Friday, February 14, 2014

A West End Valentine

This charming valentine is found on the ground at 88 Commercial Street, at Valentine's Guesthouse.
Works of art of all kinds can be found around Provincetown, and in spots where you'd least expect to find them. I first spied this one several months ago when I just happened to step out of a taxi right in front of it. This charming piece of stained glass art has been embedded in a patch of concrete just back from the edge of the sidewalk in front of the path that leads to Valentine's Guesthouse, at 88 Commercial Street. I recently talked with family matriarch Helen Valentine to learn the story of this enchanting piece of art within the view of pedestrians strolling in Provincetown's Far West End.
It's just a bit past the bend in the road where Commercial Street passes the Coast Guard Station, embedded in the concrete next to the sidewalk. In the summertime you'll be drawn to this neighborhood by the aromas of Italian delicacies being served to guests at Sal's Place, right across the street. Helen tells me this sidewalk "valentine" is the most photographed spot in the West End, and here's how it came to be…
A number of years ago the Lobster Pot restaurant held a fish dinner as a fundraiser for the  high school, so the Valentine family was there to support the cause, having dinner and buying raffle tickets for prizes donated by local artists and merchants. Helen's son-in-law, Fred Long, won a beautiful stained glass piece by Truro artist Anne Kane, depicting a footpath leading to a cozy cottage with a welcoming wisp of smoke billowing from the chimney, and bearing a resemblance to the yard and the home that made up Valentine's Guesthouse. The scene was done in the shape of a heart, as well, so it seemed to Fred that this piece of art belonged with the Valentines, and he made it a gift to Helen. It adorned the back yard of the guest house for quite some time.
When someone got the idea to put this lovely work of art in a spot where more people would see it, Jeff Holway set it into cement near the edge of the sidewalk. It now ushers guests through the arched gateway leading up the path to the guest house.
The Valentines first opened the doors of their home to summer visitors in 1910, making this spot one of PTown's longest-running family operated accommodations. Make a point of looking for this charming, whimsical bit of public art the next time you're out for a walk in the Far West End.

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