We’ve now had two opportunities to see “Abstract Climates,” PAAM’s summer show of Helen Frankenthaler paintings. Our first look was at the exhibition’s opening; and then we viewed these astonishing canvases again among meandering crowds at this year’s Provincetown Arts launch party. The magazine’s issue contains a number of articles about Frankenthaler and her time in Provincetown, but the perspective we found ourselves acutely missing was that of longtime Provincetown Arts contributor Eleanor Munro. Munro’s piece on Frankenthaler (originally appearing in 1979, but reprised twenty years later in her revised Originals: American Women Artists),presents this astonishing (and relevant to the PAAM installation) quote about the size of such works: “You need that many feet of flat surface for the illusion, for the light.” Munro’s Frankenthaler profile is part of a section on American women artists who emerged from the world of 50’s Abstract Expressionism, many of them students of Hans Hofmann. Munro’s understanding of who such women were (Hartigan, Frelicher, Lansner, among others) places them in a specific cultural context, a generation largely “bred on the principles of the prewar progressive-education movement.” Viewers (and critics, too) project themselves onto what they see, of course; and we admit that in these enormous paintings, brought back “home” to the Machado-Silvetti spaces, we ourselves recognize a version of the small Provence-inspired watercolors and gouaches of Serena Rothstein, also a Hofmann student — both sets of work being the expression of a New Yorker’s sensibility when she finds herself near the sun-reflecting ocean. Unfortunately, nothing in the current discussion of Frankenthaler’s show approaches the sublime summary achieved by these forty-year-old clauses of Munro: The feeling-tone her paintings have projected has been the serene and beautiful, achieved by insightful control over the elements of form: floating areas of color; occasional fountains, spurts, jets of color thrown against bare canvas; hard-edge panels or curtains of bright flat non-naturalistic color; and … fields of warm earth color pulsating on a languid cycle like red stars or stains of strange phosphorescent hue hovering like mirages at the edge of a world.