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It is a 2,708 mile journey from the seaside art colony in Santa Barbara to the seaside art colony in Provincetown, Massachusetts, but because the art world is so small, it feels much, much closer. Both places feature one main road in and one main road out. Both are reasonably close to major art centers, but far enough away to have a distinctive culture of their own. And both lay claim to regionally important art histories that touched on the national culture at various points.

When the premier art gallery in Santa Barbara decided to begin representing JUDITH ROTHSCHILD, it suddenly found itself with paintings and sculptures from three artists with distinct connections to Provincetown. That’s how the gallery  decided to mount an exhibition that tips its hat to an East Coast counterpoint. For the Summer months of July and August, Sullivan Goss will exhibit works by SIDNEY GORDIN (1918-1996), BETTY LANE (1907-1998), and JUDITH ROTHSCHILD (1921-1993).

As in Santa Barbara, Provincetown’s art history can be divided into chapters. All three artists were there when interest in abstraction exploded. Rothschild and Gordin were there at the beginning of that interest in the mid 1940s, but Betty Lane resettled there following a divorce between 1948 and 1951. Lane was a full generation older than Rothschild and Gordin, but all were dedicated to pushing art forward in their own ways.




JUDITH ROTHSCHILD was born in New York and studied painting at Wellesley and Cranbrook Academy of Art. After college, she took classes at the Art Students League – that most famous institution for instructing women in visual art – under Reginald Marsh. She then studied with Hans Hofmann – himself, a famous institution for teaching women the theories of abstract painting. She then got a job at Atelier 17, a printmaking studio of international repute, where she met Alexander Calder and Jacques Lipschitz. She was already one of the new breed, a group of very young artists who were interested in pursuing the latest ideas in abstract painting, when she joined the Jane Street Gallery, New York’s first cooperative gallery. She had her first solo exhibition there in 1945. In 1946, she was invited to join the American Abstract Artists group, which she would later leave, rejoin, and serve as President. Her involvement with Provincetown came about organically through Hofmann, through her friendship with Robert Motherwell who spent summers there, and finally through her association with the artist Karl Knaths (1891-1971) who was kind of the patron saint of the art community during that time. Rothschild’s marriage to a Harvard-educated novelist brought her to live in Monterey, California between 1947 and 1956, but she still spent summers in Provincetown. Rothschild’s work and her life story will unfold in future exhibitions. Her work can be found today in prestigious museum collections like the Metropolitan Museum, the MOMA, and the TATE Modern among many others.

SIDNEY GORDIN was born in Chelyabinsk, Russia and immigrated with his family to Brooklyn when he was four. He went to Brooklyn Technical High School where he learned welding and mechanical drafting and took summer classes at the Brooklyn Museum under Werner Drewes and Thomas Eldred. He got into Cooper Union in Manhattan and graduated as a painting major in 1941. He joined “the Club” of advanced artists that included Willem de Kooning and Arshile Gorky. In 1944, he spent the spring and the summer in Provincetown, near to Hofmann’s school but not in it. There, he made some of the most advanced Abstract Expressionist paintings being done anywhere in America at the time. In 1951, he had his breakout moment in the competitive American Sculpture exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum where he was written up in the New York Times as one of the most promising in the new non-objective school. His critical rise was rapid after that and he was soon featured at the MOMA, the Whitney, and the Guggenheim. He joined the American Abstract Artists Group and began showing with Grace Borgenicht Gallery.  In 1958, he accepted a full professor job at U.C. Berkeley to teach sculpture, but he maintained an interest in Provincetown, participating in its art association shows and eventually buying a house there.

BETTY LANE was born in Washington D.C. and showed an early aptitude for both drawing and music. She attended the Corcoran School of Art and then the Massachusetts Normal Art School, an institution near Boston devoted to training art teachers. Eventually, she was able to prevail upon her family to let her go to Paris, where she studied with French cubist André L’Hote. An early exhibition with Duncan Philips put her on the map. At 29, she married a Canadian writer / documentary filmmaker and moved to London. In England, she was heavily influenced by the quasi-Surrealist experiments that were taking place in the 1930s. The blitz sent her home where she had a number of important shows at Galerie St. Etienne – famous for German Expressionism and outsider art – in the early 40s. Between 1948 and 1951, her marriage began to fall apart and she settled on Cape Cod, taking a job at Miss Porter’s School for Girls in nearby Farmington, Connecticut. She retired on the Cape and painted happily until the end of her life.

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