Island Images opens Ed Keating photography show

"Chilmark Store" by Ed Keating. — Photo by Edward Keating

Photographer Ed Keating, who divides his time between New York City and Chilmark, brings his Vineyard photographs to Island Images Gallery in Oak Bluffs this weekend. The Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer worked for The New York Times for 12 years and has since become a freelance artist, publishing his work in magazines such as Time, Rolling Stone, W, Interview, and New York.

A Martha’s Vineyard summer visitor for the past 10 years, Mr. Keating started photographing here this year. “For years I had a tough time photographing Martha’s Vineyard because I’m a street photographer,” he said in a telephone interview last weekend. “Up here represented something very different.”

For the Vineyard, Mr. Keating shifted to an easier-going style, emphasizing natural forms. He and his wife, Carrie Boretz, also a photographer and a collaborator with her husband, first took their work to the Chilmark Flea Market and have started doing Island wedding photography as well. According to National Geographic electronic publishing editor David Griffin, Mr. Keating’s New York Times wedding photography changed the way weddings are photographed.

For the Island Images exhibit, Mr. Keating is displaying a combination of on- and off-Island work in both black and white and color. In both cases, his photos reflect an urban sensibility. One image of a ride at the Agricultural Fair brings color photography close to black and white with its pattern of black cables and metal arms seen from the back of a woman wearing a black and white polka dot shirt and a wide-brimmed straw hat hanging down her back. In another Ag Fair shot, two children aim rifles at an unseen target.

One of Mr. Keating’s black-and-white images portrays a dog stretched out above a sign reading “No Dogs on Porch” and in front of a clutter of flower containers and a watering can on the porch at the Chilmark Store. In “Empty House, Vineyard Haven,” Mr. Keating highlights not a pretty, freshly painted, flower-bedecked building but one in which the peeling clapboards create a strong black-and-white pattern. One of his more lyrical shots, titled “Featherstone, Oak Bluffs,” depicts a pattern of bare branches bathed in sun and shadows, with the suggestion of green foliage in the background. “Pollock Floor” portrays a riot of vibrant abstract pattern of primarily orange and red spots, while “Painter, Aquinnah” creates a beautifully balanced composition of a painter’s canvas and the landscape it draws from. A black-and-white study of tourists inside the Statue of Liberty reflects a powerful union of composition, movement, and iconography.

Julian Wise, who opened Island Images Gallery a year ago next to Vineyard Vines in the former Jaba Gallery at the head of Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs, met Mr. Keating’s wife while walking his dog at Squibnocket. After Ms. Boretz told him about her husband’s work and their mutual desire to get a foothold into the Island art scene, Mr. Wise checked Mr. Keating’s website. “My jaw dropped,” he said. “He is a master of composition with a strong narrative style. His work has almost a musical quality.”

Mr. Wise said that Mr. Keating’s Island photography provides a strong contrast to his New York images. The gallery owner is considering collaborating with Mr. Keating to publish a book of his work. “He’s a funny, delightful, interesting guy,” Mr. Wise said.

“Ed Keating, Photographer,” opening reception Friday, July 18, 5 to 7 pm. Island Images Gallery, Oak Bluffs. Show runs through July 25 with selected images on view throughout the summer. For more information, visit