Martha’s Vineyard Art Association adds new members, new works

Janis Langley talks with photographer Christopher Wright about one of the pieces on display at the Old Sculpin exhibition on Sunday evening.
Michael Cummo

Janis Langley talks with photographer Christopher Wright about one of the pieces on display at the Old Sculpin exhibition on Sunday evening.

After a jury of artists met to discuss entrance applications last summer, the Martha’s Vineyard Art Association (MVAA) officially welcomed three new artists into the group last Sunday, June 15, with the annual New Members Show at Edgartown’s Old Sculpin Gallery.

Melinda Fager's photographs are among those on display at Old Sculpin this week.

Michael Cummo

Melinda Fager’s photographs are among those on display at Old Sculpin this week.

The Island-inspired artwork of MVAA’s newest members, photographers Melinda Fager and Christopher Wright and painter Amy Thompson Size, currently decorate the walls of the sail-loft-cum-gallery where MVAA makes its home. Familiarity with these artists’ names should come as no surprise; according to gallery manager Jennifer Bottone, applicants must meet one main criterion to be accepted into the association: a strong Martha’s Vineyard tie.

“The gallery itself has a lot of character and a lot of connection to the Island,” said Ms. Bottone of Old Sculpin, which, according to the MVAA website, is more than 240 years old. The front door entrance across from the Chappy Ferry leads to a space dedicated to new and existing members’ current works, while a neighboring room contains the association’s permanent collection.

Each July and August a jury of existing MVAA members, who are roughly 60 strong, select new members based on an aim for diversity in the season’s works, according to Ms. Bottone, who described the new members’ art as “alive and thriving” in a recent interview with The Times. “The new works bring a freshness to the gallery,” she said.

The works of three new MVAA artists premiered at Old Sculpin Gallery last weekend.

Michael Cummo

The works of three new MVAA artists premiered at Old Sculpin Gallery last weekend.

Melinda Fager

Photographer Melinda Fager first visited Martha’s Vineyard when she and her husband, Jeff, traveled here on their honeymoon, and she has since spent summers on the Island with her husband and three children for the past 30 years.

“The Vineyard is the kind of place where I love to pick up a camera and get lost on the Island for an hour or two,” Ms. Fager told The Times in a phone interview. “I’m drawn to beautiful things around us, whether they’re in the landscape, the natural, the birdlife, or the kinds of homes people live in.”

Ms. Fager and her family reside year-round in New Canaan, Conn., and return each summer to their Chappaquiddick home. The Island’s impact on her work can be seen in each of her New Members Show works, which include giclee and watercolor prints of wildlife, black and white portraits of fisherman and Ag Fair-goers, and images of Chappaquiddick.

The show at Old Sculpin Gallery is Ms. Fager’s first gallery exhibit, though it is not the first time she has shown her artwork to the public. In 2013 she published a book of photographs and recipes documenting her family’s sustainable living on Chappaquiddick, titled “Living Off the Sea.”

Ms. Fager’s images will again be showcased at Old Sculpin Gallery from August 30-September 5. More information about her work is available at her website, melindafager.com.

Amy Thompson Size

Amy Thompson Size’s works depict an eclectic array of Island subjects and beyond; her collection in the New Members Show includes mixed media images of birds, landscapes, and robots.

“As a place, the Island is inspiring,” she said. “I feel most comfortable painting here.” Her recent paintings consist mainly of watercolor crayon or charcoal drawings and collages painted over in acrylic.

Ms. Size lives on the Island with her family, and when she’s not working on her own artwork she’s developing that of Island children as an art teacher at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School. She has taught MVAA classes for the past four years.

Her paintings have been featured at Island galleries such as Featherstone Center for the Arts and The Field Gallery, as well as others around New England. She will exhibit once more at Old Sculpin this summer from August 16 to 22.

Christopher Wright

Christopher Wright is a fine art waterscape and landscape photographer who specializes in nighttime photography. His repertoire focuses mainly on Vineyard subjects, which he has been documenting since his family moved to the Island nearly 40 years ago. After stints in New York, New Mexico, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, and California, he made West Chop his permanent home in 2003.

Mr. Wright credits the Island with an “enormous and incredibly positive” impact on his work.“No matter which of those places I lived in, I would always feel a slight pulling sensation in my stomach to come back to the Island,” he said in an interview with The Times last week. “It’s kind of like when you’re in love and that person is far away.”

The love and admiration Mr. Wright feels for his Island home are tangible in his photography, which suggests a certain respect for the Island and the natural occurrences that befall it. “Myinspiration for all of the work I’ll be showing, and for my work in general, isthe balance of light and darkness and the beauty there within,” he said.

Among his works highlighted at Old Sculpin are film and digital prints infused on aluminum metal and traditional matted images of the 2011 Super Moon as seen from Lucy Vincent, and the damage and restoration of West Chop during and after Hurricane Sandy.

Mr. Wright will return to Old Sculpin with a show running August 2 to 15. In the meantime his artwork can also be found at A Gallery in Oak Bluffs, where he is represented, and at Bryn Walker in Vineyard Haven. For more information about his work, visit cwrightartistry.com.

New avenues

This year MVAA celebrates its 60th anniversary, and with this milestone come some evolutions in the type of artwork represented by the association. “We’re trying to bring a lot of new avenues to the gallery,” said Ms. Bottone. “We have our student scholarship show coming up. Some students worked with ceramics; we’ve never shown ceramics before.”

The New Members Show will run until Friday, June 20, when the gallery will make room for the MVAA Student Scholarship Winners Show and the Fred Messersmith Gallery Dedication Exhibition, both of which will run from June 21 to 27.

The New Members Show kicked off a busy season of exhibitions by emerging artists and Island fixtures, such as Louisa Gould and Debra and Warren Gaines (July 12-18) and Margot Diaz (August 30-September 5). Some of Ms. Fager, Mr. Wright, and Ms. Size’s works will remain on display throughout summer and others will likely appear in regular exhibits in seasons to come, as is tradition with MVAA members. More information about the gallery and its upcoming shows is available at marthasvineyardartassociation.org.