New Sights: Gallery Hopping

It began rather quietly five years ago in downtown Edgartown, and four years ago in the Arts District in Oak Bluffs: The towns’ art galleries took over the streets for the evening. Doors were thrown open, and the public invited to view the artwork, meet the artists, and get to know the gallery owners.

And come they did. Parades of people spilled over the sidewalks going from one gallery to another, sauntering in and out, talking to the artists and the gallery owners, sampling the wine, the refreshments, and most importantly, taking in the visual displays by locally and nationally known artists.

The strolls provide a treasure trove of all varieties of original work in one fell swoop: sculpture, wearable art and accessories, jewelry, photography, metals, contemporary and traditional paintings.

Gallery strolls have now become an anticipated part of the Vineyard season. It’s a family-style festive evening with Islanders, artists, summer residents and tourists, meeting, greeting, and talking about art.

On July 10, and again on August 14, from 4 to 7 pm, the Arts District Arts Stroll will take place in Oak Bluffs.

In Oak Bluffs, the courtyard of PIKNIK Fine Art & Apparel, with its artifacts and unusual art, will most likely take on the appearance of a block party, with gallery owner Michael Hunter supplying visitors with the inside scoop on his artists and their various processes.

If past years are any indication, there will be clusters of people lingering at Dragonfly Gallery and, directly across the road, the Alison Shaw gallery, at Stefanie Wolf Designs Jewelry Studio, Amity Custom Ink, and Lucinda’s Enamels. It is the combination of art and socializing that lend energy to the occasion.

Edgartown’s “Evening with the Arts,” as the stroll is being dubbed this year, is scheduled for July 15, and again on August 12, from 6 pm to 8 pm. Elizabeth Eisenhauer, owner of The Eisenhauer Gallery in Edgartown, was quoted in The Martha’s Vineyard Times as saying, “The Edgartown Gallery Stroll is not just about the art; it’s a night for the community to come together.”

This year, with its economic constraints and adjustments, gallery owners are especially sensitive to ways of helping art collectors make the best choices. The strolls offer a chance for the public to have dialogues with artists and gallery owners. This year in Edgartown, the participating in-town galleries — Eisenhauer Gallery, Willoughby Gallery, Christina Gallery, North Water Gallery, and Carlin Fine Arts — will collectively provide a diverse range of sculptures, prints, hand-blown glass, original paintings from classic to contemporary and portraits to landscapes, as well as showing the artists who’ve become their clients’ favorites.

Two towns and in all, four nights of artistic pleasures — all free for the taking — leaves no doubt that fine art on the Island is relevant, significant, and very much part of the Island experience.