Four Locals Featured in Portraits at Aselton Park in Hyannis

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Kate DeCiccio poses with her completed portraits before they were hung at Aselton Park in Hyannis.

Kate DeCiccio poses with her completed portraits before they were hung at Aselton Park in Hyannis.

HYANNIS – Four portraits hanging behind the stage at Aselton Park in Hyannis this summer are the result of a unique art project last month.

A Washington D.C. street artist, Kate DeCiccio, 35, spent the last two weeks of June in Hyannis as the artist-in-residence at the Guyer Barn, a town-owned art center on South Street.

Along with creating street art around downtown Hyannis, including at the corner of Pearl Street and South Street and painting a bench at the park next to Town Hall, DeCiccio created a mural of a series of locals that she felt embody the Cape spirit.

“I take portraits of the people in a photograph and then change those portraits into a high contrast, black and white graphic and then I project that graphic,” DeCiccio said. “Then I make a series of stencils that I paint on top of one another to create the dimension of the forms of the person, along with all kinds of decorative stuff around them.”

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Artist Kate DeCiccio's portrait of musician Sarah Swain.

Artist Kate DeCiccio’s portrait of musician Sarah Swain.

The first of the four locals DeCiccio chose to paint was Cape Cod musician Sarah Swain from the band Sarah Swain and the Oh Boys.

“She came over to our house and got to know me a little bit,” Swain said. “She did a photo shoot here and it was really relaxed and fun and she is really something special.”

DeCiccio and Swain spent less than an hour together and the musician said she was impressed with how well the artist captured her personality in such a short period of time.

“It’s funny because I’m usually pretty awkward in front of a camera, believe it or not, and she just sort of had the right vibe where I felt really relaxed,” Swain said.

“It was so fun photographing her,” DeCiccio said. “She has chickens running around the back yard and her kids are playing musical instruments and she gives me a whole bunch of eggs and fresh lettuce from the garden.”

Swain said DeCiccio is a gifted artist with a strong style.

“Her talent and vision are really amazing,” Swain said. “I couldn’t believe how quickly she worked.”

The singer and guitarist said it meant a lot to her personally to be asked to be a part of this project.

“I was surprised and honored and this makes me want to continue to do my best to be a productive member of the community and support other artists in the community as well,” Swain said.

After DeCiccio completed the Swain piece she was tasked with finding her second local.

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Two brothers, Justin and Brandon Madison, who are both lobstermen, posed for artist Kate DeCiccio's second portrait.

Two brothers, Justin and Brandon Madison, who are both lobstermen, posed for artist Kate DeCiccio’s second portrait.

“I knew I wanted to do fishermen and I had gotten a handful of names,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted the fisherman to be the figure of the older guy so I went to the pier early one morning with an open mind.”

At the pier, DeCiccio met and began talking with lobster fisherman Justin Madison.

After a few minutes Kate knew she had found her second subject and asked Justin if she could paint him.

Justin agreed but said he had a twin brother, Brandon, who was also a lobster fisherman.

DeCiccio had found her next subjects.

“They are young and have almost been doing it for about 10 years and both of them just exude this passion for the craft,” she said.

In the portrait of the twin brothers, who work on different lobster boats, DeCiccio included the faces of each of their captains, Bro Cote and Pete Brown.

She said they both had so much pride and respect for their captains that they were adamant about only participating if she could include the men who taught them so much and were the driving force behind the passion in their lives.

“There was such a sense of comradery amongst the guys who work together on these boats and because the work is so hard, they really have to team up and work together through really hard conditions,” DeCiccio said.

DeCiccio, who grew up in the Central Massachusetts town of Boylston and spent her summers on the Cape, now had two of the four portraits completed.

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Farmer Tim Friary of Cape Cod Organic Farm, is the subject of artist Kate DeCiccio's third portrait.

Farmer Tim Friary of Cape Cod Organic Farm, is the subject of artist Kate DeCiccio’s third portrait.

As her third subject, she chose a man who had been suggested by multiple people, Tim Friary of Cape Cod Organic Farms in Barnstable Village.

“Where I had the musician and the fishermen, having the farmer was kind of perfect,” DeCiccio said.

She went to meet Friary to ask him if she could paint him for the project and found out they had met before.

“I met Kate and we started talking and I found out I had her mother as a teacher in college,” Friary said.

DeCiccio said her mother taught horticulture at MassBay Community College.

“So it was just again, perfect, small world, great story,” DeCiccio said.

“We kind of reminisced about that for a little bit. She was a little, tiny kid when I first met her,” Friery said. “I think she might have been one or two [years old]. We had a class at her mother’s house.”

Friary said he enjoyed the whole process and meeting DeCiccio again made it even better.

“It was interesting to see that Kate has become a semi-famous artist and does nice work,” he said. “Seeing her when she was real young and now seeing her as a young woman, I thought it was neat to see that she is progressing nice in life.”

Friary was also happy with the finished painting.

“It showed my smile which was nice,” he said. “I think it was kind of a cool picture.”

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Arlene Johnson, of Centerville, poses next to her portrait at the Guyer Barn.

Arlene Johnson, of Centerville, poses next to her portrait at the Guyer Barn.

DeCiccio had just one subject left and said she knew she wanted to paint an older woman.

“What about someone from the ice cream, taffy and fudge legacy,” she said. “It seemed like so much a part of the Cape Cod experience.”

So DeCiccio called the Four Seas Ice Cream shop in Centerville and asked one of the workers if there were any older women who were regulars and the employee passed the phone over to Arlene Johnson, an 83-year-old Centerville resident.

At first, DeCiccio said Johnson was hesitant to take part.

“Of course she is apprehensive; I mean she’s sitting there eating ice cream and some stranger calls and says ‘can I paint you’?”

With a little persuasion from her husband, Johnson finally agreed to meet DeCiccio and look at her work before she decided to say yes.

Arlene Johnson and her husband, Eben, were high school sweethearts who have been married for 57 years and have been going to the Four Seas Ice Cream shop for about 50 years, sometimes up to three times a day.

“Wonderful interesting things happen wherever we are and it never stops. To have someone like Kate who loves to share her talents, what she does and everything that makes our life—you can’t beat it,” Johnson said.

Johnson said she loved how the finished portrait came out and her husband gave a glowing review.

“That is a wonderful likeness of my wife, especially the face. Kate captured that face beautifully. Of course it wasn’t hard to do because she is a beautiful woman.” Eben Johnson said.

“It has my favorite things,” Arlene said. “A wonderful delicious Four Seas Ice Cream cone and all the birds that we have who come to our gardens, and to our yard and to our deck.”

CCB MEDIA PHOTO The portraits are displayed on the stage at Aselton Park in Hyannis.

The portraits are displayed on the stage at Aselton Park in Hyannis.

DeCiccio said she has a dedication to painting people with an attention to how they see themselves and their place in the world and that her subject’s stories are what she will take away the most from this process.

“Any project, when you start, you kind of have a sense of the sort of people you are looking for or the kind of stories that you are hoping to find. And this project, like always, my expectations were just so far exceeded,” she said.

DeCiccio said she is unsure if she will ever meet any of these people again, but did provide each subject with a smaller version of their portraits for them to keep.

“After you paint someone you feel a special kind of connection to them or at least to their work,” she said. “So I can definitely imagine stopping in at the farm, or going to Sarah’s concert, or reaching out to these guys the next time I need lobster, and meeting Arlene for an ice cream date, for sure.”

The portraits will be hanging at the stage at Aselton Park through Labor Day in September.

737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
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