Ubiquitous and Familiar: The Paintings of Elisabeth Pearl

With a nod to the social consciousness of the New York Realist School, Elisabeth Pearl tells stories through her oil paintings.

By using bright colors, composition and details captured from Provincetown and Boston, she makes street scenes come alive. Elisabeth paints quirkiness into the architecture, the people, and the animals, particularly dogs—after all, she once had a Siberian Husky who ruled the house with an iron paw!

In her Contemporary Icons, she juxtaposes obsolete circuit boards with sacred images derived from medieval and Renaissance art. These circuits, today a constant in our lives, inform our sense of the sacred.

She turns to abstraction in her Cosmic series, which shows an interest in particle physics, eastern mysticism and philosophy. These paintings are created using a contemporary fresco process—carving into the thick surface she has laid onto a wood panel.

Elisabeth explains her process: she starts by taking photographs and making sketches, then uses imagination and memory to tell the story. She adds that if she hits a point where she needs extra inspiration she takes a walk down the street!


Elisabeth Pearl was born in 1945 on Coney Island, Brooklyn. She received her BA from the State University College of New York at New Paltz, and taught art in the New Paltz schools. She then moved to Boston and taught art at Girl’s Latin School. Craving more time for her own painting, Elisabeth trained as a lab technician and worked many years at Newton-Wellesley Hospital before finally moving to Provincetown in 1993 as a full-time painter. She continues to live in Provincetown with her partner, the artist Alexandra Smith. 

She was a member of PAAM’s Exhibition Committee for twenty years.

Elisabeth has exhibited widely, including shows at Art Complex Museum, Duxbury; Concord Art Association; Boston Athenaeum; Cambridge Art Association; South Shore Art Center; Copley Society as a Copley Artist and Life Member; and at Cape Cod Museum of Art. Elisabeth is currently represented by the Larkin Gallery in Provincetown. She was a recipient of a Massachusetts Art Lottery Council Grant. 

Her work resides in many private and public collections including the Fiduciary Trust of Boston, Lifeline Systems and the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.