Granary Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard launches season

Granary Gallery artist Kate Madsen groups three sheep in a field for "Garden Party," part of her upcoming show. — Photo courtesy of Granary Gallery

West Tisbury’s Granary Gallery welcomes warm weather and a new season with an opening reception on Sunday, June 17, from 5 to 7 pm, for artists Barry Rockwell, Kate Madsen, Heidi Lang Parrinello, and Wendy Lichtensteiger.

“We are as excited about this season as we have been in a long time,” says Granary director Chris Morse. He is discovering an enthusiastic pulse on the Island and a new optimism. The Granary acquired a lot of new work over the winter, according to Mr. Morse, including antiques and accessories from Vineyard estate sales. The new inventory includes several paintings by the late up-Island painter Stan Murphy.

Work by the four featured artists, regulars in the Granary stable of nearly 100, reflects the spirit of the season. Both Long Island residents, Mr. Rockwell and Ms. Madsen are friends and have often shown together. Mr. Rockwell’s colorful, folk-art influenced paintings in acrylic depict a Vineyard world where good humor reigns over a lively clutter of people, objects, and animals.

Ms. Madsen, who also works in acrylic, favors a quieter palette in which she often pairs or groups farm animals or birds, bringing into focus their behavior and worlds. Her landscapes can span up to eight feet. Black-and-white highlights help define her subjects.

Summer Island resident Heidi Lang Parrinello works from photographs that she transforms into watercolors that reach beyond their photo-realist origins. Purple buds at Polly Hill Arboretum, a crop of brilliant red-and-yellow tulips, or a crowded Edgartown street may catch her eye.

“I will paint whatever sparks my creative spirit, whether it be a beautiful landscape, sun-kissed flower, or an old battered building,” Ms. Lang Parrinello writes in her artist’s statement. “Having a strong sense of the interconnectedness of our world, I see a lot of human emotions/characteristics in all of nature.”

Wendy Lichtensteiger imbues her woodcarvings of birds — her specialty — and other creatures with an airiness that belies the medium. The Vermonter apprenticed for six years with her father, Lance Lichtensteiger, in his New Jersey garage after running a gallery on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She has created her own style that has proved to be very popular, according to Mr. Morse.

Ms. Lichtensteiger uses American wormy chestnut reclaimed most often from log cabins and bridges, then adds an oil-base stain on the end product to retain the character of the wood. Approximating the birds’ coloration can be a challenge, since, as she points out, it’s impossible to imitate Mother Nature. An acrylic semi-gloss finish seals the stain and makes the wood’s grain and colors pop. As the wildlife people see every day, birds provide her most popular subject.

Ms. Lichtensteiger loves crows, but she thinks people either love or hate them. “I think they’re just beautiful,” she says. She most often carves shore birds, finding their long beaks and antics “nice to play with” as a carver. Other creatures in her repertoire, which focuses on sea life, include dolphins, lobsters, crabs, and otters.

An area she would like to move into is carving other woodland critters, like foxes. That will depend on finding the right wood. American wormy chestnut is hard to find, and the artist is thinking about experimenting with other woods.

“I love the act of carving wood and working with my hands,” Ms. Lichtensteiger writes in her artist’s statement. “I love reclaiming what is thought to be waste, and creating something to be appreciated.”

“It’s a fun time of year,” says Mr. Morse. He looks forward to welcoming back old clients and new on the Granary’s sun-dappled courtyard at its upcoming reception. Work by Ms. Lichtensteiger, Ms. Lang Parrinello, Ms. Madsen, and Mr. Rockwell will be on view at the Granary from June 17 to 30.

Opening Reception for Barry Rockwell, Kate Madsen, Heidi Lang Parrinello and Wendy Lichtensteiger Group Show, Sunday, June 17, 5–7 pm, The Granary Gallery, West Tisbury. Hours: Mon.-Sat., 10 am-5 pm; Sun., 11 am–4 pm. For information, call 508-693-0455 or visit