Kadri Brattvet is trying to capture what has drawn countless artists to the Cape Cod area, and particularly Provincetown, Massachusetts. It’s the special quality of the light which has been likened to that of the Mediterranean that reflects off the sea and sand dunes, creating a tranquil beauty. Kadri is at the Viewing Tower at the Province Lands Visiting Center, part of the northern end of the Cape Cod National Seashore, approximately one mile from Provincetown, MA. where we visited this September.
Provincetown, on the tip of Cape Cod, is well known as a resort which attracts gays and lesbians. But its history is even more diverse. The indigenous Nauset tribe had been living in the area thousands of years before the Pilgrims whose arrival officially signaled the demise of their culture.
The Pilgrims, some of the first English settlers on the Atlantic Coast, were fleeing religious persecution in England. In 1620, they arrived in Provincetown Harbour aboard the Mayflower, not in Plymouth as is popularly believed. Of the ships 101 passengers 60% were not Pilgrims but adventurers, tradesmen, and servants. Whaling became important and attracted a lot of Portuguese fishermen, especially in the late 1700’s, and they eventually made up a substantial part of the population. Although there were separate religious and ethnic groups very early on, the interests of the town came first, and made for a certain general acceptance. With the advent of artists and writers flooding into Provincetown in the late 1800’s, the town soon acquired an international reputation for its artistic and literary output. Many naval operations in the area also brought a constant stream of sailors. Add to this the hippies in the 60’s and an ever increasing gay population and of course you have a place like few others.
From the kitsch to the sublime, Provincetown has become a place where beauty and diversity is celebrated! Even the streets and houses are a work of art; everything is a delight to the eye; with the fresh sea air and the uniqueness of the light as the sun reflects off the sea and sand – all unite to form a creative atmosphere. There arises in one a feeling of expectancy; an inner current of quiet excitement is constantly in play, causing you to be in the now in every sense of the word.
Just knowing Provincetown exists is vital – like knowing there actually is a “garden” – a place where beauty can triumph – where equality is more than a dream – where diverse people can live in harmony and heaven, for a time, can come to earth.