The Cape Cod Art Bar owner Alexandria Tyber says anyone can be an artist—if they tryBy Marina Davalos
Alexandria (Ali) Tyber, who owns The Cape Cod Art Bar in Mashpee Commons, says that as a child, even though she was always drawing and making things, she never thought of herself as an artist. “I was always under the false pretense that you had to be born with some kind of special talent,” she explains, dismissing a common misinterpretation that some are born artists and others are not.
Ali’s mother, the late Callie Lewis Tyber, an artist herself, was Cape Cod’s first yoga teacher. “Hardly anybody even knew what yoga was back in 1968,” says Ali. “They thought it was a weird food that you ate.” Her mother always encouraged creativity, and it was her brother, sculptor Peter Tyber, who first inspired her to paint. He gave Ali some silk scarves and suggested that she paint designs on them. Before she knew it, she was selling them. “I would wear them to my mother’s yoga classes and people would buy them from me,” says Ali. “I experimented and practiced and I made lots of mistakes, but they were just lessons. I got better and better.”
After graduating from high school in Falmouth, Ali and her family moved to Martha’s Vineyard, where she envisioned owning a painted-clothing store. “In the winter of 1988, two friends and I basically spent the winter in the basement, painting some 2,000 articles of clothing.” She opened Island ArtWear in Oak Bluffs in the spring of 1989 and it closed one year later. “At that point, I decided I really wanted to bring my art up a level.” She began taking classes with marine and landscape artist Christie Velesig, with whom she studied for several years. She also visited various galleries she admired and asked if she could take classes from them. “Some ignored me, some welcomed me,” she recalls.
In 2007, Ali and three fellow artists opened Three Fish and a Ram, a nonprofit community art center in Mashpee Commons, with the premise of selling art and donating proceeds to local charities. The center offered classes in painting, drawing, clay, fiber art, found art, cartooning and yoga. “My passion has always been to show people that we’re all creative.” Ali started teaching beginner-level art classes and each student would produce the same painting. “I googled paint party and realized it was a very big thing in the South. It made me decide to call them paint parties instead of masterpiece workshops. I thought it sounded less intimidating.” Three Fish disbanded in 2013, and Ali formed The Cape Cod Art Bar.
In addition to paint parties, The Cape Cod Art Bar offers workshops in oil painting and watercolor, and classes in mixed-media collage, jewelry making and clay. Ali has taught art classes at the Falmouth Artists Guild and Cotuit Center for the Arts, and her work has been shown in Woodruff’s Art Center in Mashpee Commons and Falmouth Hospital.
Her passion for bringing out each person’s creativity is evidenced by the fact that many paint party attendees become regulars and some have been coming for years. “You absolutely don’t have to be born with special talent,” says Ali. “It can be learned by anybody with the desire to try.”