By Susan Rand Brown
Banner Correspondent/Provincetown Banner Aug. 7, 2014
“I like to work real fast,” says painter and graphic designer Lee Brock, in the gallery where she assists owner Patty DeLuca and shows her own art. “This new series,” she continues, standing next to a four-paneled grid, each blue-toned, layered painting highlighting abstractly rendered objects, from a pendulum to beautifully mounted fossil seen through windows in Parisian design boutiques, “is done in waterbased mediums, inks and acrylics. It dries faster than oils so I can work through more spontaneously and still get that painterly effect.” Interning a few summers ago at the Provincetown Art Association & Museum as the capstone of a graphic design degree at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Brock also gallery-sat to engage museum visitors in conversation about Robert Motherwell’s abstract paintings — out of love for the art, of course, but also to teach herself how best to describe the kind of expressionist artwork she began doing in her teens...
Traditionally schooled in the U.S. and in Europe, including teen years spent in Madrid when her art-loving family moved from the U.S. to Spain, Brock’s truest education has happened through intuition, circumstance and apprenticeship. An early stop in her journey was the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, where beat poets like Michael McClure were teaching classes. Next was an art program in Austin, Texas. Buddies were hanging out at the well-known Café Les Amis, and soon Brock was cooking there, drawing posters for the local music scene, illustrating small edition books and showing her own artwork.
In Austin, she met women with Provincetown ties, and in 1978 spent her first summer in town; at Gabriel’s Guesthouse a year later, she and others opened The Local Artist’s Gallery. “The only criteria was that an artist live within 50 miles of the gallery,” she explains, spontaneously drawing a circle in the air. She also met Sue Harrison, writer, blogger and silversmith, and now her life partner. (Harrison is the former arts and entertainment editor for this newspaper.) When she and Brock met, Harrison owned Half Bay Moon Leather; and soon Brock was learning the art of leather cutting. “Then I followed my dreams to go to New York and become known as an artist,” she says, smiling at the memory of her youthful self, “and instead went to culinary school.” Culinary school for her meant a formal education in French cuisine; before long she was whipping up Escoffier sauces at the four-star Pierre Hotel, making, Brock says, edible art in the kitchen, and her own paintings at home. “I kept trying to go off and find the next exciting thing, and the Pierre kept calling me back.” About 13 years ago Brock again heeded the siren call of Provincetown, and soon was able to return to making art, becoming increasingly visible as a graphic designer with clients including the Provincetown Art Association & Museum and the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival, and as a visual artist with a vibrant palette and identifiable sense of style. Mostly recently she has studied monoprint and silkscreen with master printmaker Vicky Tomayko, experimenting with techniques that increase her fluency in both fine arts and client based design.
Her ode to Provincetown, “Five Lobsters, One Claw,” hanging in the upper level of the DeLuca Gallery when this reporter visited, is essential Brock: a study in reds, blues and yellows with swirls of black ink, its dancelike brush-strokes and bright colors expressing a sense of gratitude for life’s spontaneous twists and turns.
Designer and artist Gloria Sollecito interviewed me for her blog on her ARTFUL KITCHENS company website: