Four out of the five routes at the infamous Five Corners intersection in Vineyard Haven are well traveled roads that lead to and from key Island spots; whether your destination is the Steamship Authority in Vineyard Haven, Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs, or South Beach in Edgartown, Five Corners will get you there — if a bit precariously.
Then there is the shorter fifth street — Beach Road Extension — that is lightly traveled aside from those headed to the Black Dog Restaurant or seeking a view of the harbor’s tall ships. Last Thursday, July 9, that fifth route saw more traffic than usual as art lovers poured in and out of a new gallery, Crft Shw (pronounced “craft show,”) along Beach Road Extension while sipping glasses of champagne and drinking in the atmosphere of modern artwork and wares backed by pulsing electronic music at a grand opening that showcased more than 20 artists.
At first glance, Crft Shw appears to be a quaint hole in the wall wedged between Eastern Yacht Sales and Terrain Architects along a small strip of shops and company buildings. Like the Island itself, it hardly seems possible that a space so small could house more than a few artists at a time, yet the gallery is overflowing with an eclectic array of talents that wouldn’t be out of place at a Brooklyn boutique. Gallery owners Whitney Blank and Deanna deVries have designed the space to allow for the showcasing of the works of artists with local ties, while still leaving room for a workshop/studio in the back.
“We’re showing all of our friends’ work, and hopefully they’ll treat us like their playground,” Ms. Blank said in an interview with The Times. “We want to grow in order to help them grow: it’s not really a for-profit endeavor.”
Ms. deVries and Ms. Blank have lived on the Island since 2012 when a tour with L.A.-based girls band Wet and Reckless took them eastward. Ms. deVries had made Island ties through her classmates such as Hannah Keefe at MassArt where she studied metalsmithing, and the two have spent their years here making friends with local artists and developing their own trades.
“I hope we can create a different voice for the Vineyard in a way because there are a lot of great galleries here, but we have a whole cadre of people who aren’t in those galleries and are making work for a different crowd,” said Ms. Blank.
Ms. deVries added, “We want to focus on artists who we think are underrepresented or underserved.”
Ms. Blank and Ms. deVries use the entirety of their modest space to showcase eccentric works of varying media. Intricate wire sculptures by Duncan Niederlitz tumble from the ceiling and walls; Colin Ruel’s fantastical floral paintings in neon hues are sandwiched between metal-and-solder necklaces and earrings by Hannah Keefe and Nettie Kent’s jewelry made from stone and gold; Elizabeth Cecil’s unearthly “Surfers” photograph hangs directly opposite the entrance.
One part gallery and one part high-end retail store, Crft Shw also sells one-of-a-kind housewares. Enid McEvoy contributed weekender bags and quilts, Andrew Meers his handcrafted knives, and Tim Laursen a long wooden table that houses knickknacks of all sorts, including Ms. deVries’ playful toddler spoons and coffee scoops to accompany coffee roasted by Ms. Blank.
In keeping with past endeavors among the Vineyard artist community, the goal of Ms. Blank and Ms. deVries is to support and cultivate developing local artists. Next on their agenda is to devise workshops for young artists from local schools and to continue to highlight Island artists whose works might not fit with mainstream fine art galleries.
“The butterfly effect of teaching people about art on the Island is so cool to me,” Ms. Blank said. “For example, I lived with Tim Laursen this year and he taught me how to make stained glass, which he had learned through a grant from Featherstone. We would love to become a repository for the community to learn about art and to get inspiration from.”
Crft Shw, located in Vineyard Haven, is open from 11 am to 7 pm, Thursday through Sunday. For more information about workshops and shows, visit crftshw.com.