As Cape Cod narrows on its way north, the town of Wellfleet, with its beautiful harbor on the Bay side and the Cape Cod National Seashore on the Atlantic Ocean side, is the perfect place for an arts and culture getaway. In 2017, the Massachusetts Cultural Council designated Wellfleet’s town center and harbor as a Cultural District in recognition of the concentration and vitality of its artistic, cultural, and natural resources. In addition to its natural beauty, Wellfleet is filled with art galleries, as well as restaurants, shops, historical and cultural centers, and theaters.
Enjoy Theater Under the Stars
Since 1985, the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater (WHAT) has produced award-winning community theater, prompting the Boston Globe to call it “a jewel in Massachusetts’s crown.” Conveniently located on Route 6, WHAT offers a variety of entertaining productions throughout the summer. Check their site for this season’s listings.
Photography, Pottery, Visual Arts, and Local History
The Garage Gallery on Somerset Avenue, not far from the Mid-Cape Highway/Route 6, is a converted garage, home to a collection of nature photography by owner Janis Ekman. Further north on Route 6, Narrow Land Pottery features porcelain and stoneware pottery by Joe McCaffery, with classic shapes and amazing glazes combined into handmade works of art. Just off Route 6 at 20 Old Long Pond Road, the Riley Strauss Gallery is a 21st century contemporary visual arts and literary gallery showcasing artworks for sale in oil, acrylic, printmaking, mixed-media, pen and ink, crayons, watercolor, and other styles, as well as books in printmaking, dance, and Hitchcock films authored by the gallery directors Sarah Riley and Marc Strauss.
Cross under Route 6 to the west and enter Wellfleet Center. At 266 Main Street, you’ll find the Wellfleet Historical Society and Museum, an interactive facility with a rich collection of artifacts that tell the story of a vibrant seafaring town dating back to the 17th century. Displays include shipwrecks, lifesaving, an antique tool room, Native American artifacts, and much more.
Local Artists at Work
Nearby galleries include Off Main, Jeff Soderbergh, The Works Gallery, and Newcomb Hollow Shop & Gallery. Off Main Gallery’s mission is to think locally, exhibiting the paintings, collage, prints, and photography of Outer Cape and other Massachusetts artists. At 11 West Main Street is the showroom and sculpture garden featuring the sustainable work of seasonal artists and the furnishings of Jeff Soderbergh. The focus of the gallery is to showcase a high level of sustainably-created contemporary artwork.
The Works Gallery is a lovely light-filled gallery that sits along Duck Creek. Artist Paul Suggs came to Wellfleet more than 45 years ago after completing training as a fine artist/painter at the School of Visual Arts in New York. His wife Anne creates wheel-thrown and hand-built pottery at her outdoor studio at The Works Gallery. Newcomb Hollow Shop & Gallery exhibits beautiful driftwood lamps by artist Andrew Newcomb and exquisite photographs by award-winning artist Amber Barricman.
Preservation Hall: A Hub of Culture
Wellfleet Preservation Hall, formerly the site of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, is the visionary and creative reuse of a century-old church. Beautifully restored with modern amenities, today the hall serves as a hub for art, culture, and community in the heart of the village all year round. Whether it is visual, musical, or performance art, or classes for the body, mind, and spirit, it celebrates and invites programs and exhibits that invigorate and energize. The hall truly offers something for everyone. Check out their website for this season’s listings of events.
The Front Porch Gallery is a quaint, salon-style art gallery featuring representational and abstract acrylic paintings, mixed media artwork, fine woodworking, fiber art, pottery, and more.
The Blue Heron Gallery displays a large selection of contemporary fine art including oil, egg tempera, encaustic, watercolor, pastels, acrylic, photography, etchings, sculpture, and limited edition prints. The Blue Heron Gallery hosts artists’ receptions on Saturdays in July and August, offering new art and an opportunity to meet the artist.
The Golden Cod Gallery, once a blacksmith’s shop and later a fish market, is now a charming space featuring the graphic work of Jack Coughlin and the paintings of Joan Hopkins Coughlin.
Commercial Street Galleries
Along Commercial Street running south, you’ll find several more galleries. Cove Gallery features internationally- and locally-recognized fine artists and illustrators and has a custom frame shop on the premises that utilizes conservation materials and procedures. Be sure to stroll through the Cove’s beautiful sculpture garden.
Left Bank Gallery features a continuously rotating collection of paintings – from lyrical abstract to “plein air” realism, all with the power of engaging the viewer – punctuated by lofty, gestural mobiles. Acting on the idea that art should be part of our living environments, owner Audrey Sherwin Parent pairs canvases and sculptures with functional ware for the home.
Celeste Fine Arts Gallery is a unique combination of working studio and gallery of fine art. Artist/ Owner Celeste Woodes-Koper creates and showcases her impressionist pastels and oil paintings depicting many local landscapes, flower gardens, and still life. The gallery also features framed prints of her original artwork.
Theater on the Harbor
Perched on Wellfleet Harbor, the Harbor Stage Company is an ensemble of professional theater artists. See their site for current exhibits.
One more gallery to check out! In the Frying Pan Gallery, you will find steel sailfish, stripers, tuna, bait-fish, horseshoe crabs, and more by steel sculptor/owner Steve Swain, as well as paintings, etchings, jewelry, furniture, photographs, and more by other Cape Cod artists and artisans. The gallery was a former oyster shack dating back over 100 years, saved from the wrecking ball by Swain.
After a day in Wellfleet, you’ll be overflowing with the sights and sounds of artistic production and cultural riches. In fact, you may need more than just a day trip – make it a vacation!
For places to stay on the Outer Cape, click here. For dining options on the Outer Cape, click this link. And for additional things to do during your visit to the Outer Cape, click here.