Granary Gallery makes art family style

Getting their list and checking it twice, children find specific pieces of art in the rooms at The Granary. — Photo courtesy of Granary Gallery

On summer days at The Granary the gallery doors are kept open wide. Sounds from outside float in — often it’s car doors closing, the crunch and rush of scurrying feet, and voices of enthusiastic children, followed by the hollered instructions, “Do not touch anything.”

While the staff at the West Tisbury gallery likes the fact that parents respect the gallery’s artwork, its policy — which applies to The Field and North Water galleries as well — is that children are welcome.

More than just welcome, children are encouraged and even made the focus of gallery efforts to develop art appreciation. Picasso said it best, “Every child is an artist.” At The Granary Gallery, children are sent to view the displays of art, armed with Art Scavenger Hunt sheets to search for particular paintings, sculpture, and artifacts.

The impact is immediate and observable. The children become focused and intent on finding all of the artwork on their sheet, and celebrate with shouts of “I found it!” echoing through the gallery

Everybody wins. When a child is stumped looking for a particular scene or detail, a few clues from the gallery staff leads them to the destination.

The enthusiasm rubs off on the gallery staff as they observe some lusty competition between siblings, and watch parents becoming engrossed. (The Granary has begun providing an advanced version of its scavenger hunt on its Facebook page.)

Another gallery activity that promotes art appreciation is the Tuesday Talent program. Every other week, one of the exhibiting artists shares his or her work, techniques, and experience in an informal setting. While the gathering of visitors watch, the artists demonstrate their techniques and methods.

The Vineyard has a history of embracing the arts and promoting art education through classes, events, student art shows and Island galleries. Nowhere is art more approachable than on the grounds of the Field Gallery in West Tisbury Center. Posing among Tom Maley’s whimsical dancing figures has become part of family photo albums as well as summer memories.

Over The Granary’s past 50 years, many of the children who first visited with their families and gained an appreciation of the fine arts have returned as adults with their own families in tow to carry on the tradition.

Sara Aibel is the gallery administrator at The Granary Gallery.