It’s funny to think of how certain places have the capacity to inspire so many people, when the inspiration it fosters in you feels like such a personal experience. Provincetown, Massachusetts, that colorful and rambunctious village, feels a bit like home to me. My Provincetown is encapsulated in afternoon strolls down Commercial Street, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of tourists and locals alike. It includes sitting on the bayside beach while indulging in delicious ice cream, fudge, or salt water taffy. And morning bike rides along thin cottage lined streets surrounded by the sweet scent of blooming flowers, on the prowl for iced coffee or a ginger-lemon iced tea in the morning. Even my perpetually salted hair, awkward tan lines, and temporarily untarnished joie de vivre are a part of my Provincetown experience.
Being separate from the mainland has seemed to fuel this village’s wild-child tendencies, like a kid free from their parents’ watchful and regulating eye. It’s this incredible uniqueness that draws in romantics like me, artists, writers, anyone with a few screws loose who is capable in finding beauty in the strangest things. Hudson Dean Walker, and art collector, had this to say about Provincetown in 1965, “But as a place to spend the summer I find that Provincetown has the combination of beauty of the works of humanity and nature that makes it a very pleasant place to be.” Walter P. Chrysler, another art collector, describes how Provincetown has resonated with the art community in this instance, “Since the late 19th century Provincetown has attracted painters and writers enamored by the peerless light and picturesque location here. The early marine painters of the picturesque, naturalists depicting provincial characters, the impressionists painting light, the abstract expressionists creating spontaneous forms, have through this whole last century helped establish Provincetown as a painters’ place.” Salvatore Del Deo, an artist who has spent a large portion of his life painting in Ptown, embellishes on the harmony the town fosters between people of all walks of life, being a “wonderful community which had a great sympathy and understanding of the young artist… the fisherman and the painter have been together since 1890 in this town, and that’s quite a unique relationship.”
Another aspect of Provincetown is its friendly character. No one is a stranger in this place. One random night, my friends and I dropped in at the Crown and Anchor. As we stepped on the patio and peered into the place, it seemed like the whole bar was amassed around the piano, its player conducting the crowd and engaging everyone in song. Conversation with a local sparks so easily. Another time, I was sitting with my friend outside of café, it was around 9 pm on July 4th, and we had decided to treat ourselves to something sweet. As I picked up my fork and dug it into the tres leches in front of me, a very friendly man at the table right next to us asked me what was the glorious looking thing I had on my plate in front of me. Alex Sáenz, the chef at Ten Tables knows exactly what I’m talking about, “The beauty of the people—I’ve met some of the kindest people, who I’ll call my friends for life…”
Here is a portrait an amazing place, at once a fishing village and an artist community. Provincetown seems to welcome anyone who wanders into its territory, it is quite far from anything else after all, what can it do but be as hospitable and entertaining as it is?