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Jennifer Raiser

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Ken Fulk Proffers His Peeps a Peep at P-Town

Posted: 08/23/2012 7:06 pm

We don't often scoop our like-minded publication, the New York Times, but they did just discover what we've known for some time: Ken Fulk "has long shown a talent for hospitality." And how. For his most recent cocktail convocation to celebrate the artists of Provincetown, he delighted his signature bridge mix of guests with a weathered one-room dune shack built inside the ground floor of his Seventh Street studio. The cabana was designed as the hideout for an (imaginary?)1940s rough-and- tumble tryst between Tennessee Williams and Jackson Pollock, concurrent denizens of the fishing village on the tip of Cape Cod. Its salt-bleached boards creaked under the weight of a steel twin bed complete with rumpled sheets and scratchy wool blankets, white sand gritting underfoot. A lantern flickered above, and a dogeared old skin magazine peeped out between heftier literary tomes on the rickety shelf. The details were dead-on, right down to the tuft of beachgrass on the ground next to the washed-up buoys. A metaphor?

Just past the shack, a zoot-suited swing combo, complete with fedora'd crooner, gave their best ring-a-ding-ding, lamenting lost loves and tough guys, sometimes the same. Those who did not want to wait for the rhythm of a shaken cocktail could avail themselves of the punchbowl filled with a magical elixir of vodka, ginger and orange blossom water, served in those exasperatingly small cut glass punch cups that were de rigeur for festive parties of the era. Guests and artists milled around in their postwar best, a symphony of smart sailor shirts, breezy bias-cut frocks and spectator shoes. Upstairs in the loftlike penthouse, more bon vivants chatted on the terrace and nibbled off of platters proffered from a table wrought from the Cape Cod School of Art, founded in Provincetown way back in 1899. Like P-town, the effect was liberated and ever-so-slightly louche, the perfect backdrop for the guest of honor, artist/director/provocateur John Waters, resplendent in dinner jacket and trademark pencil thin moustache. Waters' contribution to the show is a self portrait as the Provincetown crier dressed in polyester pseudo-Puritan garb like some overzealous living history buff. In person, he dutifully greeted his many admirers and acolytes, giving no hint of the transgressive streak that continues to place him in this town's Non-NeoPuritan pantheon. With homes in San Francisco, Baltimore and Provincetown, Waters was greeting introduced guests as a convivial neighbor trying to tell identical triplets apart. Inundated with the crush, he gamely held his own until host Fulk swooped in to ensure that Waters was spared a few moments to actually enjoy the soiree.

Other artists present and represented in the mixed media show included Mischa Richter, Michael Stuetz, Frankie Rice, Larry Collins, Fritz Bultman, the evanescent atmospheric work of Jack Pierson, and the luminous paintings of John Dowd. Guests were abuzz with tales of summer sojurns and themselves, swapping twice-told tales of meeting Gore Vidal with sly reminiscences of their own past lives in Provincetown. The evening provided a picture-perfect peep at P-town, real and recalled, that storied spot on the other coast where a legendary talent for hospitality is honored and appreciated.

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