Artist John Dowd did not reinvent himself when he arrived in Provincetown, Massachusetts, immediately after college. He found himself.
His backstory is not an uncommon one for those drawn to Cape Cod. A native of Western Massachusetts and the son of two teachers, he pursued higher education at the University of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture and graduated with the offer of a job and a career path set firmly in front of him. But before he started work, he decided to spend a summer by the sea and headed for Provincetown. He never left. Today, he divides his year between New York and the Cape.
Rarer is how immediate Dowd’s success was. His job that summer of 1983 was as a houseboy at a bed-and-breakfast, but in his spare time he worked with oils, an avocation begun in childhood when he painted in the basement of his family home. He placed several pieces for sale in a local gift shop, and they drew the eye of a couple of art collectors who tracked him down. They encouraged him to delay his architectural career and spend the next six months painting, a venture they offered to underwrite. Within the year, he sold almost every painting he produced that winter and quickly established a following that continues to grow. He is the headlining artist at Provincetown’s William-Scott Gallery, and such is his reputation and the emotional appeal of his work that 80 percent of his canvases are sold before a show opens.