Time to stroll over to Oak Bluffs Arts District

Alison Shaw's atmospheric photo of ocean, rocks, and sky is one of her new works at the Oak Bluffs Arts District Stroll. — Photo by Alison Shaw

The Oak Bluffs Arts District, on the side of the Campground opposite the heart of town, is the Island’s own mini Soho. A handful of galleries, a couple of boutiques, and two jewelry studios share the neighborhood with homes and neighborhood businesses. Each summer the Arts District hosts lively block party events that attract people from all over the Island.

The first Arts District Gallery Stroll for 2012 takes place Saturday, July 14, from 4 to 7 pm. As always, shops and galleries will offer refreshments and host featured artists. Music will be provided outdoors by singer-songwriter Jeremy Nash, former member and business manager for the a cappella group The Vineyard Sound, and the Tashmoo Trio, fronted by singer Christine Box.

Though many strollers come for the music, food, and mingling, the Arts District Stroll, which sprang from an effort by the earliest galleries in the area to synchronize their openings, is intended primarily as a communal effort by the galleries to launch new shows and raise awareness of the area.

The Alison Shaw Gallery, occupying the former Oak Bluffs fire station (then Fire House Gallery), will feature new work by Ms. Shaw, a popular and critically acclaimed Vineyard photographer. Ms. Shaw has recently published her latest book, “To the Harbor Light, Lighthouses of Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Cape Cod,” with author Brenda Horrigan. Both will sign copies of the new book. The gallery will showcase new work by Ms. Shaw, including lighthouse close-ups and interesting ocean scenes. Ms. Shaw continues to surprise viewers with her range of technique and her unique view of the Vineyard.

This year the gallery will serve locally brewed Offshore Ale beverages and treats from Herring Run Kitchens. The party is a great opportunity for guests to pick up Ms. Shaw’s latest book, along with her 10 previous collaborative efforts.

Across from the Alison Shaw Gallery, Don McKillop and Susan Davy of Dragonfly Gallery will host three of the artists they currently represent. Guests can chat with Jessica Pisano, Laura Wilk, and Wanda Wiggins, as well as an artist couple new to the gallery this year – Peter Lunn and Lynn Francis-Lunn.

Ms. Pisano, who grew up on the Vineyard and previously owned and operated the Belushi-Pisano Gallery in Vineyard Haven, creates moody, magical landscapes in oil and gold leaf. Ms. Wilk, a Connecticut resident, captures flowers and vegetables in vibrant, saturated watercolors. Ms. Wiggins, a New Orleans-based artist, crafts one-of-a-kind collages of women — talking, dancing, gossiping, and bonding — from beautiful African printed fabrics.

Although currently concentrating on his new boutique/gallery in Edgartown, Michael Hunter will participate in the stroll again this year at his original PIKNIK Art & Apparel Gallery on Dukes County Avenue. Mr. Hunter will display new works by the Vineyard’s Dan VanLandingham and Boston-area artists Carl Respiani and Ketz Weiler. Mr. Hunter will also host a trunk show of Indian-inspired jewelry and vintage textiles from artist Chloe Sachs of Boston.

Textile artist Judith Drew Schubert, whose Periwinkle Studio was the first gallery in the area, will feature her lovely textile-inspired pastels of birds and flowers, as well as her latest series of small oil paintings on boards, which she has christened “Vineyard landscapes – with or without sheep.”

Stefanie Wolf will introduce two new lines of beadwork jewelry, both inside her studio and in the courtyard of the Island Interiors complex where her studio is housed. Along with her popular Trilogy glass beadwork, Ms. Wolf is now creating fun, colorful jewelry she calls the Jetson series, and an elegant line of silver and gold leaf work. Ms. Wolf’s neighbor in the multi-business unit, Angel Quinonez of Amity Custom Ink tattoos, will exhibit his artwork and jewelry.

In the category of wearable art, the newly reopened clothing boutique Red Mannequin will offer refreshments to guests and showcase their collection of natural fiber clothing and accessories. The small shop has expanded to include chic, casual clothing, and unique jewelry and bags. Its summer shoes are on sale during the Stroll.

Just around the corner from Dragonfly and a short walk down Vineyard Avenue, jewelry artist Lucinda Sheldon has been crafting and selling her enamel pieces for six years. She will use the Stroll as an opportunity to unveil her latest work and launch a new line of dress-up capes and fabric crowns for kids. She will serve lemonade and cookies and host the littlest strollers with a play castle on her lush lawn, where kids can create art of their own.

This summer the area’s business owners are experimenting with a weekly “mini stroll.” On Thursdays from 6 to 8 pm, shops and galleries will serve refreshments and host featured artists. The Thursday Evenings in the Arts District venture was launched two weeks ago.

Oak Bluffs Arts District Stroll, Dukes County Ave. and environs, Oak Bluffs, Saturday, July 14, 4 to 7 pm.