60 West Franklin Street

60 West Franklin Street, courtesy of Mimi Gross.

60 West Franklin Street, courtesy of Mimi Gross.

Chaim Gross, courtesy of Jonathan Sinaiko.

Chaim Gross, courtesy of Jonathan Sinaiko.

Chaim Gross's "Tourists," by Rosemary Hillard (2014).

Chaim Gross’s “Tourists,” by Rosemary Hillard (2014).

Those delightful Tourists outside the Public Library may be the town’s most beloved public sculpture. Not far behind are Dancing Mother and Dance Rhythm at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. The artist, Chaim Gross, who died in 1991, created many such beguiling works. Born in Wohlau, Germany (now Wołów, Poland), he studied at the Educational Alliance Art School in New York. In 1951, he and his wife, Renee, bought this splendid 2.7-acre hilltop property from the heirs of George Elmer Browne for $7,500. This was Browne’s “specially-designed studio,” Dorothy Gees Seckler wrote in Provincetown Painters, 1890s-1970s, where he conducted his West End School. He had studied at the Académie Julian, was a knight in the Légion d’Honneur, and was known for the “directness and dramatic emphasis” of his style, Seckler said, and for cutting a fine Bohemian figure. Browne died in 1946.

Mimi Gross, courtesy of Mimi Gross.

Mimi Gross, courtesy of Mimi Gross.

Gross, too, was a familiar presence in town, Robert Hatch wrote in a 1961 Horizon profile, tooling around in an old yellow Cadillac and wearing an embroidered yarmulke. This property now belongs to his daughter, the artist Miriam “Mimi” Gross (pictured). “Chaim was a voracious collector of African and Oceanic art and this work surrounded Mimi from her earliest childhood, permeating every corner of her aesthetic unconscious,” Charles Bernstein wrote. In Provincetown, “she found herself amidst the Abstract Expressionist painters surrounding Hans Hofmann’s legendary school.” Mimi was married to Red Grooms, with whom she collaborated on Ruckus Manhattan and other marvelous environmental works.

60 West Franklin Street, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

60 West Franklin Street, by David W. Dunlap (2011).

More than 2,000 buildings and vessels are searchable on buildingprovincetown.com. The Building Provincetown book is available for purchase ($20) at Town Hall, Office of the Town Clerk, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown 02657.

One thought on “60 West Franklin Street

  1. an excerpt from A Book About the Artists – by Nancy Paine Smith 1927
    Mrs. George Elmer Brown is a Putnam from Danvers.
    In choosing a home, Mr. Brown followed the traditions of his father’s side of the house, and bought near the shore,where they can see Highland Light keeping nightly watch. The house and the studio are not far distant from a lovely little pond with the funny name of “Shank Painter.” This is a corruption of an Indian word, and not, as some mockers affirm, descriptive of modem artists.
    Every winter he goes abroad with students.
    Every summer he exhibits here, and often, so they say, he sells his work. We who are Yankees are prone to measure not only by the rule “Art for art’s sake'” but also by its value in the market.
    This house was built by a man not born on the Cape. He therefore made a home on a hill, whereas the old skippers liked to live near the water. The second owner was killed, a young man, in the civil war.
    His widow, as long as she lived, kept the place, lonely on the hill, saying, “Some day this beautiful spot will be appreciated.”
    Mr. Brown was the man who saw its beauty and possibilities and bought it for a studio.

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