Fishing family's roots seen through art

The Fisher Gallery
The Fisher Gallery is composed of two spacious rooms. The larger of the two rooms houses a long leather bench and two walls filled with work by Heidi Wild, on the right, and Brandon Fisher, on the left. Photo by Tamar Russell

By Tamar Russell - August 30, 2007

The Fisher Gallery at 585 Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Edgartown is finishing its first summer. The sunny, spacious, well-lit atmosphere and the golden hardwood floors of the gallery make it a wonderful spot to visit. Unlike many galleries on the Island, the Fisher Gallery's walls are refreshingly lightly populated by two Island artists - both related to the owner, Madeline Fisher.

Ms. Fisher is herself an Islander, through and through. She is an Edgartown native who found herself attracted to art the majority of her life. In the past she worked around the Island for various galleries before deciding to open her own, simply out of a love and interest in art. "I was always interested in what makes people like a piece," she confessed. This intense interest moved her to start the gallery when, as she says, "the time was right."

One gallery where Ms. Fisher received some early inspiration was the Old Sculpin Gallery. "I loved the building and the atmosphere of that building with its roots in the whaling industry," she related one day last week. Her own family has a deep past in the fishing industry. She further explained that the Old Sculpin had been a catboat building house prior to its reincarnation as a gallery.

This silver gelatin photo, taken in 2001, is part of a study focusing on a young lady named Emily of Oak Bluffs, the great granddaughter of "Herbie" Landers. The photo is a good example of the skillful journalistic portraiture of Heidi Wild. Photo contributed by Heidi Wild

She went on to describe the work her father did and the fact that her grandfather died at sea off of the south shore in 1924.

The past has come out in one of her artists, her son, Brandon Fisher. Brandon's medium is oil. His Island paintings are a testament to the old Island ways. According to Ms. Fisher's father, Francis "Sandy" Fisher, a fisherman by trade, Brandon's painting shows how the "Island was in the old days."

As you enter the gallery, immediately on the left is a wonderful example of Brandon's versatility in his use of various color palettes to describe the Island. The piece, called "Quitsa," is at first close glance a murky swamp of sepia colors but as the viewer backs away it becomes a graceful boatman bathed with incredibly soft sunlight.

Brandon also has on exhibit some new offerings. These two new pieces on display are both large oil studies of the north shore.

The other Island artist in this family gallery is Brandon's partner, Heidi Wild. Heidi's medium is photography. I was completely mesmerized by her black-and-white images. She has traveled extensively and this adventure and her great eye for the journalistic moment give us active pieces from all over the world.

She has also worked with portraiture. Out of one series comes a wonderful silver gelatin print - Emily, Oak Bluffs, M.V., from 2001 on the back wall of the main room of the gallery. This image shows "Herbie" Landers of Oak Bluffs and his great granddaughter Emily, who Heidi photographed for roughly seven years, according to Ms. Fisher.

The gallery, due to the wonderful work and simplicity of structure and layout, is a refreshing place to add to your gallery list this summer. This very artistic family is determined to continue to do their art in their own way, according to Ms. Fisher. Though it has taken two years to get the gallery up and running, from concept to conception and beyond, Ms. Fisher now says, "we are ready."

The Fisher Gallery is open daily from 1-6 pm. The hours, though undetermined, will continue through the winter. The gallery is located at 585 Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Rd. For more information, call 508-627-7711 or visit