June 3–September 28, 2008
The constant change and unpredictability of the sea attracted photographer Joel Meyerowitz to Cape Cod and the city of Provincetown, Massachusetts, in the mid-1970s. After beginning his artistic career as a street photographer in New York City, Meyerowitz replaced his 35-millimeter with an 8 x 10 view camera and embraced the slower pace of life found on the Cape. The early influence of the photojournalistic snapshot did not entirely dissipate, however. A sense of immediacy and spontaneity emerges through Meyerowitz’s inclusion of boats and shifting tide levels, creating a poetic tale of the languid, ever-changing life of the sea.
This exhibition presents Meyerowitz’s venture on Cape Cod, a portfolio of photographs grouped collectively under the title Bay Sky Porch, published in the late 1970s. In these works, which are drawn from the Palmer’s permanent collection, Meyerowitz documents the changing light and atmospheric conditions, noting the subtle changes, “the book of hours,” inscribed in nature. With the sea as the constant backdrop, Meyerowitz uses objects and structures associated with the human world, including awnings, thin columns, wooden railings, and painted boats, to frame his subject. The framing devices not only create unexpected components in the photographs, but also provide a point of entry for the viewer in an otherwise intangible and enigmatic seascape.