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.
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.
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.