About the Exhibition
This March, join us in celebrating 100 years of the Beachcombers Club, a group of artists that has helped sustain the vitality of the Provincetown’s artistic community. Formed in 1916, the Beachcombers club sought to both socially unite the many formal and informal associations of art teachers and students in Provincetown and to serve the community as a whole.
The exhibition will feature over 40 works by early members of the Beachcombers Club, many of whom were founding members and artists of the Provincetown Art Association. A catalogue will be available for purchase in the PAAM store. The opening for this exhibition is a potluck: guests are asked to bring a dish large enough to share with 6 people or a $7 donation.
The Early Artists of the Beachcombers
One hundred years ago, Provincetown saw an influx of American artists who had been living abroad and were repatriated by the war in Europe. In the years around 1916, those who “discovered” Provincetown encountered an already thriving community of artists. Since the 1870s, Provincetown had been accessible by train and artists had begun to spend the summers there. They were drawn to the Atlantic fishing port with Mediterranean light reflecting off the water that surrounded the town. It had a strong appeal to American artists, many of whom had worked on themes of picturesque peasant “primitivism” in European artist colonies in Brittany, Normandy and the Channel Coast before arriving in Provincetown. Although many historians have emphasized the traditionalist and modernist affiliations that divided the arts community in Provincetown, our focus is on the way that this masculine institution emphasized community and connections.
During the first 60 years of the Beachcombers, Provincetown became an artistic center on the very edge of the land. As one of the earliest American art colonies, continuous to the present, this was a place where ideas from elsewhere collided and artistic synthesis occurred, producing new, vigorous strains. As the community of artists grew, collaborators, friends and rivals gathered in many casual and more formalized groups and clubs. They mounted increasing exhibitions and summer spectacles. In Provincetown in the early 20th century, the newly formed organizations of the Beachcombers Club, the Provincetown Art Association and many smaller social, artistic and creative collectives— from the festive and ephemeral to the established and permanent— were at the heart of the artistic community. This centennial exhibition emphasizes the continuity of interests across generations of Beachcombers, including portraits that attest to camaraderie and friendship, studio works, cartoons, sculptures, bohemian posters from social events, and landscape and town views that frame this place at land’s end.