Salvatore Del Deo: 75 Years in Provincetown

Salvatore Del Deo is a contemporary painter whose 75-year career intersected with some of the most defining elements of Provincetown: the art colony, the fishing community, his two restaurants bearing his name, the dunes.

This exhibition will be a celebration of Del Deo’s life and artistic career, featuring portraits, studio work, and the Italian landscapes celebrating his heritage, Provincetown landscapes, and reaffirm his status as a significant contributor to the legacy of the Provincetown Art Colony and to American art history.

Thank you to this exhibition’s sponsors, Judyth and Dan Katz.


On the occasion of Salvatore Del Deo’s 95th birthday and 75 years of creating art in Provincetown, it is fitting that the Provincetown Art Association and Museum present this exhibition which chronicles Sal’s commitment to this special landscape and its community. 

Over the past year and a half, I have had the pleasure of spending afternoons with Sal in his studio looking at art to select for the show, but also to listen to Sal share his personal experiences and stories about building his life, family and career on this spit of land surrounded by water on three sides.

I am amazed by the wonderment that is expressed as Sal speaks of seeing Henry Hensche give a painting demonstration at the Vesper George School when he was 17 years old – putting blobs of color on a canvas that eventually morphed into a portrait of his friend Margery – Sal reveled that Hensche was a real painter.  That day in art school propelled Sal and his friend, Charlie Couper, to drive 200 miles to Provincetown in an old Studebaker – it took six hours.  After painting a quick watercolor of the dunes, they located Mr. Hensche and spent the next 12 hours in his home as Hensche spoke of Charles Hawthorne and his summer school of painting.

The rest is history, as they say, but there is one part of the story that seems almost unbelievable.  Sal’s older brother, Silvestro, had actually been to Provincetown and wrote about it in a letter.  After Silvestro’s untimely death, Sal acquired his papers and read that Provincetown was a fishing town and a painter’s town- a place where Sal should be.  It was this premonition that was the genesis of Sal’s journey to the end of Cape Cod.

Sal still remains as excited today about being in Provincetown and painting in his studio, inspired by the light, landscape and the people who cycle in and out of town.  This exhibition will feature paintings that emit light and hope, portraits, landscapes, the working community and the metaphysical aspects of Provincetown –according to Sal- what you learn after you have been here for a very long time.

It has been a privilege to spend this special time with Sal, and the paintings that I have selected are personal to our shared experiences.  I am grateful to Romolo Del Deo for making the access to the artwork seamless and to the Board and staff for their unfailing time and commitment to PAAM and its programs.  Sal says that the best things are still in front of him and I can’t wait to see what they are.

Christine M. McCarthy, Curator, September 2023

Image: Salvatore Del Deo (1928-), untitled (portrait of – DeCarlo), courtesy of the artist