Standing Room Only at Davis House Gallery

Standing Room Only at Davis House Gallery

by -
0
Allen Whiting in his West Tisbury studio with one of his recent paintings. — File photo by Susan Safford

It was a cloudless summer day and like all good farmers Allen Whiting was conscious of the old idiom and out making hay while the sun shines. Taking a break from his work, the artist, gallery owner, and farmer spoke about his first opening of the season at the Davis House Gallery — this year like the past 29, being held on the last Sunday in June.

What started as a simple seasonal display for his prized landscapes has become one of the official signals of the art season, with hundreds of people, many of them celebrities, queuing up to hold reunions and see his latest paintings.

“It is sort of the kick-off [of the summer], when people see each other and make all their wedding and sailing and tennis plans,” Mr. Whiting says. “Lots of people come, and it’s always a mix of the new and the old. It is fun, but it is a lot.”

For Mr. Whiting, the popularity of his opening serves to attest to the fact that that people respect and appreciate his work.

“It is exceedingly flattering that I have to hire a traffic cop for my show,” he says. “If you have an opening and you have to hire a cop, you know you’re doing something right.”

Over the years the artist has perfected the art of the party, preferring to stay in the front yard outside the gallery, away from the standing-room only interior. Outside, he can chat with people and enjoy the festive environment.

“I quite often don’t even come into the house,” he says. “I’m in the yard where we have refreshments and stuff.”

The first summer show is also his self-imposed deadline. Confessing to be prone to procrastinate, Mr. Whiting uses the annual event to motivate himself.”My whole career has been based on the fact that we live in a summer resort community, so you create a deadline for yourself. I think it’s been a good exercise for me to know that every June I must have a body of work,” he says. “Without the deadlines I probably wouldn’t do anything. I tell people I’m glad I’m not rich because I’d probably be sailing somewhere.”

This year’s show will feature a body of new work, which Mr. Whiting feels is particularly cohesive and might even prompt some discussion.

“The paintings are a little more of a group, a little more contemplative this year,” he says. “I think this year’s paintings are a little bluer than usual, so I may hear something about that. It’s not an unhappy blue, just bluer than usual.

Mr. Whiting hopes people will come by after the opening June 27 opening to linger in front of the paintings.

“My battle cry this year is to try and get people to come back some other time after the opening. It is very difficult to see when it’s crowded.”

For Mr. Whiting, the end of the summer show means another fresh start.

“The fun part for me is the day after the opening ends, my next year begins,” he says, adding, “I’ve been very lucky that people like what I do.”