595 Commercial Street

At the turn of the 21st century, this was where the artist Barbara E. Cohen and her spouse, Honey Black Kay (1942-2007), a therapist and teacher, spent their summers. The cottage had at one time been owned by the sculptor Avrom “Arlie” Sinaiko (1902-1984), as had 597 Commercial next door.

Cohen was graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (Tufts University) in Boston and studied art history at Oxford. She is known in New York and Provincetown as an abstract painter and sculptor. She has also created lovely composite pictures that, at their base, are manipulated Polaroid SX-70 prints, on which she engraves and paints further color, form and imagery. The first collection of these works, Dog in the Dunes, was published in 1998, followed in 2002 by Provincetown East West.

 

 

Her spouse, Kay, held a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree from Temple University. She studied with the Czech psychiatrist Dr. Stanislav Grof. Among her specialities in therapeutic work were orthodpedically disabled children. Kay died at 64 of pancreatic cancer. An obituary in The Banner (14 June 2007) expressed her vitality:

Her home was always open, either as a spot for a great dance party on a summer night or as a quiet haven for those who needed her. She did not believe in a locked door. To meet Honey was to feel the deepest sense of freedom and love of life. She always listened and never judged. She embodied the true spirit of Provincetown from the way she swam in her birthday suit, cheered at the Swim For Life, gave generously to Helping Our Women, treated her neighbors like family, bonded with all the ‘characters’ and always gave of herself.

“She lived and raised her four kids in that house every summer for 30 years,” Cohen told me in 2012. The family drove up every summer from Philadelphia. There was a fire one year, but Kay was undeterred. “She loved the house,” Cohen said, “and always said a tidal wave would have to take her from it. I met Honey in 1993 and moved in a year after. We lived there for 15 years, every summer. The house was always filled with visitors and renters, such as Gregory Gillespie, Grace Paley, and many other great Provincetown artists and writers.”

The property has been owned since 2011 by Dr. Nicklas B. E. Oldenburg, an oncologist in Providence, and his partner, Paul Carter.

[Updated 2012-07-24]

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