.
Paul Rizzo knows how to work every position in a bar. He is also a painter. And when he’s not manning Four Eleven Gallery, where he shows his work, or painting in his studio space at the Commons, he walks dogs around the side streets of Provincetown.
Rizzo came to Provincetown in 2011, captivated by its queer history and quaint architecture. Dog walks provided a quiet contrast to his work at the Atlantic House and the Boatslip. They also became sources of inspiration. Rizzo says he finds himself noticing different views and taking reference photos when he walks dogs.
One particular house in the East End kept catching his eye last year. One of My Favorites (Dreamhouse) hung in Rizzo’s solo show at Four Eleven last September and found a home with his Commons studio-mate Donna Pomponio. His portraits of houses on Cudworth, Commercial, and Bradford streets can be seen at Four Eleven.
Liz Carney, the owner of Four Eleven Gallery, knows that cobbling together jobs is a reality for many artists. She says she has dreamed of putting together a show called “Day Jobs” in which she would show works such as the ink drawings that abstract painter Janine Evers made on Post-it notes while she worked as a secretary.
“Everybody’s doing what they can,” says Carney. But here at the far end of the Cape, no one has to do it alone. “There’s a sense of collective spirit,” she says. “People help each other find jobs. We’re a really good artist community in that way.”