Falmouth Art Center Zoom Talks Focus on Racial Disparities, Spirituality, Modernism, Climate Change

Written by Laura M. Reckford

Murray Whyte, art critic for The Boston Globe, will give an art talk on Zoom on Tuesday about the artist Edward Mitchell Bannister and his influence on Providence.

FALMOUTH – Four upcoming Zoom talks at Falmouth Art Center seek to expand the conversation around themes currently in the news.

Boston Globe art critic Murray Whyte called his research into 19th century artist Edward Mitchell Bannister, “a revelation.” Art historian Elaine King thinks people are in need of some spiritual comfort. Professor Carol Scollans wants to show how modernism affected visual arts in New England. And artist Jay Critchley, the well-known provocateur from Provincetown, doesn’t want people to forget about climate change in the midst of the pandemic.

All four will be featured speakers this month in the Falmouth Art Center’s upcoming reimagining of their annual spring fundraiser, You ART What You Eat. 

The art talks will take place at 6:30pm on Zoom on four days in the month of April: Tuesday April 6 for Murray Whyte; Wednesday, April 14 for Carol Scollans; Tuesday, April 20 for Elaine King; and Thursday, April 29 for Jay Critchley. 

Helen Frankenthaler’s “Cool Summer,” painted in Provincetown in 1962 is among the works to be discussed by Carol Scollans.

Tickets—$65 apiece or $150 for all four talks—can be purchased at or by calling the Art Center at 508-540-3304. Funds raised for the talks support the Art Center during what has been a difficult year for arts nonprofits.

Whyte’s talk, called “The Black Painter Who Changed Providence,” explores the significant influence of Edward Mitchell Bannister on Providence, Rhode Island. Whyte’s research on Bannister focused on the artist’s standing as a cultural leader, as a founding board member of the Rhode Island School of Design in 1877 and the driving force in establishing the Providence Art Club in 1880. The Smithsonian American Art Museum holds 100 of Bannister’s works. And yet, Whyte wonders why Bannister is not better known in art circles outside of Providence.

Whyte, an award-winning journalist, came to the Globe from the Toronto Star, where he worked as a features writer, cultural journalist and critic.

Carol Scollans, a professor of art history at the UMass, Boston, will discuss American Modernism in New England art in a Zoom art talk on April 14.

Dr. Scollans, who teaches art history at University of Massachusetts at Boston, will speak on “American Modernism in New England from the 1880s to the 1960s.”

“Modern art in America is defined by a generation of visionary artists  experimenting with conceptions of realism, abstraction and non-representational art,” she said in explaining her talk’s themes. She will discuss New England art colonies from Maine to Cape Cod’s famous art haven: Provincetown, where Helen Frankenthaler, among other famous modernists created work.

Besides her 20 years teaching at UMass, Dr. Scollans is an independent scholar and curator specializing in American art and, in particular, art, artists and collectors from Boston.

When planning her art talk, “Spirituality in Contemporary Art,” Elaine King reflected on these stressful times we are in because of the pandemic and social and political upheavals. “It seems like a good time to look at spirituality in art,” she said.

King, who has a home in Cataumet in the town of Bourne on Cape Cod, clarified that spiritual does not necessarily mean religious. 

“The term ‘spiritual’ refers to a yearning to seek something superior to the self; the desire to search for the source of life and the nature of death, and acknowledgement of elusive forces at work in the universe beyond materialism,” King said in a statement about her talk. Among the artists she will discuss is Emily Cheng, a Chinese-American artist known for her vibrant abstract paintings.

Elaine King will discuss Spirituality in Contemporary Art in a Zoom art talk on April 20.

King has had a fascinating career in the arts, serving as a professor of art history, arts criticism and museum studies at Carnegie Mellon University; an international curator; and executive director of the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati. Her specialty is post-1945 American art and culture.

Artist Jay Critchley, who has made a name for himself in Provincetown with a variety of intriguing projects, will discuss his latest work, “Democracy of the Land: Mobil Warming.”

The project tackles climate change from the perspective of the petroleum and fossil fuel industry, and their undermining of climate science.

Critchley’s banner that shows a reimagining of the Mayflower Compact as a gathering of women signing the document will be on display at the Falmouth Art Center for a couple of weeks close to his art talk.

Artist Jay Critchley of Provincetown takes on climate change and the petroleum industry in his art talk on April 29.

The first 100 people who sign up for the Falmouth Art Center’s art talks will receive a special gift bag from the Art Center containing a piece of pottery and a weaving, made by Falmouth Art Center volunteers.

A twist to this year’s event has a link to area restaurants. For the first 10 years of You ART What You Eat, the event took place at area restaurants with a portion of the restaurant proceeds benefiting the Art Center. As the pandemic continues, eating out at restaurants can still seem problematic for some, so the Art Center is encouraging its patrons to order takeout from a certain restaurant for each night of the art talks. Four restaurants—Bleu in Mashpee, Quicks Hole Tavern in Woods Hole, Osteria La Civetta in Falmouth and Water Street Kitchen in Woods Hole—one assigned to each night of the talks, have created special three-course prix fixe menus. Patrons order and pay the restaurants directly for the meals.

The Falmouth Art Center is free and open to the public daily at 135 Gifford Street in Falmouth.

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About the author

Laura M. Reckford

Laura M. Reckford is co-founder of Cape Cod Wave. She has been a reporter and editor on Cape Cod for more than 20 years in magazines, newspapers and radio. She has also authored numerous Frommer's Travel Guide editions on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

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