Galleries : Gallery Row Grows on Main Street
"Every time I look, one of the stores is becoming a fine arts gallery," observes Jessica Pisano, director of the Belushi Pisano Gallery. Ms. Pisano refers to the nine (soon to be ten) galleries that have made an in-town home for themselves in Vineyard Haven. And while their numbers increase, the galleries manage to maintain singular identities, and a variety of ambience and art, an impressive feat in the span of little more than one block.
Visitors to The Belushi Pisano Gallery are greeted with an espresso bar and the sound of blues that wafts through the speakers. Within the gallery, skylights allow light to infiltrate each room and highlight a wide range of art: McCue pastels, McDermott glasswork, beaded jewelry, and photography.
Amble along Main Street and discover galleries displaying only the art of their owners, such as Kara Taylor, Richard Lee, and Debra Marlin, which bring unique character to their respective spaces.
Most of Kara Taylor paintings are landscapes, displayed in a single spacious room. Glass doors in the back of the gallery lead to her studio.
Richard Lee exhibits his paintings on glass in an oriental-styled cottage (across from Che's Lounge) that sits atop a small deck surrounded by flowers and greenery.
Debra Marlin's new Yellowdog Gallery is filled with her photographs, paintings, and several published books, which include "Yellowdog" and "Yellowpup."
There's a different approach to explore in Jabas Gallery, which displays everything from small items like photo albums, magnets and candles to Allison Shaw photographs and Scott Savage prints. Vineyard paraphernalia like plaques that read "I'm in a Martha's Vineyard State of Mind" decorate the walls alongside small prints by S. Hunech that celebrate the black lab.
Similarly, Kennedy Studios offers a collection of Vineyard landscapes, decorative tiles, John Wightman's animal paintings, and various sports and car portraitures. In a room in the back, the gallery offers framing and map-cutting services.
Across the street and upstairs next to the Green Room, Etherington Fine Art offers a range of paintings that Mary Etherington believes share a common "sensibility." Her collection varies from emerging artists to Thomas Hart Benton, with everything in between: Tom Birkner, Tobias Shepard, Stuart Shils, and Stella Waitzkin - to name a few. Her current gallery, operating in this new structure for three years, no longer holds openings, and is open by chance or appointment.
Back across the street are the elegant Shaw Cramer Gallery (upstairs from an entrance shared with In the Pink) and the recently renovated Louisa Gould Gallery. Both hold openings and rotate shows every two weeks.
The music of Norah Jones can be heard in the background at Shaw Cramer, a classic contemporary fine arts gallery that currently exhibits Leslie Baker's landscape paintings and Kari Lønning's internationally recognized hand-woven baskets.
Along with the art of others, Louisa Gould Gallery exhibits the owner's own photography, ranging in its focus from sailing to her experiences in travel, in addition to paintings and photographs by a scope of other artists. Ms. Gould explains she opened the gallery to pursue her passion for photography and art after leaving behind a career on Wall Street in New York.
Ms. Gould, who has just published her first book, a collection of her photographs of wooden boats, is excited to see more galleries appear on Main Street: "There should be just the right type of art for each art patron or new collectors," she says.
Ms. Gould's hospitable outlook has not been lost on Peter Simon, who plans to open a neighboring gallery on July 1 with his wife Ronnie. "I'm really pulling for all the galleries, the more the merrier," he notes, adding, "That's how Louisa Gould has been towards me. I also told Kara Taylor and she said, 'That's great, more art-lovers to town."
The Simon Gallery will showcase Peter Simon's photography (cards, calendars, and prints) and Ronnie Simon's jewelry, which Mr. Simon describes as "hand-crochet with semi-precious stones on wire."
Mr. Simon doesn't hesitate to disclose what draws him to Vineyard Haven: "I've always had an affinity for Vineyard Haven. It also seems to be a year-round town, more so than other towns, and the galleries help that feel, I think." He adds, "I'm hoping [the galleries] will help the town stay vibrant even after hours."
Peter Simon's hopes do not seem farfetched for those like Kali Wingood, coordinator of the Belushi Pisano Gallery, who believes the emerging art scene in Vineyard Haven is reflective of an artistic culture that permeates the Vineyard. "Let's just put it this way," Ms. Wingood quips, "We are not going to see a McDonald's on Main Street."
Samantha McCoy is a summer resident who attends Cornell University.