Art from the fire

Cheri Christensen
At the Eisenhauer Gallery, Cheri Christensen's animals have lots of personality. Photo courtesy of the Eisenhauer Gallery

By Pat Waring - May 24, 2007

The wet chilly weather last weekend might have made it seem more like March than May, but the burst of art events coming this weekend is a sure sign that summer is almost here. Several galleries are opening their doors and hosting reception parties, joining with two major fundraisers to make this the first big art weekend of the new season.

With dozens of artists and artisans donating work, the Annual Family Planning Art Show Gala Preview tonight at the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury offers a festive evening out for a great cause. Jan Buhrman's Kitchen Porch crew will serve scrumptious hors d'oeuvres, cold beverages will flow thanks to the generosity of local businesses, and jazz artist Jeremy Berlin will entertain. The high quality of art work, as always, will be as captivating as the conversations as winter-weary Islanders gather for the season's first major benefit.

Continuing through Sunday, the show encompasses a great range of media, and prices to fit most every pocketbook. Proceeds help support the long-time clinic in Vineyard Haven, which provides a variety of family planning and reproductive health services to Islanders.

Family Planning of Martha's Vineyard Art Show
The annual Family Planning of Martha's Vineyard Art Show opening gala always draws a happy crowd. Photo by Susan Safford

Socially conscious art lovers should get a good night's sleep after the Family Planning bash to be rested up for Habitat for Humanity's Fifth Annual "More than Art" dinner and auction Friday night, May 25, at the Harbor View Hotel. Along with creations by such popular Island artists as Peggy Zablotny, Traeger diPietro, and Michele Dangelo, as well as jewelry and ceramic works, guests can bid on gift certificates for pampering, dining, cruises, and much more.

Guests will enjoy cocktails and hors d'oeuvres while browsing the silent auction tables. During dinner, PBS's Bob Glover, Emmy Award-winning producer, manager, and on-air presenter, takes the podium as guest auctioneer. The organization's goal for this event is to raise enough funds to build a house for another Vineyard family.

For a rare look at a moving and monumental stained glass work, stop by Barney Zeitz's open studio in Vineyard Haven this weekend beginning Friday, May 25, 4 to 7 pm. (See story and photos, Calendar, page one.)

In Edgartown, the Eisenhauer Gallery will host a reception titled "Ma Petite Ferme En L'ile" (My Little Farm on the Island) on Saturday evening, May 26, from 5 to 7 pm for guest painters Cheri Christensen and Karen Tusinski. Animals play a big role in the charming works by Ms. Christensen, who lives in New Mexico. She takes inspiration from her own pets (including a batch of baby chicks) and animals she has encountered in her travels. Whether cows, sheep, or chickens, they glow with personality. Rockport artist Tusinski often features one of her favorite images, a red poppy blossom, in her vibrant work. The scarlet flowers reach out of a vase, nest in a bowl, blow in a windy meadow, and in one lush painting cover the earth with a ruby blanket.

Gallery owner Elizabeth Eisenhauer promises delicious French country-style edibles to continue the theme.

Renee Balter shows her Vineyard scenes at the Dragonfly Gallery in Oak Bluffs beginning Saturday, and will greet guests at a reception that afternoon from 4 to 7 pm. After years of producing note cards using acrylic and pen-and-ink drawings, in the early 1980s she began using oils and monoprint, but her theme of Vineyard living remains constant.

"Her images...can take you on a trip down memory lane or help you take notice of an overlooked treasure," says gallery owner Holly Alaimo.

While you're in Oak Bluffs stroll across Dukes County Avenue for an opening reception at Alison Shaw's photo gallery, also 4 to 7 pm. And in Vineyard Haven, photographer Louisa Gould hosts an opening party from 5:30 to 7 pm at her new Main Street gallery with a slide show of maritime images.

Topping off the art weekend in style on Sunday afternoon, May 27, and promising to be as festive as ever is an artist's reception at the Carol Craven gallery in Vineyard Haven from 3 to 5 pm. Ms. Craven is packing her spacious gallery with work by an impressive total of 19 different artists, including many familiar Vineyard names. Visitors will enjoy snacks and socializing while viewing work by Kib Bramhall, Carolyn Evans, Gretchen Feldman, Nancy Furino, Barbara Kassel, Richard Lee, Anne Scott McGhee, and Christian Heckscher, among many others.

But don't take off your gallery-hopping shoes just yet. Kara Taylor will unveil her newest paintings with a reception party at her Vineyard Haven gallery on Sunday from 5 to 8 pm.