Sea Change

View From Boris's I, Russell Steven Powell acrylic on canvas, 20x16

View From Boris’s I, acrylic on canvas, 20×16

MOST DAYS had (at least) two distinct types of weather, strong winds and whitecaps in the morning calming to a cloudless sky by mid-afternoon, prelude to a slow, broad sunset. Or the reverse: rose to peach to lemon dawn replaced by rolling banks of seagull clouds before noon.

View From Boris's II, Russell Steven Powell acrylic on canvas, 20x16

View From Boris’s II, acrylic on canvas, 20×16

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Perspectives from a week in Boris’s shack in the Provincetown dunes, May 11 to May 18, 2013.

 
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Vanishing Fruit

Shack Still Life I, Russell Steven Powell acrylic on canvas, 14x11

Shack Still Life I, acrylic on canvas, 14×11

AS THE WEEK PROGRESSED, the fruit began to vanish before our eyes.

Shack Still Life II, Russell Steven Powell acrylic on canvas, 20x16

Shack Still Life II, acrylic on canvas, 20×16

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Perspectives from a week in Boris’s shack in the Provincetown dunes, May 11 to May 18, 2013.

Single-Serving Scream

Untitled, Russell Steven Powell acrylic on canvas, 11x14

Untitled, acrylic on canvas, 11×14

FEW RECENT INVENTIONS are as frivolous and wasteful as the single-serving coffee maker. One brand we found washed up on the beach far away from human traffic along the outer banks of the Cape Cod National Seashore last week had five parts: the outer plastic shell, the peel-away foil lid, and a heavy paper filter sandwiched between two plastic mesh disks. All for a single cup of coffee.

For what? Are we so busy and important that we cannot spare the few extra minutes to brew a cup using one of the myriad conventional coffee machines and systems? Is our fix for caffeine (or simply a hot drink, since many of these are decaffeinated) so urgent, our narcissism so great?

It is no wonder that most of the rest of the world is skeptical or incredulous when Americans preach about air pollution, water quality, endangered species, or climate change. “Seriously?” they ask. “You want us to take responsibility for curbing unneeded garbage and waste when you proliferate senseless products like this?”

You would be doing better by the environment by pitching your single-serving coffee machine into the ocean rather than using it, adding these foul cups to the landscape or landfills one by one, drip by drip.

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Dune View, Russell Steven Powell acrylic on canvas, 11x14

Dune View, acrylic on canvas, 11×14

THE SINGLE-SERVING coffee cup carcasses pale in numbers, of course, next to the empty plastic water bottles glistening along the beach. Aside from the underlying deceit of these things—no safer than most tap water, and astronomically more expensive—the bottles (and plastic bags, another common site on this remote stretch of sand) are deadly to sea turtles and other marine life, which mistake them for jellyfish, part of their natural diet. Once they ingest a plastic bottle, they die.

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Untitled, Russell Steven Powell acrylic on canvas, 14x11

Untitled, acrylic on canvas, 14×11

ON MOTHER’S DAY we found more than one dozen deflated Mylar balloons along a one-mile stretch of beach, and several more scattered across the dunes in the days after. Many of them read “Happy Mother’s Day,” a sad irony given their ultimate destination, littering the surface of Mother Earth.

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 Perspectives from a week in Boris’s shack in the Provincetown dunes, May 11 to May 18, 2013.

Residency in the Dunes

Drift Fence, Dunes, Russell Steven Powell oil on canvas, 20x16

Drift Fence, Dunes, oil on canvas, 20×16

I AM PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE that I have been awarded a summer residency in a dune shack by the Outer Cape Artists in Residence Consortium (OCARC). OCARC awards six two-week residencies each year in the Margo-Gelb shack, from May to October. The one-room shack, which was once owned by painter Boris Margo and his wife, printmaker Jan Gelb, sits on a high dune overlooking the ocean.

OCARC was founded in 1995 in response to a request by the Cape Cod National Seashore to establish a residency program in one of its historic dune shacks at the edge of the Atlantic “back shore” in Provincetown. In the summer of 1995, OCARC was awarded the Margo-Gelb shack by the Seashore, with the first residencies being held in 1996.

OCARC is made up of four nonprofits: the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill, and a dune shack advocacy group, Peaked Hill Trust.

Days before I received this  news, I learned  that my name came up in the annual lottery for a week in a shack (this occurs once every few years; I last “won” a week in the dunes in 2010). I go there for a week this May, a prelude to the residency to follow. Three weeks in less than two months in this rare space is unprecedented for me, and sure to produce some surprises.