Forget Me Not Antiques Statue: Photo by Susan Safford
This graceful African pair seemed to be dancing in the yard at Forget Me Not Antiques. Photos by Susan Safford

An up-island art jaunt

Posted July 13, 2006

West Tisbury is a fine place to enjoy art on a summer afternoon. Galleries take advantage of wide lawns and warm weather to hold festive receptions al fresco and the array of quality artwork is a delight for the eye. This weekend The Times stopped in at just a few of the many up-Island galleries to sample the artistic fare - and of course the delicious snacks and cool beverages served at receptions too.

Rich up-Island views

Longtime West Tisbury gallery owner Hermine Hull opened her summer show of new work Sunday at her Hermine Merel Smith Fine Art gallery. She is developing a reputation for lushly handsome landscapes and figurative oils that retain a hint of her interior design training as a painter.

Works on a relatively small scale predominate, but the artist says she won't exclude the possibility of working on larger canvasses. This year she returned repeatedly to Parsonage Pond in West Tisbury. One piece spotlights deep green foliage and a dark, treed horizon at the pond.

The Field Gallery in West Tisbury: Photo by Susan Safford
It was a lovely afternoon to enjoy art, nature, and socializing on the spacious lawn of the Field Gallery in West Tisbury on Sunday.

Ms. Hull's palette this year is influenced by the spring's gray, rainy days but there is nothing gloomy about the misty, gentle greens, sometimes combined with highlights of reds and yellows that mark her work. Her figures use a vibrant range of colors, and she uses bold blocks of color in clothing or backgrounds that help define the contexts for her subjects.

New art from Africa

Joan Merry and Don Lyons, who have traveled extensively in Africa and been captivated by the simple sculpture done in natural settings with only hand tools, have begun bringing pieces home for sale to Vineyard neighbors. On Sunday, Forget Me Not Antiques on State Road opened a new exhibit of more than 100 pieces that the couple brought from Tengenenge and other villages, and from the gallery of Dominic Benhura, Zimbabwe's most famous and accomplished sculptor. The sculptures are in a variety of stone from nearby mines and include springstone, serpentine, leopard rock, jade, and opal. They range from jaunty fish to stolid elephants, birds both delicate and sturdy, more abstract pieces, and moving designs incorporating simply depicted human figures. Some look ancient, some are sleekly contemporary, all have striking presence and personality and reflect the spiritual nature of African society. And many of the prices are manageable, even for the beginning collector. Drop by and meet these sculpted visitors.

West Tisbury artist Kenneth Vincent: Photo by Susan Safford
Young West Tisbury artist Kenneth Vincent with several of his paintings at the Granary.

Landscapes, photos, comic portraits

Island photographer Alison Shaw, oil landscapist Kenneth Vincent, and neo-pop portraitist Barry Rockwell are showing new work at the Granary Gallery.

Mr. Vincent and Ms. Shaw work from very similar palettes to achieve very different effects in separate media. Growing up in West Tisbury, Mr. Vincent's father and grandfather were farmers, and the subjects of his landscape oils reflect that agricultural background.

A powerful colorist, he often uses the same range of vibrant blues and greens that appear in Ms. Shaw's handsome new landscape abstractions. It is even harder not to draw comparisons between Mr. Vincent's work and that of Rez Williams. Both approach composition from a structural, almost tectonic perspective. But Mr. Vincent uses the tradition of Cezanne without as much of that cubist precursor's deconstruction of form.

Joan Merry: Photo by Susan Safford
Joan Merry greeted visitors to the African sculpture show at Forget Me Not Antiques on State Road.

Mr. Vincent excels at large format painting. In a charming smaller piece, "Cows, Flat Point Farm," purified cows rest under a leafless tree that seems to imprison swatches of pink and gray sky and clouds in its gray limbs. The effect is peaceful yet complex.

Ms. Shaw experiments with a new technique in the giclée prints on exhibit. Using a tripod and a very long exposure time, she captures a linear sense of land and seascape in color, as if a static scene were whizzing by.

"Herring Cove" becomes an abstraction of dazzling reds tailing off occasionally into orange, as if the eye had been flooded with that color spectrum. Luminous blues, aquamarine and green dominate the "Race Point" series to create a very painterly effect. The new work is interesting for its technical experimentation and the power of its color.

Barry Rockwell has a serious candy fixation in his new comic portraits, wedding pop art with elements from the folk art and deconstructionist traditions. The jokes are charming, the execution masterly.

Carolyn Evans, a featured artist at the Carol Craven Gallery's current show: Photo by Tara Kenny
Carolyn Evans, a featured artist at the Carol Craven Gallery's current show. Photo by Tara Kenny

And at the Craven...

On the way back down-Island a stop at Carol Craven's one-year-old gallery on Breakdown Lane off State Road in Vineyard Haven offers a look at a dramatic variety of art. Last year Ms. Craven moved her operation from cozy but cramped quarters in West Tisbury to the spacious new home, and she has had no trouble filling it with both art and patrons ever since. The current show, celebrated with a festive reception Sunday, features artists Carolyn Evans with her series "Untold Stories," painter Palmer Davis, and a collection of pastels by Christian Heckscher. Gretchen Feldman, Mark Andrew Stimson, and Elena Mary Siff open a new exhibit at the Craven on July 23.