Art

Wood collages and landscapes

 

Louisa Gould Gallery
Louisa Gould Gallery. Photo by Ralph Stewart

By Brooks Robards - July 26, 2007

The wood collages of long-time Vineyard summer resident Robert Jewett and landscapes by Gray Park, a Connecticut artist who comes to the Island to paint, are on view at Vineyard Haven's Louisa Gould Gallery through August 3.

Mr. Jewett's 10 abstract wood collages, some of which are massive, represent a transition of sorts for this potter and ceramicist, who has not exhibited them on-Island before. Although he has made sculpture for 30 years, his training and teaching career have emphasized pottery and ceramics.

"What I'm interested in is how man-made things interact with the seascape," Mr. Jewett says. His wood collages could be said to make a direct translation of that interest. Several of the pieces employ channels of narrow blonde wood strips as if a boat hull is cutting through a mosaic of multicolored woods.

That is the case with the largest, 4 by 8 feet, "Passage Through Pollock Rip Channel." The artist masterfully interfaces nine different wood types in it, as well as in "Passage Through Robinson's Hole" and "Stonewall Beach After Winter Storm."

"Vineyard Pond Overflow" relies on pieces of poplar fitted into simple wavy lines above a more complexly patterned triangle. In "Winter Solstice," the horizontal grain of the poplar shows through what could almost be a landscape created by the pieces of wood fitted together.

Mr. Jewett's Vineyard roots run deep. His grandfather helped found the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club, and his father, who learned to sail there, is renowned in racing circles. Growing up sailing on the Vineyard himself, Mr. Jewett has an appreciation for the enormous forces at work in the water.

He points out that if you fly over the Island, you can see the water patterns and the layers created by sun penetrating the water and casting shadows. One trip in his mother's lobster boat to Muskeget Island off Chappaquiddick made a particular impression on him.

"The shelves on the bottom there are huge because the tides are so powerful," he says. Mr. Jewett, who teaches at St. Paul Academy, spent the last year at his West Chop home while on sabbatical. In transition from his career teaching art, he hopes to retire to the Vineyard in the next few years.

His work as an artist is also in transition. While he continues to make pottery and ceramics, he has become increasingly interested in wood sculpture as an expressive outlet.

"When I build my studio here, I'm really going to have to decide," he says. Making one workshop for the two art forms would not be easy.

While Mr. Jewett's work is new to the Louisa Gould Gallery, that of Gray Park is not. Mr. Park exhibited there last year with his father, Howard Park, when the gallery was located on the water across from the Black Dog Tavern.

Ms. Gould met the Parks through mutual friends and challenged the two artists to come to the Vineyard and paint. The results, in the case of the younger Park who spent a week painting on-Island in July, are on display. Many of his seven landscapes are large, horizontal rectangles that capture the feel of the long, flat Vineyard.

"State Beach" depicts an unsettled sky full of kite-shaped clouds and a rich meld of Sound colors - olive, aqua, lapis, and royal blues. Mr. Park uses birds to cohere the composition of "Menemsha." They appear as minimalist specks sailing over blue water, sand, a bluff, the hills and the sky.

Three Park paintings are set at Sengekontacket Pond. "Sengekontacket Birds" powerfully depicts the water, salt marshes, and sky with its titular birds barely visible like black and white punctuation marks on the island in the pond where they roost and fly. "Sengekontacket Pond" dates from a 2006 excursion to the Vineyard, and "Sengekontacket Cove" uses a darker palette of green foliage, water, and salt marsh with a small sailboat in the background.

Newly located on Main Street and refurbished after water damage from a fire in the building, the Louisa Gould Gallery is positioned to become a major force in the Island's art scene. The gallery was located for three and half years on Beach Street Extension at the harbor in a space that barely could accommodate Ms. Gould's own accomplished photography, let alone the other artists she represented.

Now she has room for 25 artists in a broad range of media - oil, pastel, watercolor, photography, furniture, glass, ceramics, wood collage, nautical architectural drawings, jewelry, glass art, 3-D renderings and works on paper. Three benches, made by a woodworker at Gannon and Benjamin Boatyard, have been strategically positioned in the long, deep gallery. Ms. Gould says people like to sit down on them and look at the art.

"So far, people really like the diversity," she adds. The Louisa Gould Gallery is open 10 am to 5 pm, Monday through Thursday, and 10 am to 10 pm Friday and Saturday.