Susan Rand Brown, Banner Correspondent
“People are always surprised to learn that I’m a part-timer.”
Susan Rand Brown (right) with siblings Stephen Rand and Deborah Rand, East End beach, 1950's (photo by Lily Rand)
Susan Rand Brown first came to Provincetown in 1954 with her parents Lily and Herbert Rand and younger siblings Stephen and Deborah. Their first East End rental, at 600 Commercial Street, was owned by Jeanne Busa, mother of Chris Busa, founder and publisher of Provincetown Arts. Susan, best known in town as a non-fiction writer, now writes about Provincetown artists and serves on the Board of Directors of this highly regarded publication, an instance of synchronicity pleasing her adult self.
Hailing from New York City and drawn to the town’s Bohemian vibe, the Rand family began their Provincetown journey renting from late June through Labor Day in East End locations including the top floor of the yellow Merrymeeting House and an antique cottage on Snow Street with a view of Provincetown rooftops. Her mother’s painting of this iconic townscape is hanging in her Commercial Street home, which her parents (now buried in the Provincetown cemetery) purchased in the early 1960’s. The artist Jane Kogan, Susan’s cousin, also bought a home in town and became a year-rounder. Susan’s children and grandchildren are the latest generations to consider Provincetown their family home.
As a teen, Susan worked at the Dairy Queen (now the site of Victor's). She recalls listening to blues singer Mose Allison at the A-House and two decade laters, watching performers Divine and Wayland Flowers. During the 1960s and 1970s, near neighbors like Portuguese lobsterman Louis Silva befriended the family. Susan states, "I feel the loss of a stable neighborhood, even during the summer months, as condo owners come and go.”
When not in Provincetown, Susan lives in Hartford, Connecticut with her husband Daniel. After earning a Doctorate from the University of Connecticut, Susan worked in college administration. As soon as she could, Susan began living in town four months a year. She has redirected the bulk of her charitable donations from Hartford to Provincetown, supporting FAWC, PAAM, Center for the Arts at Castle Hill, SKIP, HOW, the Swim For Life and more. A year-round friend refers to folks like her as “bi-townies.”
Susan treasures being in positions where as a writer she can support Provincetown art and artists. After editing a weekly paper in Hartford, she was hired in 1979 by Duane Steele to be the summer arts reporter for The Advocate, interviewing painters and performers from Robert Motherwell and Philip Malicoat to Warhol superstar Holly Woodlawn. In 2003, Susan began writing for The Provincetown Banner, a connection that continues (artists profiled include Paul Kelly, PPRTA member). She also writes about Provincetown artists for Art New England.
Active in the theatre community, she participated in the Provincetown Theater’s celebration of the town’s history as the birthplace of the modern American theater, and, during the 2016 Centennial celebration of Eugene O’Neill’s first theatrical home, presented an illustrated talk about early Provincetown artists and writers at the town library.
Susan is grateful for the diversity of her friendships here. Indeed, Susan is so visible in the community that “People are always surprised to learn that I’m a part-timer,” she says. Her message to other Provincetown tax-paying homeowners who vote elsewhere: “Our demonstration of gratitude and support of the year-round community for maintaining Provincetown as a mecca for independent thinking and creative action – from individuals who remain in town despite obstacles, to our many essential non-profit organizations and the galleries who exhibit artists with Outer Cape roots – is one of the most important things we can do to insure the heritage of this fragile outpost.”