Cowboy junkies make their own brand of music
is it country “New country? Country rock? Folk? Cowboy Junkies’ sound is hard to pin down. In a world where so many acts sound interchangeable — and are designed to appeal to a specific demographic — Cowboy Junkies are practically a genre unto themselves. They will be performing at the Payomet Performing Arts Center in North Truro on Saturday September 24th.
When the Cowboy Junkies released their second album, the trinity session, In 1988 it sounded like nothing else in a popular music landscape dominated by Madonna, Prince and Michael Jackson. There was something revolutionary about them, even if their highest-charting single, “Sweet Jane,” was a cover of a nearly two-decades-old Velvet Underground song. (Lou Reed called it the best cover of it he had ever heard.)
They were also a distillation of some of the alternative musical currents of the time. Tracy Chapman and Sarah McLachlan’s neo-folk vibe was continued – some would say perfected – by singer Margo Timmins, whose voice let you know she’d seen it all and more. The music of Margo’s brothers Michael (on guitar) and Peter (on drums), coupled with Alan Anton’s brooding bass line, took advantage of then-new CD technology, with every streak and thump emerging like ghosts from the perfect stillness of these CDs enable. In hindsight, one could even argue that their windswept acoustic sound helped mark the beginning of the end of ’80s synth-pop and heralded the grungier ’90s that were around the corner.
Earlier this year the band released their 19th studio album, songs of remembrance. Despite having popular success over the past four decades, Cowboy Junkies were never a pop band. Like a handful of other artists – Aimee Mann and Lucinda Williams, to name two other mavericks who have also performed at Payomet – they have set their own rules and pace. And they still sound like no other.
Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased at Payomet.org. – Richard Reading
Sallie Kane wishes you were here
Sallie Kane’s landscape paintings are like postcards from an old friend: intimate in scale and descriptive of a particular place. A selection of her new work will be on view at Captain’s Daughters (384 Commercial St., Provincetown) through the end of October.
The intimacy of Kane’s paintings has something to do with where she makes them: on her kitchen table at home. “I never thought I’d have to rent a studio,” she says. “Everything I need to make my art is out there in the countryside – and right here in my house.”
A self-taught artist, Kane was originally drawn to printmaking until she had an epiphany a few years ago while attending a monotype class. “I suddenly started getting frustrated with all the rules,” she says. “With printmaking, there are certain steps to follow. And I realized the only part I really liked was applying oil pigments to a record.”
After experimenting with watercolor, Kane now works primarily in oil on wood. She calls her pieces “Memory Paintings”. You’ll start with strolls around Provincetown’s beaches and dunes, especially in the off-season. “I like to leave my house very early in the morning, before the sun comes up,” she says. “No one else is around, and you see things no one else sees.”
During these walks, Kane photographs fleeting moments: a flurry of snow on an empty street, the glare of a fiery sunset over the harbor. Kane then makes graphite sketches of the scenes on panels that are sealed before being painted over for the final work.
Like many Outer Cape artists, Kane is fascinated by the ever-changing quality of light. “It’s a cliché to say that,” she says. “But I never get bored. It’s always different outside. Even if I were to paint every day for the rest of my life, I would only capture a fraction of everything I see.” – John D’Addario
Michael Mazur’s “Seaside Studio”
Artist Michael Mazur’s former studio in Provincetown’s East End, where he worked for more than 30 years before his death in 2009, seemed to float at high tide, nestled into the shoreline next to the home and gardens he shared with his wife , the poet Gail Mazur. Working on the water, Mazur created amazing gestural paintings of the sea that are as rooted in the natural world of the Outer Cape as they are mysterious and evocative.
Seaside Studio, on view through October 5 at Albert Merola Gallery (424 Commercial St., Provincetown), is a collection of Mazur’s paintings, mixed media pieces, drawings and monotypes from the early years that are rich in autumn colors and ethereal in form and line. The works show the tidal dance of the bay in all its characteristic whirlpool.
Rocks are scattered and interconnected along the coast; under water they are represented as jewels. Each piece in the series is a version of the infinite variations of the sea and its contents. Mazur’s multi-layered color wash technique creates works that are enduring records of transient perfection.
Splitting his time between Provincetown and Cambridge, Mazur made profound contributions to contemporary art. His work is part of many important collections, including the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. He taught printmaking at Harvard for 20 years and is a touchstone for many artists who have lived and worked in Provincetown.
“He had a relentless work ethic,” says gallery owner Albert Merola. “Never without a pencil or pen and paper, he drew until the last days of his life. Mike was a force in the Provincetown arts scene, and his presence is still missed to this day. He was an inspiration to all of us.” – Kirsten Anderson
Floating with Jay McDermott
Jay McDermott has been working on some of his paintings for years, while others only took shape weeks ago. Fifty of them are on view at the Provincetown Commons (46 Bradford St.) through October 2, with an opening reception on Saturday, September 24 at 5pm
A general dentist who “has been painting seriously since 2000,” McDermott is fascinated by color. His most recent work is a series of nine boats in which bold hues and expansive shapes make for a series of lively and deliberately flat nautical scenes. McDermott is drawn to boats for their combination of simplicity and fun, and sees them as ideal subjects for their variety.
A bright green sky and blue-green sea in one painting, followed by gray cloud cover and a brilliant royal blue ocean in another nearby, make McDermott’s boats appear to move together, captured in clearly toned snapshots as they head toward a common goal.
McDermott likes to work in series, he says, because every boat “has its own voice, and then it needs someone to talk to.” While the boat series is characterized by its cheerful charm, McDermott’s exhibition also shows his excursions into interpretive abstraction. tide rising, A larger work, which he describes as “moderately serious undertones,” has been in the works for four years.
Before beginning work on his current show, McDermott and his wife spent time in Santa Fe, where he drew inspiration from the arid western landscape. He was apprenticed to Bailey Bob Bailey early in his painting career and the two still see each other around town occasionally. In Santa Fe, his teacher had him tape his paintbrush to the end of a ruler and draw shapes on the canvas three feet away to loosen up his stroke.
McDermott says it can be difficult to know when a painting is finished. The last painting of the series, mail boat, was only completed three weeks ago. He changed his central color plates several times. He felt content and only tightened the edges when “the colors danced with each other.” – Sophie Mann-Shafir
Jim Youngerman’s surrealistic shadows
If Jim Youngerman’s work looks oddly familiar, it might be because you dreamed it once — or maybe because you remember the 2021 Swim for Life t-shirt, which featured one of his paintings.
A longtime Swim participant (and often one of its leading fundraisers), Youngerman will be showing his work September 23 through Thanksgiving at the Aline Interior Design Studio (101 Route 6A, Orleans). It is his first show in the Cape since the 1990s.
The exhibition showcases the surrealistic shadow play that makes Youngerman’s paintings appear full of echoes, as if many possible compositions were simultaneously flickering across the surface. His Outside-In series began in 2020 as an exploration of on-the-spot housing during the early months of the pandemic, when Youngerman’s isolation in Key West inspired him to reflect on how exploring the coast in solitude is the line between lives blurred outside and inside. In one work, colorful waves move across hanging canvases that act as portholes through which a seabird perches on a bed and a dining room chair floats out to sea.
In contrast, his “Noir” series—appropriately in black and white—shows the city streets filled with reflections of the objects, animals, and people that inhabit them. Shades of gray appear to flicker from all angles simultaneously.
The complexity of Youngerman’s watercolor, ink and pencil compositions conveys the impression of careful planning. But the artist says there is very little “bias” in his paintings. Describing his process, he quotes EL Doctorow: “Writing is like driving in the fog at night. You can only see up to the headlights, but you can go all the way that way.” Similarly, Youngerman says he works one stroke at a time: “If I can put an image on the piece of paper and start corrugating that image , the paintings develop like this – although they look like something else when they are finished. ” – Liz Wood