The four-by-six-foot “Welcome to Provincetown” sign just west of Snail Road was originally painted in 1981 [?] by the watercolorist Doris Britt, who was chosen from among eight applicants by the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce.
Referring to herself in the third person, Britt says on her Web site that her “subjects are always recognizable, but unexpected shadows, mists and colors converge to create a mood of what might have been.” In 1996, the well-known painter Frank Milby (b 1933) was commissioned to repaint the signs. A glimpse at his work on the Provincetown Artist Registry would suggest immediately that he was going to use a bolder palette than Britt. That he did, but he also added back a seagull to the piling at the left edge of the composition that Britt had eliminated at some point between her original watercolor cartoon and the finished version of the road sign. (“Gull Returns to ‘Welcome’ Signs,” The Banner, 13 June 1996.) Milby has been responsible since for keeping the sign refreshed, and the difference from one iteration to the next can be significant, as these pictures show. (The bespectacled face in the 2003 photo belongs to the author, not to some whimsical merman that Milby temporarily added for his own private amusement.)