The Albert Merola Gallery, under the proprietorship of Albert Merola and James Balla, reached the quarter-century mark in 2012 as one of the most respected galleries in town, showing the works of Fritz Bultman, Pat de Groot, Donna Flax, Michael Mazur, Tabitha Vevers and John Waters, among others. The commercial space served as the Zoltan Gluck Art Gallery from 1967 to 1972, before Gluck moved to 398 Commercial. Residential tenants in the building have included the artist Susan Baker and the potter Peggy R. Prichett, who also served on the town’s Art Commission. These photographs of her apartment and her artwork were taken in 2009.
“My husband and I bought the property in 1983 and we used it as a weekend escape from our home and production studio in Newton, Mass.,” Prichett told me in 2012.
“In 1990, I left my husband and moved to Provincetown full time. I created a ceramic studio in the basement, which ran the length of the house and I worked as a full time potter there until I moved in 2009. The deed was signed over to me in 1996.
“It was a very special time in Provincetown; good and bad. Everyone I knew was a working artist or writer which made for interesting and lasting friendships. The downside was the AIDS epidemic. I lost many good friends during those early years of the epidemic.
“Small towns are very special places. Over the years, I was a member of the Heritage board and, for nine years, was on the Art Commission, during which time we raised the budget from $2,500 a year to almost $17,000 a year, making it possible to clean, conserve and reframe almost every piece in the wonderful town art collection. We also hung all the paintings that are in the new library. I felt a very close connection to the town.”
Merola and Balla moved to Provincetown in 1985. Two years later, they opened their first gallery, Universal Fine Objects, at 432 Commercial Street. They moved here in 1990, renting from Prichett, who said, “I loved having them in the gallery and they were so helpful to me if I was in need of anything.” The U.F.O. name stayed with the gallery until 1997 when it was abandoned, Provincetown Arts explained that year, because “too many people came in looking for the art of aliens.” ¶ Updated 2012-11-24