The shoulder season on the outer Cape offers a peaceful and relaxed time before the busy summer season kicks off in mid May. Along with warmer days arriving and whales migrating off the coast, the arts scene ramps up in the spring. For art enthusiasts, there are endless things to do in Provincetown during this beautiful time of year. Whether it’s large-scale exhibitions at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, more intimate art show openings in the galleries, opportunities to mingle with artists working under their fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center, or thought-provoking theater and film events, it’s all happening this spring just a few blocks from our Provincetown Bed and Breakfast.

Provincetown artists gallery - photography

Thriving Art on the East End, from PAAM to Smaller Gallery Spaces

As the oldest continuous art colony in the country, creativity takes top billing throughout Provincetown and nowhere is that more true than in the esteemed galleries of PAAM (Provincetown Art Association and Museum). Just a half-mile scenic stroll down Commercial Street. PAAM is a cultural anchor of the East End, a bustling hub of art galleries. Their permanent collection is stunning, showcasing over 4,000 pieces tracing over a century back. Among other early luminaries, don’t miss the iconic oil paintings by Charles Hawthorne, the founder of the Cape Cod School of Art continuing through the abstract expressionists who painted in Provincetown in the mid-20th century and on through cutting-edge modern artists.

Several upcoming shows liven up the spring calendar, starting with a fascinating exhibit running through early May of 2024, “Self-Portraits,” which offers a unique chance to see notable artists’ renderings of themselves, an artistic look in the mirror. Mid-April will usher in the opening of “Forum 49,” which captures a particularly captivating moment in Provincetown’s past when dozens of artists and intellectuals spent the summer of 1949 painting, carousing, and inspiring each other in a gallery space at the corner or Carver and Commercial St (that gallery of old is no longer there, but it’s worth grabbing a latte at Kohi Coffee Co. or a slice to go from Spiritus Pizza, both located near that corner today).

Plan to visit PAAM on a Friday evening, when admission is free after 5 pm, and enjoy the other galleries on the East End as you make your way back, including Gallery 444, which features work from notable local artists like Pat Conant, Wendy Kressey, and up-and-coming painters. Look for 444’s engaging exhibitions and pop-up shows starting in April, with weekly artist receptions on Friday nights from 7-10 pm, perfect timing after your visit to PAAM. Check out our recent blog about the world-class Provincetown gallery scene.

Fellow Fridays and Twenty Summers – Bringing Artists of Every Background to Provincetown and Events for the Public

Every spring marks the celebration of six months of creative work for the invited fellows of the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, to focus on their craft. Starting on Friday, March 22nd, 2024, and again on April 5th and April 19th, join in the festivities (admission is free, but requires online reservation) from 5-8 pm for Fellow Fridays when you can mingle with these artists and get and look at the fruits of their labor. A mix of artistic disciplines, the events feature readings from poets and novelists, screenings of short films by resident filmmakers, and exhibits of new pieces from visual artists. It embodies the Center’s mission to “support artistic freedom and creative connections.”

Another springtime art series kicks off in early May when the non-profit Twenty Summers invites authors, musicians, photographers, and dancers from around the globe to spend the spring and summer in residency. Evening events feature the artists-in-residence alongside other performers, and past speakers have included writers like Margaret Atwood, who gave a reading in 2023. Check their calendar for updated event listings, which usually begin in earnest in May and continue through the summer. The Hawthorne Barn, where these gatherings occur, is a living part of Provincetown’s artistic history, the initial home to the Cape Cod School of Art and later a working studio for painters like Norman Rockwell and Jackson Pollock and authors such as Tennessee Williams and Norman Mailer. It’s a special place where the art of old and new merge, the roots of Provincetown’s artistic heritage growing deeper every year.

Donna Pomponio Provincetown Artists.

Theater and Film Scene – Showcasing the Best Things to Do in Provincetown

Although the visual arts are at the forefront of the cultural conversation in Provincetown, the theater and film world shine, too, with storied stages and screens. The Provincetown Theater, located in the East End a bit further down Bradford Street, brings diverse playwrights, classic productions, and seasoned actors to their intimate 110-seat performance space. The ensemble began as the Provincetown Theater Workshop, an enterprising group of actors in the 1960s who put on plays wherever they could find space around Provincetown, officially becoming the Theater Company 1973. They have made their home in their current space since 2004, putting on several shows every season, taking the stage in early spring and continuing right up through the holidays. The 2024 slate kicks off on May 9th with Tony Kushner’s groundbreaking play about New Yorkers navigating the AIDS crisis in 1980s New York. But before that, the Mosquito Story Slam features on the evenings of March 23rd and April 13th, when audience members share tales on stage, vital storytelling at its best.

The Waters Edge Cinema, an arthouse movie theater a couple blocks west of the marina, is Provincetown’s home base for all things film. Their operation links with the non-profit Provincetown Film Society that hosts the annual Provincetown Film Festival, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in June. In the months leading up to the festival, catch new releases at the theater and special screenings of under-the-radar movies. Their Film Art Series takes place Thursday evenings this spring when one of the PFS organizers leads discussions after screenings of diverse films such as Il Posto, the 1961 black-and-white Italian masterpiece on April 11th, and on April 25th, Close, a tender French coming-of-age film. After your meal, head down Commercial St for delicious fish and chips alongside a craft cocktail at the Canteen, one of our favorite restaurants in Provincetown.

Stay with us and discover firsthand the many artistically engaging things to do in Provincetown this spring!

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