TJ Walton Gallery (Unit 1) | Edgewater Condominium (Building A).
Around town, TJ Walton’s whale flukes may be almost as familiar as the ones out in the sea. Captured on long, horizontal canvases, they are a kind of trademark for an artist whose semi-abstract work includes natural studies, still lifes, and landscapes. Walton has owned the streetfront unit of the Edgewater Condominium since 2003 and the space here has, for several stretches of time, served as her gallery.
Before its condo conversion in 1987, 153 Commercial had been owned for 84 years by members of the Silva-Marshall family, having been purchased in 1902 by John Garcia Silva (1847-1916). A studio building belonging to Manuel Silva, just behind the Commercial Street house, was destroyed by fire in 1932. Four years later, Manuel Silva applied for a tavern license at this address.
TJ Walton donated this Whale’s Tail to benefit the Human Rights Campaign New England, which auctioned it at its 2017 dinner.
After the death of John Silva’s widow, Frances, in 1937, the property passed to three daughters, including Mary (Silva) Marshall (1873-1943). She and her sisters transferred 153 Commercial to the sole ownership of Mary’s son Joseph A. Marshall (1894-1968), who was married to Emma Louise Smith (1893-1980), a descendant through Lorah Standish of Miles Standish, John Alden, and Priscilla Alden. Reference is made in a 1937 Advocate to the construction of the “Marshall cottages” — presumably on the site of Manuel Silva’s studio. The name “Marshall apartments” was also given to the property in the 1950s. The Marshalls also ran the Fishermen’s Market at 128 Bradford Street. “Throughout their marriage, they rented these apartments and cottages out,” Emma’s great niece, Wendy Wilson Hankins, told me in 2013.
Residents of the Marshall apartments included Alphonse F. Wager (1911-1996), an Army veteran of World War II and a meat cutter who was a first cousin of Joseph Marshall through his mother, Phebe (Silva) Wager (1875-1952). Donna (Pereira) Avallone and her husband, John Avallone, a truck driver, lived here in the 1960s as their family grew from one boy to two girls and two boys. The West End Hardware Shop did business here, at least briefly, beginning in 1939. Manuel Raymond was the proprietor.
This 2009 picture clearly shows the add-on nature of the storefront, which was occupied at the time by Strength and Clarity Pilates. Photo by David W. Dunlap.
Two years later, the space was again the TJ Walton Gallery. Photo by David W. Dunlap.
An advertisement from The Provincetown Advocate of 14 December 1939.
A full-page ad from Provincetown Arts in 2012.
Advertisements from 2008 and 2011 showed the gallery at 153 Commercial.
“Aunt Emma Marshall eventually sold the Fishermen’s Market, which was their business and home,” Hankins told me. Marshall moved here and occupied the two top floors until her death. “When I was a child,” Hankins recalled, “we used to swim off the bulkhead of this property at high tide and were not able to touch bottom as the water was very deep here and all the way down the street past Grozier Park. Once the Boatslip was built, the beach and tide level were changed so much that we could then walk out the old walkway right onto the beach sand at the same level. The ladder that used to be used to climb up out of the water to the property was buried forever.”
The property was willed to Emma’s niece, Ruth Wilson, and three great nieces and great nephews, Hankins said, In 1986, a trustee for the estate sold 153 Commercial Street to Donald C. McNeilly and Bernard Frank Cullen. They converted it the next year into a six-unit condo, with four units in the main house and one each in the two out buildings closer to the water. The streetfront unit changed hands a couple of times before it was purchased in 2003 for $193,000 by Tammy Jo (TJ) Walton.
Walton grew up in Newburyport and moved to Provincetown in 1989 to paint. She was described by Margaret Bergman on the Provincetown Artist Registry as being “at the forefront of a new movement of self-taught artists who prefer to learn by trial and error — listening to her inner artist’s voice rather than be heavily influenced by a mentor or a ‘school of art.'”¹ Walton herself explained to Deborah Minsky of The Banner in 2013:
“I learned the hard way that it’s not such a good idea to be all that influenced by others. If my work starts to look anything like another painter’s, I know I’m not painting from my heart but from my head. I’ve been making art all my life and not for any God-given talent or anything. I just like to create; it doesn’t matter what it is. Painting is something that lasts in the blood. It never leaves.”²
Walton opened her first gallery in 1993 because “nobody would show my work,” she recalled for a profile in The 2012-13 Provincetown Gallery Guide. For a time around the turn of the 21st century, her gallery was in the B. H. Dyer & Company building, at 173 Commercial Street. Since then the TJ Walton Gallery has alternated in this space at No. 153 with other commercial tenants. In 2009 and 2010, for instance, this was Strength and Clarity Pilates, a school and studio established by Paul Shaun Edwards. Walton returned again before the storefront was occupied in 2014 by Jo Hay Open Studio. (The TJ Walton Gallery decamped for 346 Commercial Street, the former Shop Therapy building.)
As of 2019, Walton’s gallery was back at 153 Commercial Street.
¶ Last updated on 13 January 2020.
Wendy Wilson Hankins wrote on 22 July 2013: This property — the main house and the two cottages — belonged to my great aunt, Emma Marshall, and her husband, Joseph Marshall. Throughout their marriage, they rented these apartments and cottages out.
When Uncle Joe Marshall died in 1963 [This date conflicts with information in the main article — DWD], Aunt Emma Marshall eventually sold the Fishermen’s Market, which was their business and home. Emma Marshall moved here to 153 Commercial Street and occupied the two top floors until her death in the early ’80s. The property was willed to her niece, Ruth Wilson, and three great nieces/nephews. Eventually, the property was sold out of the family in the later ’80s.
When I was a child, we used to swim off the bulkhead of this property at high tide and were not able to touch bottom as the water was very deep here and all the way down the street past Grozier Park. Once the Boatslip was built, the beach and tide level were changed so much that we could then walk out the old walkway right onto the beach sand at the same level. The ladder that used to be used to climb up out of the water to the property was buried forever.
153 Commercial Street on the Town Map.
Also at 153 Commercial Street:
• Edgewater Condominium (Building B).
• Edgewater Condominium (Building C).
Thumbnail image: Photo, 2018, by David W. Dunlap.
For further research online:
• Emma Louise (Smith) Marshall (1893-1980)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 191445644.
• Joseph A. Marshall (1894-1968)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 139135430.
• Mary (Silva) Marshall (1873-1943)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 138279168.
• John Garcia Silva (1847-1916)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 35386594.
• Alphonse F. Wager (1911-1996)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 162503132.
• TJ Walton
Bergman, Margaret, “TJ Walton: Non Sequitur Sequential Detachment,” Provincetown Artist Registry, 2001.
Minsky, Deborah, “Twenty Years and Going Stronger, T.J. Walton Opens Mid-Career Show in Provincetown,” Wicked Local/The Provincetown Banner, 6 June 2013.
“TJ Walton Gallery,” The 2012-13 Provincetown Gallery Guide.
¹ Bergman, Margaret, “TJ Walton: Non Sequitur Sequential Detachment,” Provincetown Artist Registry, 2001.
² Minsky, Deborah, “Twenty Years and Going Stronger, T.J. Walton Opens Mid-Career Show in Provincetown,” Wicked Local/The Provincetown Banner, 6 June 2013.