Pop culture has long been Shank Painter Road’s stock in trade. High culture, not so much. That is, until 2009, when Ewa Nogiec (b 1952), a photographer, painter, illustrator and graphic designer, opened Gallery Ehva in the principal commercial space at No. 74, owned by Charles W. Silva, whose other properties along the road begin at the Stop & Shop. Nogiec is a native of Wroclaw, Poland. She attended the Akademia Sztuk Pięknych w Poznaniu (Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan). By her own account, the conceptual artist Jarosław Kozłowski was her most important teacher. In 1981, the convulsive year in which martial law was imposed in Poland to curb the rapid growth of the independent trade union movement embodied by Lech Wałęsa, Nogiec learned about Provincetown while on a visit to New York.
Two years later, she was living here and working as an assistant to the artist Haynes Ownby (1930-2001). (Rena Lindstrom, “Gallery Spotlight — Gallery Ehva,” Artscope, May-June 2010.) She also ran a company called ENS Graphics. Either Nogiec or the company were credited as art directors or designers of Provincetown Arts from Volume 9 through Volume 16.
Nogiec’s work is familiar to visitors who may never know her name. She collaborated with Norma Holt to create the enormous photo portrait murals of Portuguese women, They Also Faced the Sea, on the pier shed at Fishermen’s Wharf, 9 Ryder Street Extension. And she designed the Historic Provincetown Walking Tour fold-out map. (Full disclosure: I collaborated with her on that venture.)
Her online presence is a formidable testament to her range of passions and achievements. There is, of course, a gallery Web site. (The name Gallery Ehva derives from the correct pronunciation of “Ewa.”) Then there is her Web magazine, I Am Provincetown, which she has written, illustrated, edited and produced since 2000. The invaluable Provincetown Artist Registry documents hundreds of artists, with examples of their work accompanied sometimes by short biographies, other times by thoughtful mini-essays. And then there is one of her more recent initiatives, the 10 Days of Art Festival, every fall.
The gallery specializes in Provincetown art and, as of 2013, represented Stephen Aiken, Tracey Anderson, Barbara Cohen, Didier Corallo, Donna Dodson, Rob DuToit, Salvatore Fiumara, Wendelin Glatzel, Irén Handschuh, Myrna Harrison, Alicia Henry, Ken Horii, Jenny Humphreys, René Lamadrid, Susan Lyman, David Paulson, Janice Redman, Christina Schlesinger, Richard E. Smith, Rob Westerberg and Cyndi Wish. Thanks to large-scale outdoor sculptures like Dodson’s voluptuous Seagull Cinderella, Gallery Ehva’s presence is unmistakable, even on the Shank Painter strip.