Another Jewel In Chatham’s Crown

Away out here they have a name

For rain and wind and fire

The rain is Tess

The fire’s Joe

And they call the wind Maria

 

Outdoors, the wind is blowing a gale. On my walk today, I had to lean into the wind to keep moving. Of course, my way was made easier by the knowledge that, on the way back, I would be blown home. As I walked along, I started humming, and then singing, an old song. One of my old favorites. As a lifelong lover of music, I admit to having hundreds of favorites.

“They Call the Wind Maria” was the most popular song from the Broadway Musical “Paint Your Wagon” written by Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe in 1951. The musical had a pretty good run on Broadway and was much later made into a movie starring Lee Marvin. As you know, Lerner and Loewe were just warming up, and in 1956, they wrote their masterpiece, the huge hit musical, “My Fair Lady.”

Well, today certainly was Maria’s day, and the fierce wind is what I will remember.

I have been writing about Chatham each month in The Chronicle since 2009, but somehow have never written an article about the Creative Arts Center. The Creative Arts Center is located at 154 Crowell Rd. and is a hub of artistic activity. I called Angela Mault, the executive director, to set up an appointment to talk about the Center. Angela was a gracious hostess and we toured the building up and down. The tour was an eye-opener, to say the least. I had been to the gallery section of the Center many times, but had no idea what else was going on in the building. There is so much more, and the building, which the Creative Arts Center owns, is much more spacious than you would imagine.

There is the gallery space with an exhibition of paintings created by the Center’s members. I was quite impressed with the excellence of the work displayed. Angela explained that the Center sponsored weekly classes all winter long in every imaginable discipline. An interested party can sign up for six-week classes and the tuition is very reasonable. The instruction space at the Center is busy every day, mornings, afternoons, and even some nights.

And for those more advanced, who want to work with well-known artists, there are the workshops which take place primarily in the shoulder seasons, April to June and September to late October. These workshops are conducted by nationally famous artists from all over the United States. Again, the tuition for these workshops is reasonable considering the distinguished artists conducting the sessions. These workshops last between two and four days and are hands-on with the artist giving instruction and making constructive comments on the student’s work. The workshops offer a phenomenal opportunity for local people to learn with the best.

Angela spoke of one upcoming workshop in particular. Mary Whyte was the 2016 Gold Medal Award recipient from the Portrait Society of America and will be conducting a workshop in 2018. Mary lives on John’s Island in South Carolina and is an artist, teacher and author. Her subjects are often the Gullah descendants of coastal Carolina slaves. Angela told me the workshop is drawing great interest and that, at present, there are 100 people on the waiting list.

The next big surprise for me was what you find downstairs at the Center. There is a substantial space for those interested in pottery. It’s a space where members can do their work and also learn at the classes offered by the Center. The Center is about to get a new better kiln. Next, we viewed the area dedicated to metal work and jewelry. Again, for those interested, instruction is offered in metal working, jewelry design and construction.

The students at the Center range from the very young to the surprisingly old. Interest in art is not dependent on age. Angela did say that instruction was very popular with the Cape’s retired population. Lots of interested people put off developing their skills until their retirement years. All are welcome, and beginners can experiment with whatever they choose.

Summer is the busiest season at the Creative Arts Center with so many more people in Chatham. The classes and workshops are scheduled for the fall, winter and spring when space is more available. The Center has a number of ways to participate, all clearly spelled out on their web page. There are varying levels of membership and sponsorship offered. I asked Angela how the Center paid for all of its activities. She said the revenue needed came from a combination of membership dues, tuition from classes and workshops, grants, art sales, advertising and fundraising. The Annual Festival of the Arts held in August in Chase Park is another source of funds. This summer marks the 46th time the Center has sponsored the Festival. And there is an annual Creative Arts Center Gala at the Chatham Bars Inn. This year’s Gala is scheduled for June 27. Angela stressed that the Chatham Bars Inn has been very supportive of the Center through the years.

Angela Mault became executive director in January 2012. Sally Lamson had served in that role for the previous 25 years. There is a board of directors and Chatham resident Bill Bystrom is president. I contacted Bill and told him I was writing an article on the Center. Bill commented that what has impressed him the most during his tenure is the enthusiasm not only of the staff but also the general membership. He went on to say that it is heartening to see the community support for the Creative Arts Center and its programs.

I picked up a schedule of the exhibitions for 2017 and learned that something is planned for every month. Some months have more than one event. In February it was a juried photography contest, and in April it will be an exhibition of work by students of the Center.

I am periodically surprised when I hear that a newcomer to Chatham says they are bored and can’t find anything to do here. My answer, which I don’t always offer, is that they just are not looking very hard. There are so many options to participate in something you love and so many opportunities to volunteer and make life in Chatham and on Cape Cod better for everyone. The possibilities at the Creative Arts Center are many. It is as Angela Mault said “one of the best kept secrets in town.” We are all invited to visit and admission is always free. I thank Angela and Bill for their help with the article.

And, yes, the Creative Arts Center is truly another jewel in Chatham’s crown.