Ray Elman and Norma Holt: The Outer Cape Art Colony in Portrait

Installation Views

Co-curated by Ethan Cohen and Jane Paradise at Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM)


For the past century, Cape Cod’s Provincetown has been home to a vibrant art colony and cultural scene, hosting famed literary and artistic figures. This summer, in collaboration with the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM), Ethan Cohen Fine Arts curated an exhibition dedicated to the sense of community artists have found in the town. “Ray Elman and Norma Holt: The Outer Cape Art Colony in Portrait,” which closed August 7th, consists of portraits of Provincetown personalities, from the well known to the unknown.

A leading figure of the “Golden Age of Photojournalism,” Norma Holt (1918-2013) was committed to the power of photography for social change. While much of her work was dedicated to capturing poverty, protest, and injustice around the world, her Provincetown photographs are a testament to the warmth and egalitarianism she felt in the community. Over fifty years, she produced two books of portraits based on her time in Provincetown, capturing informal images of artists, writers, and residents.


Following in Holt’s footsteps, Roy Elman (b.1945) has been making portraits of the Provincetown community since 1989. Collaging digital photographs with oil-painted images, Elman has created over 220 large-scale portraits of local luminaries, four of which are now in the collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Though his technique is not as direct as Holt’s classic black-and-white snapshots, his work is no less emotionally intimate.


Though divided by artistic style and generation, the combination of Holt and Elman’s work creates a rich archive of a community over the decades. Ethan Cohen Fine Arts is proud to have partnered with PAAM to exhibit these prolific artists together.