Martha’s Vineyard galleries multi-task


Displaying and selling art is far from the only part of a Vineyard gallery’s job. Proprietors of Vineyard Haven galleries talked recently about how they multi-task.

One way Vineyard Haven’s Kara Taylor, proprietor of Kara Taylor Fine Art, has branched out is by cooperating with the Cleaveland House Poets group on their latest book project. The group plans to use one of her works on its cover.

Ms. Taylor expanded horizons for her art and gallery over the winter months by participating in an art fair in New York and by taking a group of paintings to a New York-based collector’s apartment for a collectors’ mini-show.

“I have been trying to venture out in the world and be more fearless about communicating what I do,” Ms. Taylor says. Her major opening for the season took place July 1.

Ronni Simon of Vineyard Haven’s Simon Gallery, where her jewelry shares space with her husband Peter Simon’s photography, has been busy multi-tasking by completely rearranging the interior.

“We wanted to return to more of a gallery feel rather than a shop,” she says. Her jewelry sculptures have been moved up front, while yarns now reside on the back wall. Because she crochets her jewelry, Ms. Simon brought yarn into the gallery as another way of expanding its offerings and clientele.

Although she doesn’t offer classes, she says, “I love turning people on to knitting and crocheting.” She began carrying a line of yarns almost as a public service.

Another dimension of Simon Gallery comes through its hosting of special events. On July 7, the gallery will hold a signing and celebration for record producer Fred Mollin, who is releasing a new CD, “The Martha’s Lullaby Album.” Mr. Mollin recently produced singer/actress Rita Wilson’s newest CD.

“We love to open the gallery space to others,” Ms. Simon says.

Framing provides an entrée for both customers and new artists at Vineyard Haven’s Kennedy Studios, which carries a variety of local Vineyard art, including drawings by Caroline Zegart, originals by Jodi Apeseche, and photography by Michael Petrizzo. The studio acquired vintage ’50s reproductions of the work of late photographer Nat Fein after the executor of his estate walked in to have some framing done.

“You have everything right here, since we’re a gallery, too,” says co-owner Uta Kirchlechner, herself a photographer. She relies on the studio’s front window displays to alert visitors that Kennedy Studios is more than a framing business.

Vineyard Haven’s Louisa Gould Gallery has sponsored gallery talks since 2004. An accomplished marine photographer, Ms. Gould once gave a talk on her America’s Cup photography.

“People [two older America’s Cup sailors] just came out of the woodwork,” she said. The gallery owner has held several poetry events, in 2006 joining poetry and art in an exhibit and performance, “Word Art.” She has worked with the Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival to hold white linen champagne parties.

Cooperation with other galleries or art organizations is another way Ms. Gould has expanded the gallery’s role. One of her shows consisted of works from the permanent collection of the Martha’s Vineyard Art Association. Although the association runs Edgartown’s Old Sculpin Gallery, that space was not large enough for an exhibition of the size accommodated by Ms. Gould’s gallery.

Later this summer Louisa Gould Gallery will host New England Artists of the Pennsylvania Academy. Vineyard artists Jeanne Staples and Liz Taft will show their work at this event. Ms. Gould also offers private photography lessons and workshop classes. “I really enjoy it,” she says.

Nancy Cramer of Vineyard Haven’s Shaw Cramer Gallery was one of the first to offer artist talks. She has pursued many other innovative approaches to expanding her gallery’s functions. Book signings will happen regularly at the gallery this season, and some of her shows will benefit nonprofits. In the past it has been the West Tisbury Library and Polly Hill Arboretum.

This year Shaw Cramer sent two photography works by Michael R. Beatty to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum to sell. The donation comes not from the artist’s portion of any sale the museum makes; instead the gallery donates what would have been its share of the sale.

Ms. Cramer has invited art teachers from the Island’s schools to bring their classes to the gallery before or after hours to examine and discuss work. Active in the Tisbury Business Association, she is lobbying to expand Vineyard Haven gallery walks to celebrations for all the arts in town. “I’m ready for change,” she says.

Change is the name of the game for galleries in an art world that seems to re-invent itself regularly, and these days that includes multi-tasking.