Creative Life

Our series Creative Life discontinued on October 30th, 2017. It has been replaced by Ways of Life

The Creative Life archive lives on this page. Creative Life offered an audio tour of arts, culture, and inspiration on the Cape and Islands. Our region is rich with creative diversity, and so are the stories we tell.

Creative Life is edited by Jay Allison.

Creative Life is made possible by The Circle of Ten, ten local businesses and organizations committed to local programming on WCAI.

A Battle Over a Sculpture that Doesn't Exist

Dec 3, 2015
Photo by Sally Helm October 2015

Seattle, Juneau, and Gloucester all have fisherman’s memorials. But Provincetown doesn’t—even though it was one of the first fishing ports in the United States. Local sculptor Romolo Del Deo has a design ready, but not everyone wants to see it built. 

Hatchel and Strand

Alexandra La Paglia collects antiques—specifically, she loves 19th century farm handtools. But she doesn't just leave them lying on the shelf. She takes them apart and rebuilds them into lamps. They're abstract, nostalgic pieces of art. But La Paglia says she never would have followed her creative passion without the support of the Nantucket community.

Earth Housing: an Idea 40 Years Ahead of Its Time

Oct 13, 2015
Kolin Pope

If you looked down on the Cape Cod mall from the sky, you’d see a huge black roof surrounded by hundreds of parked cars. If the late architect Malcolm Wells had his way, all of that would be invisible. Malcolm was an underground architect, and on the leading edge of thinking about passive building design, sustainability, and ecological impact. His buildings aren’t simply covered with green roofs, they’re buried on all sides, or nestled into the sides of hills like Hobbit Holes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Justine Thieriot

Sanette Groenewald knew she wanted to be a chef from age six. She grew up on a farm in South Africa and spent her childhood foraging around her backyard for things to cook up. When she was old enough, she decided to come to Cape Cod and try to make money from her passion. But when she arrived she discovered that her adventurous, African-inspired style was too “out there” to suit local tastes.

Captain Mike Orbe sells more oversized fish each year than many fisherman will catch in a lifetime. But his fish won't be winding up on the dinner table. Mike’s fish are wooden carvings, ranging between two and eight feet long. His most popular carving? The white sperm whale. 

A Long Held Dream Flourishes at the Piano Keyboard

Aug 17, 2015

Both Kathy Gruel and Karen O’Conner always wanted to play the piano, but it took them a long time to find their way to the piano bench. They each had their own fears and insecurities that kept them from trying. And so, for many years, their dream of playing the piano was buried beneath everyday life. But now that they have finally started, they never want to stop.

Kat Sampson

When Richard Bertman went to California to pursue a degree in architecture, he left with a serious hobby after taking an elective course in welding.

“I started to make this thing, and I didn’t like it,” Bertman said. “When it was completed, I threw it in the trash. I was walking around the campus and someone said, ‘Hey, I saw your piece in the museum.' The professor had taken it out of the trash and put it in the museum. And I thought to myself, ‘Well, maybe I have some abilities here, and I should continue.’ But I really love to do it.”

Photo by Davis Land

Lobster traps become lamps, boat hulls become wall sculptures and portholes become ice buckets. All that happens in a 30 by 50 foot space with 40 foot ceilings in South Chatham. Scott Feen founded his company, the "Atlantic Workshop: Repurposing Redefined" five years ago and thinks that he's made 5000 pieces so far.  

Drumming Out PTSD

Jul 6, 2015
Jonathan Earle

Dave Brown, a Vietnam War veteran, lived with undiagnosed PTSD for decades. Instead of getting help, he dealt with the lingering stress of combat by staying really, really busy – working multiple jobs, raising a family, and mastering hobby after hobby. Most of those hobbies came and went, except one – drumming. 

Josh Swartz

The Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra had their final performance of the 2015 concert season in May. They performed the Carmina Burana—a piece straight from the “Top 10” hits list of classical music. But there’s more to it than meets the ear.

Mark Bramhill

Alex Valentine had his career-defining moment of clarity early in life. He was five, watching a production of “Annie” with his mother. It was there, at the Zieterion Theater in New Bedford, where Alex realized that he must be on stage. 

Now 36 years old, Alex has trouble recounting just how many plays he’s been in. Along the way he’s discovered – as does almost everyone, eventually – that to make a living while pursuing your dreams it might require a miracle.

Lucy Kang

 Irreverent. Visionary. Provocative. Jay Critchley’s performance art has been called many things. Since his reinvention as a “born-again artist,” Jay has made his own unique creative mark in Provincetown and beyond.

As he confronts his years of artwork for a retrospective, he muses on his unorthodox path to art – one that takes him through unemployment, a battle with town hall, and a love affair with sand.

Reinventing DIY on Cape Cod

May 4, 2015
Phoebe Flanigan.

Doug Butler is something of a Renaissance man: he’s an inventor, a tailor, an engineer. And whether he’s imagining gadgets from the future or reconstructing items from the past, he’s always making something.

Minor Key

Apr 20, 2015
Mary Quintas

Bryson Alexander is a Contemporary Classical music composer.  He’s composed nearly 40 pieces of music…and all by the age of 16 - without knowing how to read or write music.  For our Creative Life Series, Mary Quintas brings us his story from North Truro.

Bryson is also a self-taught accordion player and composer.  You might find him busking in Provincetown, or playing with the band Johnny and the Washashores.

In the Unlikeliest of Places

Mar 30, 2015
Mary Decker

Cape Cod was once home to a thriving punk scene. But, in recent years younger generations have fled to greener pastures for more affordable lifestyles and other young people. There is however one relic from the Cape’s punk heyday.