Three artists join forces for Chilmark Library exhibit

Ruth Kirchmeier's woodcut, "The Captain Ellsworth West Farm."
Photo by Ralph Stewart

Ruth Kirchmeier's woodcut, "The Captain Ellsworth West Farm."

Three Vineyard artists, longtime friends and collaborators, are exhibiting their work at the Chilmark Library through December 5. They are Edgartown painters Claire Chalfoun and Lyn Hinds, and West Tisbury woodcut printer Ruth Kirchmeier.

Consisting predominantly of landscapes, the show benefits greatly from the synergy created by mixing the work of three stylistically different artists.

Ms. Kirchmeier says she chose to exhibit the Summer and Autumn versions of her large woodcut, “The Capt. Ellsworth West Homestead,” to honor the exhibit’s Chilmark locus. The breathtakingly intricate woodcuts came about after Ms. Kirchmeier went hiking in Tiasquam Valley Reservation near Waskosim’s Rock and happened upon a dazzling view of the homestead. Since the execution of her woodcuts, the view they capture has been obscured by new growth, according to Ms. Kirchmeier. “I call it my Grandma Moses painting,” she says.

Hung to the left of the entrance to the library’s viewing room, these twin woodcuts set the tone for the rest of the exhibit by inviting the viewer to consider how the placement of work influences their reception. In the case of the “Capt. Ellsworth West Homestead,” changing the seasons and coloration in two prints pulled from the same wood block reinvents them.

“I didn’t want to do this alone,” said Claire Chalfoun, who was responsible for arranging the Chilmark Library exhibit. She, Ms. Kirchmeier, and Ms. Hinds are part of a larger group of nine Island painters who frequently show together as well as meet periodically to critique each other’s work. “We are all good friends,” Ms. Chalfoun said. “It makes living here so much richer.”

Echoing some of the colors in Ms. Kirchmeier’s Autumn woodcut, a vibrant floral arrangement of gladioli by Ms. Chalfoun hangs by itself on the wall next to Ms. Kirchmeier’s twin prints. It reminds viewers familiar with her work that she used to paint still lifes exclusively. For the Chilmark show, Ms. Chalfoun also includes four of her recent landscapes.

Her paintings share space on the longest wall of the library’s exhibition room with landscapes by Lyn Hinds, an artist who alternates in style between representational and abstract work. The different approaches — and subjects — of the two artists enhance the viewing experience. With spiky tree shapes that seem to march down a hillside through fields of yellow, Ms. Hinds’s “Great Point Cove I” moves toward abstraction. In contrast, Ms. Chalfoun’s “Beach Shadows” balances marsh grass, sand, trees, and shoreline against a sky with hints of cloud to create an equally inviting but very different composition.

Ms. Hinds’s “Waiting to Go to Sea” deftly blends abstraction and representation by turning a cluster of boats in Menemsha harbor into unexpectedly bulbous shapes. Several vertical shafts of yellow that could be sails drop down above the vessels.

Two of Ms. Kirchmeier’s most recent woodcuts, “Bowl with Fruit” and “Jeff Fishing the Androscoggin,” hang on the adjoining wall next to “Green Barn,” another abstract composition by Ms. Hinds. This grouping completes an exhibit that offers viewers a stimulating and satisfying variety of interpretations of the Island.

“The Island is a wonderful resource,” Ms. Chalfoun said. “I really appreciate it more and more.”

“Claire Chalfoun, Lyn Hinds & Ruth Kirchmeier,” Chilmark Library, through December 5. For information and hours, visit chilmarklibrary.org.