Arts & Artisans Trails

Artists have been drawn to Cape Cod for inspiration for decades. Now, some of their out-of-the-way workshops and galleries are yours to browse with the help of a handbook that is an art-lover’s best find. Pick yourself up a copy of the Arts & Artisans Trails of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket and get ready to get wowed.  The book offers prepared itineraries and driving directions along seven trails that point you toward some truly remarkable art.

As curious travelers in search of an adventure, my friend and I decided to give the Sea Captains’ Trail a trial run. With some simple planning and an adventurous spirit you can easily visit several shops and galleries on the Sea Captains’  Trail, which winds through Brewster, Orleans and Eastham, in just a few hours.  And if you plan it right, you’ll end at a place that has some of the best ice cream around - which might just be the perfect way to bribe the reluctant shopper in your midst to come along for the ride.

We begin at Kemp Pottery (9 Cranberry Highway, Route 6A, Orleans), a shop where you can browse as long as you like, and have a great time chatting with father and son potters, Steve and Matt Kemp. You can find something as simple as a mug to hold your chai tea or as elaborate as a gorgeous lamp to create a new focal point in a room. You can even buy a unique porcelain sink to make your bathroom spectacularly special.

If you’re a photography fan, our next two stops in Orleans are a must. First is Artworks! (57 Route 6A, Orleans).  Not only does this shop have some great local painters and print makers on exhibit, they also have an ongoing show of some of the finest photography in the area. It features the work of Orleans resident Rowland Scherman, an internationally known Grammy award-winning photographer.  On display, you’ll find amazing photos of such icons of the 1960s and 70s as The Beatles, Robert Kennedy, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan.

The man who produced those amazing prints, Bob Korn, has a cozy studio right next to the Orleans Whole Food Store. Bob is a master photographic printmaker, whose prints can be found in major collections worldwide. At Bob Korn Imaging (46 Main Street, Orleans) you can view more examples of his fine art prints, talk to him about the art of printing or even sign up for a class with this nationally renowned artist.

Moving along the trail we arrive at the Handcraft House (3966 Route 6A, Brewster) which lives up to its name with skillfully crafted treasures in many mediums. Owners Jeff and Eileen Smith have been at the Old King’s Highway location for over 20 years. Eileen’s beautiful watercolors adorn the walls, while eye-catching jewelry is on display throughout the shop. Must-have finds include lovely handmade miniatures, serving dishes in glass, porcelain and stoneware, and wind chimes of metal and mixed media.

Just a stone’s throw from Handcraft House is Earth-n-Fire Pottery (3752 Route 6A, Brewster), the art studio, gallery and residence of husband and wife potters Andrew and Kathleen Jones.  The openness of the studio allows visitors to take a peek into their workspace where they create whimsical and practical pottery, like the Cape Cod Seagull, a pottery statue sure to make you smile, as well as personalized gift plates.

As we meander along 6A, we are pleasantly surprised by the continuous flow of galleries we find. Debra Ruddeforth and her husband Tom share gallery space at the Ruddeforth Gallery (3753 Route 6A). Debra works in pastels, watercolors and oils, while Tom does fine art photography. The works completely compliment each other in a gallery that is awash in the colors of Cape Cod.

On our visit to Aries East Gallery (2805 Route 6A, Brewster) we meet Painter Geoffrey Smith, the owner and artist-in residence. Smith’s work is imbued with a wonderful light and peacefulness. This contemporary gallery is also open to the works of other established artists, who work in many different mediums and diverse subjects.

At Parsons Art Gallery (2109 Main Street, Brewster) artist Ken Parson works in clay and as a painter. His gallery is full of examples of his rare talent and vision. He paints in both watercolor and oils, and his pottery ranges from stoneware to porcelain to the Japanese method of glazing known as raku. Parson’s pieces are striking, really different from anything else you might find in the area.

This Sea Captain’s Trail is a pottery collector’s paradise and the town of Brewster is its heart. We realize this when we stop at Diane Heart Pottery (1145 Route 6A, Brewster). Diane works almost exclusively in porcelain and does raku glazing as well. Her pieces can be almost iridescent and have a delicacy not often seen.  Heart’s husband, Mark Preu is a photographer whose work is also on display, and captures wonderful views of the Cape.

Filled with awe from our many stops, we feel we deserve just one more. Right down the street from Heart Pottery, on the same side of the road, we find Kate’s Seafood & Ice Cream, a summer snack bar that has the traditional burgers, fries and fried fresh fish. But the best part just might be the ice cream. With many flavors for cones, sundaes or frappes (you are in New England after all) it’s hard to decide! We settled on cones and time to absorb all the wonderful things we’d seen – making our next difficult decision - what gems we just have to go back and buy.

You can order the Arts & Artisans Trails of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket at any of the Chamber’s Visitor Centers, at many local gift shops & bookstores, and online at­