Galleries : Belushi Pisano Gallery : More Than Meets The Eye
If you are coming into Vineyard Haven on State Road and look to the right just before you reach Main Street, you will see the handsome facade of the Belushi Pisano gallery. All it takes to discover wonderful colors, textures, and forms, and one of Vineyard Haven's hidden treasures is to turn into the drive and park.
Gathered at the espresso bar of the gallery are the two young women who created this place with the commitment to offer an artists' venue where people could "come and hang, meet a friend, have an espresso, and talk about art."
Jessica Pisano returned to the Vineyard early in 2005, with the idea of creating a storefront for the family-run "Second Chance Foundation," started by her stepmother Judy Belushi Pisano in 1991. The foundation's purpose is to provide money to Islanders in need.
Speaking of her stepmother, Ms. Pisano says, "She wanted to give back to the community that had taken her in with open arms so many years ago. Judy's mission has always been to do more and more."
Photos by Ralph Stewart
Ms. Pisano decided to expand the operation, and "give the community more than just money." Being a fine art photographer herself, and having many talented friends working in contemporary styles and media, such as encaustic and assemblage, she wanted to bring their artwork to the Island.
Kali Wingood, who has been working part time for Judy Pisano as her personal assistant since 1997, remembers, "I only knew Jessica over the phone." But when Ms. Pisano began turning her parents' private non-profit into a more public domain, Ms. Wingood agreed to help. "I knew she was a great person in general, and that I could trust her, and get along with her. There's some very serious yin and yang between us," she adds, smiling.
Ms. Pisano takes the role of creative force, while Ms. Wingood handles the administrative tasks. "I'm always the one reaching for the tool box," she laughs. "Between the two of us, we manage to cover everything we need here, from landscaping to curetting." Ms. Pisano chimes in: "She has a certain touch with the espresso machine."
The gallery, in its third season, closed for the first time during the past winter. It allowed Jessica to focus on her art, and to restructure the business. "The first two years we were open I had to cram all my new art work within one month," says Ms. Pisano. "This winter I found my artistic soul. For the first time I feel like I'm creating work that is truly me."
Simplification has been the guiding principal. Showing fewer artists means more attention for those still connected with the gallery, about half from the Vineyard, and half from Ms. Pisano's connections. She is also showing her own images, and more crafts that give their gallery visitors a choice of gift items - lamps, glassware, jewelry, prints, cards, and books.
This year, the gallery relinquished its non-profit status, citing mountains of paperwork as the primary reason.
"We are a family-run operation that gives away its profits," explains Ms. Pisano. "Now, while we run as a for-profit gallery, we will give away the profits at the end of the year."
"I feel like we're new this year, with the changes we've made, and with the winter break. It's a feeling of renewal," says Ms. Wingood.
The two women agree they've come full circle. The Second Chance Foundation started out simple, got more complicated, and has now returned again to grassroots simplicity. The gallery has done the same.
Mr. Wingood sums it up: "I've found work I love; the gallery, the artists, their works, meeting people." She smiles and adds, "Really, this gallery is about relationships.
Fae Kontje-Gibbs is an artist and freelance writer.