Galleries : Belushi Pisano Gallery To Move
When gallery owner Jessica Pisano closes the doors of Vineyard Haven's Belushi Pisano Gallery for the season on Oct. 1, it will mark the end of a chapter of the gallery's life. The Belushi Pisano Gallery will open its doors next Memorial Day weekend as a seasonal Edgartown gallery. Ms. Pisano has rented space on Kelley Street across from the Kelley House.
"I love that Vineyard Haven is year-round," she says. "But now that I'm going to be seasonal, I think Edgartown is the place to be."
Ms. Pisano, daughter of Victor and Judy Belushi Pisano, grew up on the Island, graduating from Martha's Vineyard Regional High School in 1995.
After finishing her degree in Studio Art from Lewis and Clark University in Portland, Ore., and spending a year abroad painting in Florence, Italy, Ms. Pisano realized that she wanted to run a gallery as well as be an artist. She earned a Masters Degree in Art Administration from The Art Institute of Chicago, learning about curating, art management, and marketing. She interned at the Chicago branch of a large art auction house, Sotheby's, and worked in a number of city galleries in Seattle and Chicago.
The contemporary Belushi Pisano Gallery opened in 2005, originally as a non-profit family business in support of the Second Chance Foundation, a fund to help needy Islanders that was started by her stepmother, Judy Belushi Pisano, in 1991.
Ms. Pisano hired Colleen Wingood of West Tisbury as her gallery coordinator and says, "I couldn't have done it without her. She helped me with everything from getting a business license to buying office supplies."
Rather than hiring consultants, Ms. Pisano designed all the businesses' logos and did everything in-house. She says, "I recall that I didn't sleep for the first year. I lived on coffee."
Photo by Ralph Stewart
This year, with various shifts and changes taking place, Ms. Pisano decided the time was right for a move. Edgartown, she believes, will be a better fit for Belushi Pisano as a seasonal gallery. She hopes the new location will provide more foot traffic and plans to keep the gallery open until 10 pm, instead of closing at 6 pm. Because the Edgartown space is smaller, the espresso bar will no longer be a feature, and the exhibits will be rotated more frequently. While she will miss the old, homey atmosphere of the former house turned gallery in Vineyard Haven, she admits she found it a little bigger than she could manage comfortably on her own.
Ms. Pisano has relied on artists she met in art school or crossed paths with in other ways to create the gallery's distinctive mix of contemporary art. She plans to keep most of the artists she represents now, 60 percent of whom come from off-Island, but she will open in Edgartown with all new work.
Ms. Pisano has found that combining a contemporary flavor with Island-friendly art proved successful. For her, contemporary does not mean conceptual or abstract art, but rather lots of bold colors and mixed media. She pays attention to what works with her audience - what her customers like and what their home décor is like.
"When you see it, you know it," Ms. Pisano says of contemporary art. Work at the gallery ranges from as little as $400 to $6,000, with glass and jewelry priced much lower. With the move ahead, the gallery has launched its first sale, reducing everything by 15 to 20 percent.
"It's nothing like feeling we haven't succeeded here," Ms. Pisano says of the location in Vineyard Haven.
She explains that she is relocating to Newport, R.I., to live with fine-art photographer Michael Eudenbach, who exhibits in Belushi Pisano Gallery, and to work on her art during the off-season.
"It is a big step, but last winter I was really ready to go," she says. She and Mr. Eudenbach will try out seasonal living on the Island, with him spending the summer here with her and the two of them returning to Newport for the winter.