Perhaps the most gratifying aspect of Loveland is showcasing the creativity of the people who live in Provincetown. That certainly includes the work of established artists Gail Browne and Larry Collins. But there is a special pleasure in giving the stage to non-professional artists, to everyday people who live here, working in the hardware store, or cleaning houses, or landscaping. The crafts they make at home are magical – knitting, weaving, decorative things – but don’t easily find a home in our many galleries, which focus on the “fine” arts.
Mike Pecowitz, who made the giant paper maché objects currently on display in Loveland’s Thanksgiving windows, is among the best, and I’m filled with thanks to him for the installation. I first met Mike during last summer’s Carnival parade, “Comic Book Capers.” Mike was Aquaman. But I ran after him on Commercial Street because of the gigantic purple, paper maché serpent that was with him: Storm, Aquaman’s trusted sidekick, which was amazing. In a crowd of too many store-bought costumes, his costume won Best Original Entry for 2014.
I asked Mike if he’d make something for the shop windows – a turkey and whatever else he wanted. He returned to the shop last week with the turkey, an Indian headdress, a Pilgrim bonnet and hat, and a hatbox! He calls the installation “Olde Provincetown.”
Mike, 49, is from Albany, New York. He has lived in Provincetown for almost twenty years, first working in guesthouses, and for the last eight years as an elder-care dietary aide at Seashore Point/. In the summer, you’ll also find him in the ticket booth for the Dolphin Fleet’s whale watch. Mike is a shy guy, but he participates. He helped start Mates Weekend, and Winthrop Street’s Halloween Hellway. His “Castaway Raft” was named Best Small Float in the 2010 Carnival parade, and his “Charlie Brown Extravaganza” won Most Original Entry in the 2002 Holiday Lighting contest.
What do you love most about Thanksgiving?
My favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is seeing family and friends that I haven’t seen in a while and hearing what everyone is thankful for. And, of course, the traditional food.
How did you get into paper maché?
Last Carnival was “Comic Book Capers,” and I went to the parade as Aquaman, but needed something more to stand out. So I decided to make his trusty sidekick, Storm. I wanted him to be big, but lightweight. So I made a nine-foot purple seahorse from chicken wire and paper maché.
It was my first paper maché project I’ve done and found it came pretty easily. It turned out better than I thought. Now I have Storm hanging on my bedroom wall.
What do you want to make next?
Well, last year I made a three-by-three feet Santa head, with trade mark pipe, out of a Styrofoam hot tub cover my friend Andrew tossed in the dumpster. I then attached a fog machine in the back so the pipe billowed smoke. That was fun.
I have boundless energy. If I’m not at work you can find me at the beach, on my bike, on the dance floor of the A-House, at the gym and swimming at one of the town pools but mostly keeping an eye out for junked materials and thinking up a new project. I love the idea of using things that would otherwise end up in a landfill. The bigger, the better. I’m itching to do a life size (baby) paper maché giraffe.
What have you learned from the residents at Seashore Point?
I do get to socialize with the residents during mealtime, and I get to find out what interesting lives they have had. What strikes me most about them is how strong the human spirit is in the face of old age and physical limitation. Even after the body has given up, the spirit wants to keep going. Someday I will know why that happens but not anytime soon…I hope.
Why did you make Ptown home?
Halloween! And because I have a uniform fetish, the notion of being whatever and dressing however I want is key. ‘No Questions Asked” is an everyday thing here. That’s one of the reasons I love it. Also, even though I work in the whale watch ticket office, I do get to go out and see the whales whenever I want to. And I do. It’s a wonderful thing to have these gentle giants right here in our backyard all summer long. And then every week brings a new group of people. Coming over the hill to see Provincetown all laid out is always a comforting sight. Home. I moved away a few years ago, and I was back in Ptown in three months, from homesickness. It was then that I realized Ptown would be my home for the long haul even though it’s not any easy place to live. And the scenery is always changing, every season. It’s great!