Louisa Gould: Ready to celebrate

Louisa Gould: Ready to celebrate

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She’s weathered fire and flood, renovations and recession since first opening her gallery on August 5, 2003. Originally located on Beach Street Extension, the Louisa Gould Gallery moved to its present location at 54 Main Street, Vineyard Haven three years ago. Along with the dramatic increase in square footage came a plethora of unforeseen events. This month, Ms. Gould will mark her seventh anniversary as a gallery owner with a heartfelt celebration.

A widely respected maritime photographer and painter, Ms. Gould says that the last seven years have taught her the value of a crucial character trait: perseverance. “A lot has happened,” she says, a half-smile punctuating her understatement.

“A lot” for most people doesn’t mean surviving two building fires, sprinkler system floods, faulty flooring, and months of painstakingly overseeing repeated renovations. “On the plus side, I have a great list of proven remodelers,” she says, wryly offering to provide names.

The energetic and charismatic Ms. Gould opened the doors to her first Vineyard Haven gallery on Beach Street Extension seven years ago with the intention of providing her clients a place to meet with her to discuss their photographic needs. She renovated the 425-square-foot space and began showing her own photographs there as well. Best known for her dramatic yachting photographs, her subjects range from maritime to travel, Vineyard scenes, portraits, fashion, editorial, stock, and weddings. By the summer of 2006 she decided to show other artists’ work in addition to her own.

Needing to expand, Ms. Gould closed the Beach Road gallery and leased a former furniture store at 54 Main Street, opening in April 2007. With quadrupling the space, the new gallery offered her the opportunity to represent the work of 15 to 20 other artists on her freshly painted white walls.

Leaving shortly after opening her doors to shoot the America’s Cup race for the French national team, Ms. Gould returned to the Island expecting a busy Memorial Day weekend. Instead, she found herself digging out from the aftermath of a third-story fire in her building and its resulting water damage. The artwork she housed was somehow unscathed. A replaced floor was defective and replaced once again. Then a sprinkler pipe burst in January 2009. By the time a small fire broke out in the back of 54 Main Street in May 2010, Ms. Gould says she merely took it in stride.

“Each time the artwork in the gallery remained unharmed,” she says. “I looked at it as a sign.”

In addition to her own photography and digital painting, Ms. Gould displays a wide variety of artists and their work: painting, sculpture, handcrafted jewelry, glass, photography, new media, furniture and ceramics. Although she says her gallery aesthetic leans toward Vineyard themes she enjoys “shaking it up” with shows featuring abstract, European, and sporting art. She regularly exhibits the work of 25 artists, with as many as 60 participating in special shows. “They’ve all come to me,” she says, with pride.

She chooses the artists she represents for their talent, the style of their work, and their nature. “My relationship with my artists is paramount.” Her artists include John Holladay, Jeffrey P’an, Gray Park IV, Christopher Pendergast, and Joan Kennedy.

“I like to offer artists an opportunity to expand beyond traditional Vineyard realism,” she explains. “I try to keep things fresh, and I appreciate change.”

She offers design and consulting services and has recently launched a new venture: Martha’s Vineyard Workshops — destination workshops on the Vineyard in many genres of art, photography and writing.

Acknowledging that her program will “take time to build,” she promises a faculty of “nationally and internationally known teachers” next season.

Ms. Gould will open a show of her work tonight, Thursday, August 19. An anniversary celebration will be held on Saturday, August 21, from 5 to 7 pm.

“Seven years is a milestone in light of my history,” she says. As she describes the outpourings of community support she has received, including phone calls, letters and offers to help, tears fill her eyes and for a moment, she is unable to speak. Then, with a wave of her hand, she says, “I wouldn’t be here without the people of this Island.”

Tonight, August 19, 5 to 7 pm, Opening reception, New Work by Louisa Gould. Saturday, August 21, the gallery’s anniversary celebration, 5 to 7 pm. Louisa Gould Gallery, 54 Main Street, Vineyard Haven 508-693-7373.