Art

Art show gets in the Derby spirit

Fishing the Derby
Soft light surrounds a row of anglers lining the jetty in Ovid Ward's painting, "Fishing the Derby." Photos courtesy of Louisa Gould Gallery

By Pat Waring - September 13, 2007

There's something fishy going on at the Louisa Gould gallery in Vineyard Haven this week and it's a good thing. Friday evening's opening reception for her newest group show drew almost as many anglers as the Derby weigh-in station and produced more fish than the average trip to Wasque might.

Raising funds for the Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby Scholarship Fund, the show brings together some two dozen artists showing at least 65 pieces of work, all with a fish or fishing theme.

Though one might not expect to see artists and fishermen mingling in a glitzy gallery, Friday's party showed the mix to be very harmonious. In fact, a good number of the artists represented here are avid fishermen themselves.

Antique Lures
Fishy treats! "Antique Lures" depicted in brilliant colors by Brian Kirkpatrick.

Longtime Derby president Ed Jerome got the evening off to a promising start, signing copies of "Fishing the Vineyard" (Compass Publishing, 2000, $30), which features splendid paintings by Ray Ellis. Edited by Mr. Jerome, the book offers some dozen stories by Island fishing buffs which range from moving memoir to little-known history.

"I'm impressed with Louisa's efforts to pull this together," said Mr. Jerome gratefully as he visited with guests later.

Nearby, Janet Messineo whose unique taxidermy art ranges from delicate minnow jewelry to sculptural assemblages of glistening fish who look like they just leaped out of the sea to grace your coffee table, praised Mr. Jerome's work. "We can't let him go, there'll never be another Ed Jerome," she said, citing his skill in coordinating the 35-member volunteer Derby committee of which she is a member.

Ms. Gould floated through the crowd greeting visitors and artists. She said that all proceeds from sales of "Fishing the Vineyard" and Ray Ellis prints will go to the Derby scholarship fund. Artists will donate a portion of their sales to the fund and Ms. Gould will also contribute a percentage of the gallery's income from the exhibit.

"It's almost been organic," she said happily about the growth of the exhibit. After inviting "a handful" of artists to submit work, she heard from many more who were eager to participate. The result is walls lined with art in a fascinating variety of styles and mediums, capturing the spirit of fishing and the Derby in myriad ways.

Ms. Gould whose forte and passion is shooting pictures of boats, last year became the official Derby photographer. "I discovered that fishermen are as avid about their sport as yachting people are," she said.

After spending "30 out of 35" nights at the weigh-in, Ms. Gould got to know Derby organizers and competitors well, and came up with the idea for an exhibit.

Keeper
Waves crash and water swirls, but the angler in Luther Kelly Hall's "Keeper" perseveres.

More than two-thirds of the expansive gallery space is dedicated to the show, from realistic scenes of fishermen lining beaches and jetties, casting into the surf, heading out in boats, or hauling in a big one, to decorative and fanciful depictions of fish, fishermen, and even tackle.

Exemplifying the tone are Dimitry Schidlovsky's arresting paintings in the Grand Slam series commissioned by the Derby. The newest, "Faithful Blue," shows a gleaming bluefish battling against the line above a glistening ocean.

Time stands still and a low sun molds the sand with shadows in Ovid Ward's serene painting of fishermen lining a State Beach jetty as seagulls stand at attention. Beneath, two oils by Donna Blackburn convey an entirely different feeling, intense and energized, as fishermen venture into crashing surf.

In another mood altogether, Charlie Giordano offers four elegantly framed prints of individual fish, each one spare, delicately detailed, and with only a hint of color. And Brian Kirkpatrick uses a cartoon-like style and bright primary palette to portray "Uncle Bobby" (Bob Flanders) out fishing in his little blue boat, and a bouquet of lures as tempting and bright as lollipops for bluefish.

Alan Brigish shows four Derby-related photographs among his larger body of work, including an atmospheric study of busy fishermen in Menemsha seen against a lemon yellow sky, and a man with his rod as a magnificent dawn gilds the Edgartown horizon.

Favorite fishing haunts are shown at dawn, at dusk, and even in the eerie dead of night as in Traeger diPietro's painting of a fisherman alone and afloat under a bright moon, the clouds scudding past.

Leslie S. Smith, a charter captain and former Derby president, is showing pastel seascapes, and one piece specifically for the exhibit, a bonito chasing a hook underwater.

Anne Howes picks several shore locations for her fishermen, and drenches them with subtle light. And how many elusive fish lurk beneath Lanny McDowell's churning waves? Luther Kelly Hall paints his fishermen on the distinctive rocks of the Connecticut shoreline where he lives. One avid angler still pursues his catch though blasted by rain and surf, and several fishermen take to the high seas in radiant light.

There's plenty of wit and whimsy in this show too: Sheila Fane's bright prints of fish on handmade paper, Washington Ledesma's huge fish with tiny sculpted scales and lots of personality and his Gold Fish Sculpture, ornate as an ancient icon. Sherrill Blalock's stripers in "Jail House Rock" have that "let me outta here" look in their eyes, and Lisa Vanderhoop titles her print of a fish lunging for the plug "Bass Candy."

Patrons began drifting out promptly, the sailors mindful of the Moffett Race start the next morning, which Ms. Gould herself would be photographing. The fishermen, likely re-inspired by the art, went home to dream and scheme about what beach they would be on for the Derby's opening barely 24 hours away.

The show continues until the Derby ends on October 15.

Louisa Gould Gallery, 54 Main St., Vineyard Haven. For more information, call 508-693-7373 or visit louisagould.com.