(Brett Sokol’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/21; via Pam Green.)
PROVINCETOWN, Mass. — “I don’t have a big angel collection, but …” the “Angels in America” playwright Tony Kushner insisted with an embarrassed laugh. After all, evidence to the contrary — via a sculpture’s outstretched wings — nearly smacked a reporter in the head as he entered Mr. Kushner’s home here. Suspended from the ceiling, just past the doorway, was an infant-size ceramic angel created by the Peruvian-born Philadelphia artist Kukuli Velarde — one of four such angels hanging in the house Mr. Kushner shares with his husband, Mark Harris.
The angels mesmerizingly invoke the symbolisms of Old World Catholicism, Peru’s indigenous culture, and, thanks to their malevolent European-looking faces, the clashes that resulted when these forces met. “I think the faces look like Eisenhower,” Mr. Harris playfully offered after nearly backing into one himself.
“Not everybody loves them as much as I do,” Mr. Kushner dryly countered. “I love their combination of fantasy and politics, their in-your-face, radical, anticolonial critique.” Which isn’t a bad way to summarize Mr. Kushner’s own plays, including the 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning “Angels.” Mr. Harris, a cultural critic, is no less impassioned in his own writing, from his essays for New York magazine to his book-length deep dives into Hollywood.
Provincetown itself is an influence on their work. With its overlapping identities of a Cape Cod fishing village reborn as an art colony, a gay resort, and a nature preserve, it has become more than a getaway from New York, the couple explained.
“We were at a benefit for the Fine Arts Work Center in July 2012 and it hit us,” Mr. Kushner recalled, referring to Provincetown’s artist residency program, begun in 1968 to seed the town with fresh generations of talent. Looking around at the faces in the fund-raiser’s crowd and the cause they had all gathered for, “we realized we’d established roots.” That fall the couple bought a mid-19th-century house there with separate writing offices.
Photo: The New York Times