Galleries : Artistic Leap
Opening an art gallery is an enormous undertaking, one that involves inspiration, business acumen, creative expression, honed intuition, artistic instincts, and blind faith.
Kim Nye, who moved to the Vineyard in 1998 from New York, had been contemplating opening an art gallery for several years. She knew of the perfect space in Oak Bluffs - "It was a white elephant I kept driving by" - but she waited for the right time to present itself. "I felt there would be a time when I would be ready. I was in awe of it, and afraid of it as well. I had to embrace it with confidence and passion," she pauses and adds, "but it was overwhelming."
After renting the space at 8 Uncas Avenue for a year, Ms. Nye decided last December the time had come to "Create a venue for the beauty that inspires me."
The result is the NYE Gallery, more typical of those galleries nestled in SoHo or Chelsea in New York City than any found on the Vineyard. Its two spacious and expansive rooms are reminiscent of a SoHo warehouse with its huge windows, fresh paint, and ceiling spotlights. The layout, as Ms. Nye describes it, is "simplistically inspired" in order to do justice to the artists' works.
And it all comes together Saturday, July 5, when the new gallery makes its debut with a show of the paintings of two notable Island artists, friends with unique and distinct styles: Enos Ray and Rez Williams.
Both artists are enthused about the gallery's space and what it means to them pictorially. Mr. Williams, who will be showing his large canvasses of New Bedford steel fishing boats, is pleased to be able to explore the elements of large canvasses that limited storage space in his own West Tisbury studio threatened to prevent.
Mr. Ray, known for his primitive adaptations of street and carnival scenes, welcomes the liberation of a large space in which to paint murals. His brilliantly colored, often decorative art is an extension of his life experiences, and hearing him talk about his work is listening to his life's adventures.
Ms. Nye, a strikingly attractive and affable woman, first encountered Mr. Ray's canvases in Garcia's deli in West Tisbury, where she was "...struck by how beautiful they were, and dumfounded why they were not hanging in a gallery." The gallery owner says she was "reaching out into the dark," when she contacted Mr. Ray, with no idea that he was a lifelong artist with a wealth and variety of work. "Once I got to see what he had stashed," she says, "I felt as though I had stumbled upon a treasure."
Equally excited to represent Rez Williams, Ms. Nye describes his "bright color, sculptural surfaces, industrial shapes, anti-rural pastoral and the brutality of the machines... His large vibrant canvases feel raw and alive to me,"
It is a reciprocated appreciation. Mr. Williams says, "I've been dreaming of this for years. So many of the [Vineyard gallery] spaces are commercial spaces or private spaces that have been retrofitted. These spaces aren't really designed for, and don't do justice, to the art."
Though she has never been in the art business before - Ms. Nye lived for 14 years working as a model in New York - she has an appreciation for the fine arts. "My work took me around the world, and I was exposed to so many talented people. They were so good at what they did," she says, explaining that she interprets art in the same way she interpreted design: both involve a great deal of inspiration and talent. "The art world to me is an edge," she notes, "just like music and fashion. I love all those elements and am excited about pulling them together in a space that injects energy into them."
Ms. Nye recognizes she is treading upon new waters on the Vineyard. "I have a trepidation that I am doing things in such a loud way," she admits. "But both artists command that. I'm showing them on an urban level."
Despite the anxiousness that comes with a new venture, Ms. Nye looks forward to the opening. "I feel like a kid in a candy store," she admits, "I want to buy all the paintings that I'm showing. I keep saying to myself, don't get attached."
The opening reception at the NYE Gallery on Uncas Ave. in Oak Bluffs is on Saturday, July 5, 7-10 pm. Enos Ray and Rez Williams. 508-693-9700.
Samantha McCoy is an Edgartown summer resident and student at Cornell University.