Presenting the history of American Art as seen through the eyes of Provincetown

Joseph Diggs



Born in France and traveling the world with his military family, Joseph Diggs settled in Osterville, MA, as a youth. Here, his family ran "Joe's Twin Villa", a bar and blues place. He received his BFA in 1984 at Southwestern University in North Dartmouth, MA, and continued to paint, while flying around the world as a Flight Attendant, owning a blues place, and managing properties, and almost 30 years later, in 2015, completing his MFA at Massachusetts College of Art and Design/ Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown.

Berta Walker first discovered Joseph Diggs' paintings when he was presented in his Masters Thesis exhibition at the Fine Arts Work Center in 2014. "I immediately connected to Joe's paintings," says gallery owner Berta Walker. "They are unique and totally his own, revealing vulnerability and truth, through luscious movement of the paint. I have followed his work in many exhibitions since, and continue to be moved by his open, ongoing passion, whether it be expressed around storytelling - a huge, raging Moby Dick painting - his paintings on baseball, or around his feelings and observations of land and sea, his love of music, particularly jazz."

In getting to know Joe more deeply, Berta Walker asked him about his heritage and music background and he answered, "Being black does have influence in everything I do, like it or not, so I try to show my truths of racism from my personal perspective. So far, the layers in life are reflected in the layers in my painting. They work for me in telling a more open-ended multi-source enigma that is racism. And, while I'm not a musician, I am somewhat of "a secret" entertainer, specially as MC in the jazz club I owned for years. I'm so fortunate, and I'd like to leave hundreds of thousands of memories of a black man who works hard and gives a damn, believes in family and friends, but moreover himself, and won't let the nay sayers kill his dreams or anyone else's like them."

He continues, "Painting has always been my platform, my voice. To me, painting is magic. Images appear out of nothing, blobs of color transform themselves to a new meaning. Creating art gives me the opportunity to share my experiences. I identify with the power of the image and represent it to my audience. I want my work to invoke thoughts and emotions that will take the viewer on a visual journey."

"Joe is unafraid to experiment," notes Grace Hopkins, artist and Director of the Berta Walker Gallery. "His paintings are abstractions from observation with an evocation of landscape or figure. He was flight attendant for many years and thus his observations of the earth lend a feeling of the infrastructure of landscape from above, inspiring a freedom to create random intervals and odd patterns. Joe's overall message expresses a personal rhythm and intuition, derived from his love of music, and the pure joy of pushing and pulling paint."

One-person exhibitions include, in 2014, the Fine Arts Work Center; in 2015, Provincetown Art Association and Museum Curated by Jim Peters, and The Anaheim Gallery at Massachusetts College of Art and design, curated by George Creamer. Subsequent one-person shows have been presented at the Cape Museum of Fine Arts, Cotuit Center for the Arts, and The Guyer Barn, Hyannis, MA, and participated in many group and juried exhibitions. Joseph Diggs is currently an art instructor for the Cotuit Center for the Arts, Cotuit, and the Department of Youth Services, Brewster, MA.