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Pilgrim Monument, line drawing by Ewa Nogiec
My Provincetown - by Richard Baker


 




People and spaces. One house with two roofs sits on the bay, the harbor. Nanno de Groot, Gandy Brody, Robert Beauchamp, Bob Thompson, Elvin Jones, Pat Hearn, John Waters╝just a handful of the many who■ve sipped at the view, been warmed by its stove, dipped into the surf, or had a nip of armagnac. I painted there in the late eighties, early nineties.

A sea bass struggles in a blackback's beak, the gull brings it ashore. Pat rushes out of the house, her studio screen door slams with such force ═ BANG! ═ I nearly fall out of my chair, knocking my brushes to the floor. Pat chases the gull and grabs the fish. "Richard! Richard! Look what I have for you to paint. Its colors are so beautiful, so alive you can't get "em any fresher!" While painting the bass, it truly does come alive, leaps off the table, flops across the floor, gills heaving, and then it dies. But it doesn■t; it leaps dramatically three more times within the next two hours. I was consumed by moral anguish (is it really dead now? Should I put it back in the bay? Should I kill it?). Finally Paul Bowen comes round looking for Pat. I prevail upon his expertise as a fisherman and he puts my dilemma to rest. Later, Pat de Groot cooks the bass with ingredients from her garden and we dine.

Was it one hundred or two hundred tulip bulbs Pat planted that year? "Black" tulips, French tulips, orange, white, red, plain ones, fancy ones, short ones, ones with long stems and short flowers--more tulips than I had paint for!

Nanno's tubes of Cadmium Red Purple. Freshly dropped bird found along the roadside. Pat de Groot brings its warm body back to my second-floor studio. Helen Wilson, no stranger to this house, has this painting now. Out in her kayak (in those days, her floating studio), Pat de Groot spies tinkers in a gill net: sunlight flashing off their gleaming bodies like smears of glistening oil pigment. This painting once belonged to Berta Walker and now hangs at FAWC. Seaweed, horse manure. Tending compost. Poppies, peonies, lilies, and clematis. Water, deck, house, fertile land. Spaces and people. One house.


--Richard Baker

I am Provincetown, vertical line for our website

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Fishing Boat line drawing by Ewa Nogiec

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