There was a favorite poster on dorm room walls in the late‘70s, with a photograph of a barelegged man, his back to the camera, holdingopen his raincoat in front of a nude statue. The cheeky tagline of the Michael Ryersonimage, Expose yourself to art, reflected the delight and surprise – the “Aha!”experience – that art offers in everyday life. (The “flasher” in the photo wasBud Clark, who later was elected mayor of Portland, Ore. But that’s a tale foranother day.)
Art, especially public art, makes us look at thingsdifferently. So in true creative style, Provincetown infuses even its nature conservationareas with the works of 100 artists during Appearances, a green arts festivalrunning from April 15 to 24.
I lucked into this cultural surprise when I was hunting downa humble geocache in the Shank Painter Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, one ofProvincetown Conservation Trust’s newest preserves. The land itself is notablefor being home to rare dragon’s mouth orchids and fruited sedge, plants thatgrow in the “quaking bog” ecosystem. Before I got to the swampy bogs, or eventhe sandy overlook with a panoramic view of the marshy inlets, I encounteredsome drawings – natural images, like bugs, fish and human body parts – affixedto trees. Around the bend, a giraffe-like sculpture of branches loomed from the hillside. And bordering the ground-zero area of the cache was ahandful of twig ladders rising from the sand.
I came for a geocache. I found not only a gem of a conservationarea, but also an outdoor art gallery.
Another new Ptown cache is set against the artistry of CapeCod Bay and Provincetown Harbor. The Harbor View cache provides public accessto the area’s own beauty, seemingly removed from the glitz of galleries and exotica just upCommercial Street.
Whether it’s a tiny beach tucked in a corner of town or aconservation area brimming with natural and human-made surprises, there’salways something in Provincetown that makes you look at the world differently.Expose yourself to it.
Images, from top:
Shank Painter Pondcreature
Ladders in the sand
Eyes and Ears