David Chick, "Tennessee Williams" Mixed media on paper, 2014
Festival Visual Artists
In continuity with the century-long artistic tradition in Provincetown, the Tennessee Williams Festival has worked with visual artists over the last decade that include painters, sculptors, performance artists and photographers. You can read about them here.
Miguel Covarrubias, "Hollywood's Malibu Beach" 1933
The 2016 graphics of the Tennessee Williams Festival in Provincetown adapt the pen and ink illustrations of Miguel Covarrubias. Born in Mexico City in 1904, Covarubbias died there in 1957, after creating a memorable body of work that broke through conventions of subject and style.
His father was a Sunday painter, and Miguel, whose lifetime nickname was “El Chamaco” (The Kid), learned by watching him. Miguel graduated from Escuela Nacional Preparatoria at the age of 14, and started producing caricatures and illustrations for texts and training materials published by the Mexican Ministry of Public Education. At 19 he came to New York on a Mexican government scholarship and immediately established a reputation for applying the steam-lined aesthetic of the 1920s and 30s with sensitive insight to personality and social status. The theatricality of the Covarrubias’ approach extended to stage design. In the 1920s he shared a studio in New York with Broadway’s illustrator Al Hirschfield. Alan Fern, former director of the Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. wrote, Covarrubias “seems to us the quintessential commentator of American life in the 1920s.”
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Covarrubias’ artwork and caricatures of influential politicians and artists were featured on the covers of The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. A personal friend of Eugene O’Neill’s, with whom he visited Harlem during its 1920s Renaissance, Covarrubias was introduced to New York bohemian society by Carl Van Vechten, the author, critic, and portrait photographer. A decade later Van Vechten would photograph Tennessee Williams and his circle of friends.
The subjects of Covarrubias’ caricatures – media mogul Arthur Brisbane (depicted hailing the Sphinx), speakeasy hostess Texas Guinan (in an imaginary tête-à-tête with temperance leader Ella Boole), Emily Post (drinking a cup of tea with her feet up) – are no longer as instantly recognizable as they were in the heyday of their fame, but the social critique and wit of Covarrubias simultaneously includes and transcends the particulars, as do the concerns of the plays written by Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams.
Miguel Covarrubias, "Mrs. Ella Boole vs. Miss Texas Guinan" pen and ink, 1932
Permission to include the artwork of Covarrubias for the TW Fest 2016 season has been generously granted by his niece, María Elena Rico Covarrubias, on behalf of the Covarrubias Estate.
Julianne Papetsas, "Desire Under the Elms" Woodcut, ink on paper, 2016
In homage to the graphic work of Miguel Covarrubias, the woodcuts that memorialized the original Eugene O’Neill productions, and Provincetown’s own legacy of woodcuts, the work of Julianne Papetsas has been commissioned to commemorate each of the Festival’s eight events.
Papetsas was born and raised in Provincetown. Now living in Boston, she is the author/illustrator of Seraphine: A Provincetown Story (2011) and The Blue Collar Chronicles and Other Stories (2014). Papetsas exhibits her woodcuts as cards and small framed prints at the annual holiday crafts fairs held at Provincetown Town Hall and the UU Church. To create her art, Papetsas first sketches on paper, than carves a linoleum block, then presses ink to the carved block. First rolling thick paper on top of the wet ink, then pulling the paper off, she creates unique images. Most often black ink on white paper, sometimes the images are colored, using thinned paint added to the block, or applied by hand after the first print has dried.
Notecards by Papetsas will be on display and available for sale at the TW Fest gift shop.
Julianne Papetss, "Marco Millions" Woodcut, ink on paper, 2016