The studio of the house where Polly Cote lived in Provincetown, Massachusetts, had a north window and three skylights to admit the famous light of this peninsula town. She once lived on Mount Desert Island and spent twenty years there, walking the carriage paths and absorbing the dramatic landscape. She also lived in Connecticut, where she was born, as well as in Hawaii, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Nigeria.
Polly’s art education began at the Hartford Art School Saturday morning classes when she was in grade school. She studied art wherever she could: at Smith College, at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, at the Center for Adult Education in Cambridge, the Princeton Art Association, the University of Hawaii and Dartmouth College. She took workshops in drawing, painting, and printmaking in Provincetown and Truro. Although she served as an adjunct professor and enjoyed teaching at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, she consider herself more of a learner than a teacher.
Part of her continuing education involved drawing from a model every week. In addition to improving her skills of observation and dexterity, she felt that drawing enabled her to reach a state of selflessness that opened her wholly to the possibilities of artistic expression.
Polly’s paintings and prints have been included in group shows and one-person shows in galleries and museums in New Jersey, Maine, New Hampshire, Washington D.C. and Massachusetts at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, the Provincetown Art Association and Museum and the Provincetown Fine Arts Works Center.
Among honors she received, Polly was commissioned to illustrate “Poems for Sutton Island”, by Hortense Flexner, and in 1997 she was chosen by the Outer Cape Cod Residency Consortium for an artist’s residency in a dune shack in Provincetown. It was her pleasure to serve on the exhibits committee of the Union of Maine Visual Artists and as the treasurer of the UMVA for three years. She also served on the membership committee of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum where she monitored the drawing group.
Observing and drawing the world was my greatest challenge and joy. Painting and printmaking were ways for me to bring color, movement and imagination to my observations.
The pleasure of printmaking was the element of surprise that each print method insinuated into the finished print. While I worked, I had a dialogue with my method. I wanted my favorite motifs – birds, trees and the human figure – to express movement and vitality. The challenge for me was to interact with the static impress of a rigid plate or woodblock and, using color and line and form, come up with a dynamic image. The resulting print was the happy union between my creative intent and the print process’s firm magic.
In whatever I made –print or drawing or painting – I was asking those who viewed my work if this is possibly what the world is. My pictures were, in effect, completed by those who looked at them.