Benton Jones, director of art at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, observes that the central location of Dennis on Cape Cod, easily accessible from all the other towns, makes it the perfect hub of art and culture. A vacation along Route 6A in Dennis, also known as Old King’s Highway, immerses you in a wide array of art.
Fresh Air, Tasty Treats, Painting and Pottery
Start your day trip at Cape Abilities Farm on Route 6A. The farm is one of three innovative social enterprises established by Cape Abilities—a nonprofit providing jobs, homes, transportation, and social and therapeutic services for people with disabilities across Cape Cod. The farm offers organic and local food and groceries, gardening supplies, flowers, gifts, art, and more. Pick up something for breakfast, items for a picnic basket, or a snack for later!
Just up the road, visit Sarah Holl’s Art Space, the studio that’s home to this innovative mixed media painter and sculptor. The studio and gallery provides the opportunity to interact with the artist and see the processes behind the paintings. Holl originally developed her niche at Scargo Pottery, founded by her father Harry Holl, in her work with large-scale ceramic installations. She shares her passion for the arts on a daily basis by being a mentor for numerous interns of the Cape Cod Museum of Art, just up the street, and by teaching at her studio. Holl’s remarkable work continues to transform as she blurs the worlds of canvas and clay.
At Mill Stone Pottery, less than half a mile up the road as you arrive in Dennis Village, artist Gail Turner produces functional and decorative stoneware pottery fired in a reduction atmosphere utilizingrich wax resist patterns, textural imprints, and mottled glazes. All the pottery is hand built using the wheel or slabconstruction, with care and attention to detail, and can be used every day.
In Dennis Village, you can pause to picnic on the grass or under the gazebo and watch the bustling village hum. If you need something yummy, you can pop into the Underground Bakery, featuring organic, fair-trade coffee, a wide variety of sweets, natural-starter breads baked daily, and a robust menu of breakfast, lunch, and vegan offerings. You can also shop and get ice cream in Dennis Village. The gazebo hosts many free concerts over the summer.
An Arts Campus in the Heart of Town
The Cape Cod Center for the Arts is one of the oldest arts centers in the country, located on a lovely 23-acre campus in Dennis village, open to the public since 1927. The Cape Cod Museum of Art, the Cape Playhouse, and the Cape Cinema are all found here, making it a thriving hub for culture.
The Cape Cod Museum of Art is a modern art museum with an outstanding permanent collection of more than 2,500 paintings, prints, and sculpture created by past and present artists with a significant Cape Cod connection. When planning exhibitions for this summer, Jones says, “Because of the vast number of tourists who come to the museum in the summer, I look for exhibitions that present a uniquely engaging aspect of the artistic life and culture on Cape Cod that they would not see anywhere else.”
Exhibitions during summer 2021 include: “Visions/Revisions,” focused on the work of 21 women artists who returned to the same location in Truro over 22 years, through August 1st with a July 1st reception; “Exploration: A Journey into CCMoA’s Permanent Collection,” through August 1st; “Firsts: A Juried Members’ Exhibition,” through August 1st; “cARTography: Envisioning Cape Cod,” a multi-faceted exhibition of historical maps, two recently restored, monumental murals depicting a voyage, and an installation by a contemporary cartographer/artist, running June 30th to October 3rd.
You can also enjoy the “Music & More Summer Concert Series” on Sunday afternoons from 4:30 to 5:30 PM at the museum. Listen to musicians from a vast variety of disciplines, including swing, bluegrass, Dixieland jazz, Celtic music, jazz standards, and classical music.
The Cape Cod Museum of Art is celebrating 40 years with a cocktail party and silent auction on August 7th. Jones says, “We have chosen the theme of ‘Voyage’ for our 40th anniversary — to acknowledge the journey we’ve been on, are still on, and what we are looking forward to on the horizon.”
The Cape Playhouse is America’s oldest professional summer theater. The theater opened in 1927 with a play starring Basil Rathbone, famous for his film portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. Henry Fonda and Bette Davis, a former Playhouse usher, made their acting debuts here. Two shows will be performed at the Cape Playhouse on the outdoor stage this summer: in July, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” a recreation of one of Billie Holiday’s last performances in 1959; in August, “Songs For A New World,” a celebration of life and music for the whole family.
The Cape Cinema has been an entertainment destination on Cape Cod since 1930. The exterior of the cinema resembles a church, but the building has always been a cinema. Inside the Art Deco theater itself, there is a 6,400 square foot mural covering the ceiling painted by Rockwell Kent. Today, the Cape Cinema shows independent/arthouse films and also presents content from the Metropolitan Opera, the National Theater, and the Bolshoi Ballet.
Legendary Pottery and Delicious Dining Options
Less than two miles east from Dennis Village, Scargo Pottery is a hidden outdoor art gallery, at 55 Studio Way off Route 6A. Founded in 1952 by the late, legendary Harry Holl, Scargo Pottery is the longest functioning pottery studio on Cape Cod. Harry Holl was a co-founder of the Cape Cod Museum of Art, and a renowned potter and sculptor.
Scargo Pottery today features the work of five potters. The open studio space, situated in a unique woodland environment above the beautiful Scargo Lake, features the distinctive high-fire ceramics of its five resident artists: wheel-thrown and slab-built pieces, sculpture, tiles, lamps, and garden pieces, as well as exhibitions of paintings, jewelry, and other media.
Encore Bistro and Bar is on the grounds of the Cape Cod Center for the Arts , near the Museum, offering a quaint ambiance with fine dining quality. Across the street from the Center, Scargo Café features contemporary, creative Cape Cod cuisine, served in an upscale casual atmosphere.
Less than a mile east from the Cape Cod Center for the Arts on Route 6A, The Pheasant offers a great wine selection and fresh farm-to-table dining. The kitchen works closely with local farmers and fishers to source the best seasonal ingredients to create dynamic and bold flavors and made-from-scratch menus.
All three are great choices for lunch or dinner before or after a cultural experience!
For places to stay on the Mid-Cape, click here. For dining options on the Mid-Cape, click this link. And for additional things to do during your visit to the Mid-Cape, click here.