Writing Art

May 11, 2016 //

Deborah Forman

Alumni Profile Fox Focus Spring 2016BA ‘61 | Author, Journalist

Hometown: Brewster, Mass.

Journalism and juggling: “I didn’t have any difficulty jumping into journalism, for which I probably have to credit Temple. Being a wife and a mother and balancing a career? That might’ve been my biggest challenge.”

Deborah Forman’s training and experience in reporting helped her realize her passion for writing about the history of art and theater in the Cape Cod region.

Since 1899, Provincetown, Mass., and its picturesque coastal surroundings have provided a solid community where artists and writers paint, sculpt, write, and interact.

Deborah Forman, BA ‘61, knows all about the rich, creative history of the seaside town and its home on Cape Cod. She’s produced a documentary about the Provincetown art colony, written a two-volume history, and authored a three-book series on contemporary artists working in the popular New England region.

“Writing about art has always been an interest of mine, and in the last five years I’ve been able to do that almost exclusively,” Forman said.

Forman cultivated her interests in writing and reporting at Temple University’s journalism department, which, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, was housed within the Fox School of Business.

“The journalism department was kind of its own little enclave,” she recalls. “It was really nice and intimate, and felt like a small oasis in a big university.”

The author and writer worked for the student newspaper, The Temple News, and joined the school’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, of which she was president during her senior year. Forman had no difficulty beginning her journalism career after graduation; she and her family moved to Mount Holly, N.J., where she landed a freelance reporting gig at the Burlington County Herald. She eventually moved on to the Haddonfield Herald as reporter and editor.

After moving to Cape Cod with her family in 1976, Forman further developed her journalistic chops as an editor for the Cape Cod Times and editor in chief for Cape Cod View magazine. Forman had already taken up painting, studied art, and enrolled in art classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the School of Philadelphia Museum of Art. However, her beginnings on Cape Cod further ignited her passion for art and art history.

She interviewed experts and artists in the area and learned about the history of the Provincetown art colony. These interviews became the basis for the script she wrote for the documentary, “Art in Its Soul,” which aired on Boston’s PBS station in 1987.

While teaching a class at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, Forman had students asking if there was a book that collected the entire history of the Provincetown art colony. They were surprised to learn there was no definitive historical book on the colony, especially since the National Trust for Historic Preservation named it the nation’s oldest art colony. Since she had a lot of material from her interviews and research, Forman decided to write a book that brought the colony’s history to date. An editor at Schiffer Publishing discovered she was writing the book after speaking with the curator at the Cape Cod Museum of Art.

“It was serendipitous,” Forman said. “I emailed him the manuscript, and within a few weeks I had a signed contract.”

After publishing the two-volume Perspectives on the Provincetown Art Colony in 2011, Forman’s editor at Schiffer wanted her to continue writing about the arts community on Cape Cod. As a result, she wrote three more books: Contemporary Cape Cod Artists: Images of Land and Sea (2013); Contemporary Cape Cod Artists: People & Places (2014); and Contemporary Cape Cod Artists: On Abstraction (2015).

She’s currently working on a book about the history of theater on the Cape, another interest of hers. She writes a monthly art column for the Cape Cod Times, as well as weekly theater and art reviews for capecod.com.

“I love writing, and I love hearing and telling other people’s stories,” Forman said. “I’m doing exactly what I want to do.”