Art & Galleries

0
"L'Etang du Chene Maule" by H. Claude Pissarro.

Already the Island’s go-to gallery for European as well as American Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, the Christina Gallery in Edgartown has added substantially to its collection of art from this period. New works on display include a series of 10 original lithographs by French painter Maurice Utrillo, and additions to the gallery’s already extensive holdings of oils, pastels, drawings, etchings, and charcoals by four generations of the Pissarro family.

"Genevieve" by Paulemile Pissarro.

“Genevieve” by Paulemile Pissarro. — Christina Gallery

“We’ve been developing this collection for 15 to 20 years,” said gallery owner Christina Cook. “It’s important for people to realize you can own a work of a very famous painter. We’ve kept them at a very comfortable price level.” A lot of the works on paper at the gallery, which conventionally are less costly than oil paintings, also appear at retrospectives of these artists.

Ms. Cook and her mother, Liz Cook, visit Paris in the off-season in search of new acquisitions. In the case of Maurice Utrillo, a post-Impressionist French painter famous for his renderings of Montmartre, they were able to acquire the complete series of 10 original lithographs of which the gallery had previously shown three or four. The series ranges from lively views of Montmartre’s famous church, le Sacré Coeur, and the iconic “Musée du Louvre,” to “Notre Dame de Paris, vue de la Seine,” and a winter scene titled “Moulin de la Galette.”

Over the years, the Cooks have developed a working relationship with members of the Pissarro family. Camille Pissarro, the patriarch in four generations of artists, is considered by some art historians to be the dean of French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, influencing Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, and August Renoir.

Pissarro suffered from the climate of anti-Semitism in France generated during the Dreyfus Affair (1894-1906), a scandal in which a French artillery officer who was Jewish and Alsatian was falsely accused of treason and imprisoned. Because Pissarro was also Jewish, he avoided appearing in public during this period, often painting scenes from his window. “Café Caracas,” a pencil drawing on paper by Pissarro, is one of Christina’s new Pissarro acquisitions.

New works by five of Pissarro’s sons are also on display. An etching, “Children,” by Lucien, the oldest of the five Pissarro sons, although not new to the gallery’s inventory, has an appealingly compact composition. New to the gallery’s holdings is a striking charcoal, “Grey Cat,” by Georges Henri Manzana Pissarro, offers allusions to Asian art. Yet another strong work is the etching “Two Horses Grazing” by Felix Pissarro, who died at age 23. It represents the first work the gallery has acquired by this artist and is executed from the unusual perspective of the horses’ backsides. Ludovic-Rodo Pissarro’s “Honfleur” is an oil on canvas of sailboats moored in the port city near Le Havre.

"Montmartre Le Sacre Couer" by Maurice Utrillo.

“Montmartre Le Sacre Couer” by Maurice Utrillo. — Christina Gallery

Ludovic-Rodo’s younger brother Paul-Emile has on exhibit “Fleurs,” an oil-on-canvas still life of flowers from the daisy genus, and “Genevieve,” a powerful portrait of a seated woman dressed in green skirt and top. Camille Pissarro’s grandson H. Claude Pissarro is represented by a richly textured and colored 1935 pastel, “Le Pommier en Fleurs.” Recently sold was “La Foret d’Otilia, a pastel by Camille Pissarro’s great granddaughter Lelia.

“Some of these Pissarros are just not getting the recognition post-death that you would expect,” Ms. Cook said. As a result, their prices remain more accessible.

Other works of note in the Christina Gallery’s Post-Impressionist collection include Mary Cassatt’s “Looking into the Hand Mirror,” a dry-point etching so delicately rendered that it looks like a pencil drawing. Because dry-point etchings do not make a deep grove, fewer copies are printed. Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s “Femme nue Assise” is a soft-ground etching, a technique that conveys the illusion of a drawing

The work by Utrillo and the Pissarro family will remain on display through September 15.

On Thursday, August 7, Christina Gallery present “An Evening with Marjorie Mason,” a new exhibit titled “Vineyard Landscapes – New Works.”

The Christina Gallery, 32 North Water St., Edgartown. For more information, visit christina.com.

0
Panoramas fill the gallery's walls.

Michael Johnson did not study photography in school. He never spent hours poring over photographs in books or magazines, nor did he pick up a camera as a child and know that he would dedicate his life to the art. Photography simply didn’t occur to him.

The exterior of Mr. Johnson's Vineyard Haven gallery.

The exterior of Mr. Johnson’s Vineyard Haven gallery. — Michael Cummo

Yet today his panoramic images that span the vibrant cliffs of Gay Head and cloudy winter skies over Lucy Vincent Beach and his photographic studies of Inkwell Beach and other Oak Bluffs icons hang in some of the Island’s best known galleries and artisan markets. He has become a staple among photography educators on the Island and one of the foremost Oak Bluffs cultural documenters, thanks to a last-minute decision and some advice from good friends, or, as he calls them, his “angels.”

“I’ve always believed in Peter’s Principle of Pull,” Mr. Johnson said in an interview with The Times. “Push is when you go to school and you work hard to do all these things. Pull is when you find people who have more power than you and use their talent to pull you along.”

Mr. Johnson grew up a music lover in Englewood, N.J. He sang in rock bands throughout his youth before deciding one day to take a different direction, though what he would do he did not know — until his first Peter’s Principle encounter.

“I don’t mean it metaphorically when I say that God spoke to me,” Mr. Johnson told The Times. One day he heard a voice in his ear, he said, that told him to go to school for video production. At age 29 he enrolled in a class at Bergen Community College, discovered an affinity for visual art, borrowed $350 from his father to buy a 35mm camera, and headed to the Vineyard.

“I had nine days off from a crappy job,” he said. Mr. Johnson alighted from the ferry with few belongings aside from his camera in May of 1981. The morning after he arrived, he said, “I had a job and a place to stay by 11 am. That’s how the Vineyard was back then. And those 9 days turned into 15 years.”

Mr. Johnson's photographs feature many Martha's Vineyard locales.

Mr. Johnson’s photographs feature many Martha’s Vineyard locales. — Michael Cummo

Inspired by the rural character of the Island and its quiet winters, Mr. Johnson began chronicling up-Island locales such as Cedar Tree Neck and Aquinnah through black-and-white film photographs. He turned to the books and built a darkroom in his Oak Bluffs home where he perfected the art of developing and printing while using the Vineyard artist community’s support and feedback to train his eye. Mr. Johnson credits the Dutch and Flemish painting masters with the emergence of his artistic style: traditional in technique, original in execution. “I love their use of light,” he said. “I try to emulate that emotion in my work.”

Throughout his 30 years as an artist Mr. Johnson has grown from classic black-and-white images of cosmopolitan Oak Bluffs to expansive panoramas that vividly depict the Island’s most beloved landscapes. A glimpse at the large images, comprised of smaller images digitally stitched together and printed on canvas, will take you directly to the foot of the Gay Head Light or the sands of Inkwell Beach.

Peter’s Principle of Pull brought Mr. Johnson back as a seasonal resident after he attempted to leave the Island for San Francisco in the 90s, he said. Due either to his humble nature or to pure disbelief that he, an autodidact, could be included among the trained Island greats, Mr. Johnson said that it took some persistent convincing by his friends in the art community before he considered attempting to live off his art during Vineyard summers.

Thanks to the late artist Richard Lee and his wife, Claudia Canerdy, and Cousen Rose Gallery owner Zita Cousens (“gallery angels,” as he refers to them), Mr. Johnson’s works now hang in his Main Street Vineyard Haven gallery, nestled among a verdant garden next to Nat’s Nook, and on the walls of Cousen Rose Gallery on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs. His latest projects include an exposition of the life and culture of Oak Bluffs, a town that “has not gotten its due artistically,” and street photography set in Cuba and San Francisco’s Mission District, where he lives seven months of the year.

Recognizable by his warm smile and an open, friendly demeanor, Mr. Johnson greets passersby from his Vineyard Haven gallery on Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays, and Mondays. He sells his photographs and merchandise at the Chilmark Flea Market, and he curates the Featherstone Photo Salons at which experienced photographers offer their insight and ideas to emerging artists. On Monday evenings, he teaches the art of the darkroom photography to learning photographers at Featherstone’s Open Darkrooms.

“I think the tech aspect is relatively easy,” he said. “Training your eye and developing your narrative are the hardest and most ongoing parts.”

Michael Johnson’s Photo Studio is located at 34A Main Street and is open from 12 noon to 5 pm on Thursday, Friday, Sunday, and Monday, or by appointment. For more information, visit michaeljimage.com.

0
The Main Street, Vineyard Haven gallery is home to 10 diverse artists and artisans.

The Night Heron Gallery in Vineyard Haven feels like a mix between a boutique packed with unique gifts and a mini Artisans’ Festival. Both comparisons are very apt. Whether vacationer or full-time Islander, you’ll find this a treasure trove to seek that perfect present. The similarity to the popular Vineyard Artisans Festivals is no surprise, since many represented here have long shown their wares at that larger event.

Established in 2011, Night Heron is a collaborative endeavor among 10 very diverse artists and artisans. It is the Vineyard’s only artist owned and operated cooperative gallery, featuring jewelry, paintings, wearable art, ceramics, gift books, and much more.

According to Lisa Strachan, one of the original founders, this artists’ cooperative is far from being just a business venture. Along with owning, taking care of all business aspects, and operating the shop on a rotating schedule, members work well together, encouraging and supporting one another in their creative ventures, she said. They are good friends and congenial too, as was evident at the opening party on June 27. The small shop was packed with family, friends, art lovers, and vacationers drawn by the colorful displays and effervescent ambiance.

“Even our food is cooperative,” quipped one member, gesturing to the buffet of varied and mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres, each contributed by a different artist.

From first stepping in the door, the visitor is surrounded by colorful variety, indeed as tempting as that snack smorgasbord.

Ingrid Goff-Maidoff’s sweetly inspirational gift books, cards, journals, CDs, and other meditative keepsakes are antidotes for summer hustle-bustle. She collects poetry, affirmations, and snippets of wisdom in pretty bindings and wrappers. “Good Mother Welcome” is a soothing gift for that tired new mom; other books hold lovely reminders of life’s wonders for all.

Another style of thoughtful serenity is found in seascape paintings by Carolyn Warren — boats, ocean, beaches, grassy dunes in soothing coastal colors. Along with standard sized compositions, she displays a selection of miniatures, tiny Vineyard seaside scenes, charming and affordable.

Or choose an evocative photo by L.A. Brown with distressed white frame for special atmosphere. This inspired photographer shows scenes on the Vineyard and abroad of animals, barnyards, fields, and architectural details, all of which have a timeless, peaceful feeling. She sets them in frames she creates with molding from 18th and 19th century homes.

“I watch the light and capture what touches my heart,” she said.

There is wearable Vineyard glamour to be found, a just-right gift for a daughter, mother, sister, best girl friend. Some shoppers are so captivated that they treat themselves. And what better way to remember a vacation or reward yourself for getting through a hectic work week?

There is a large selection of Sylvie Farrington’s signature vintage Sylvie Bags and throw pillows too. Ms. Farrington constantly refines technique and designs, coming up with new features to make these bags even more irresistible. They appear in several styles and sizes, many adorned with bright zippers, Austrian crystal beads, and decorative buttons to accent the lush floral fabrics.

For pure glitter, visit the two jewelry makers, Diana Stewart and Kathleen Tackabury. Both work with silver and gemstones, combining them with dramatic results, though each creates with personal style. Small silver pieces are on display too, including earrings in delicate seashore shapes, molded from the real thing — perfect summer jewelry.

Far from being bitter competitors, the women report they are good friends and support one another’s work. They frequently show next to each other at fairs and shows, as they do here. Ms. Tackabury features an Island-inspired piece in her new horseshoe crab pendant, an exquisite little silver sea creature on a silver chain. A browser at the opening purchased one immediately upon trying it on.

“If I like it, why not?” she said, leaving the shop a happy vacationer.

All of Beldan Radcliffe’s creations are stylish and one of a kind. This season she is particularly enthusiastic about “upcycled” sweaters using all recycled materials. These eye-catching garments are multi-colored, multi-textured, multi-layered, boasting a variety of buttons, ruffles, and trims. She also shows scarves and other work, from lampshades to jewelry. This inventive Vineyard artisan employs her collage-maker’s touch in all her work, combining colors and patterns with flair.

Ceramic art is displayed here in three fascinating styles. Lisa Strachan shows the delicate white porcelain pieces such as vases, trays, and mirror frames for which she is well known. Now she offers an intriguing alternative, stoneware creations with the color and texture of Vineyard beach sand, and even occasionally combines this with a partial blue glaze, suggesting the ocean. On some stoneware she adds seashore embellishments — a shell, a tiny crab, sandpipers.

Ms. Strachan also benefits Hospice with the sale of heart-themed Island-shaped porcelain pieces — a Christmas tree ornament or sweet Vineyard souvenir.

Who wouldn’t recognize the imaginative Washington Ledesma’s heartwarming ceramics? His soulful, big-eyed animals, fish, birds, and reptiles with innocent, unwavering gazes and robust three-breasted goddesses bring a smile. This Uruguayan-born artist’s warm, intense colors are uplifting too. He shows trays, happy little animal statues, and Healing Stones, another cure for summer stress. Medium sized bowls in sunshiny colors will perk up your morning cereal.

Nicholas Thayer contributes majolica pottery inspired by Italian designs. The serving ware and smaller pieces boast crisp, vibrant colors and symmetrical motifs employing lemons, leaves, fish, flowers, even a friendly cow. He aims to use traditional Island borders “and flavor with a bit of the Island.”

Printmaking is another of Mr. Thayer’s loves. His striking monotypes show dark crows with distinctive personality. They are slightly brooding, thoughtful, gathered as though gossiping. Some are playful, some menacing: one swoops, one preens, another catches a dragonfly.

Prices vary widely and much of this art is affordable. Or just browse and appreciate the creative gifts of these talented Islanders.

Night Heron Gallery, Vineyard Haven: open daily, 10 am to 6 pm. For information, visit nightherongallery.com or call 508-696-9500.

1
"Chilmark Store" by Ed Keating.

Photographer Ed Keating, who divides his time between New York City and Chilmark, brings his Vineyard photographs to Island Images Gallery in Oak Bluffs this weekend. The Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer worked for The New York Times for 12 years and has since become a freelance artist, publishing his work in magazines such as Time, Rolling Stone, W, Interview, and New York.

A photograph of the 2013 Agricultural Fair by Mr. Keating.

A photograph of the 2013 Agricultural Fair by Mr. Keating. — Photo by Edward Keating

A Martha’s Vineyard summer visitor for the past 10 years, Mr. Keating started photographing here this year. “For years I had a tough time photographing Martha’s Vineyard because I’m a street photographer,” he said in a telephone interview last weekend. “Up here represented something very different.”

For the Vineyard, Mr. Keating shifted to an easier-going style, emphasizing natural forms. He and his wife, Carrie Boretz, also a photographer and a collaborator with her husband, first took their work to the Chilmark Flea Market and have started doing Island wedding photography as well. According to National Geographic electronic publishing editor David Griffin, Mr. Keating’s New York Times wedding photography changed the way weddings are photographed.

For the Island Images exhibit, Mr. Keating is displaying a combination of on- and off-Island work in both black and white and color. In both cases, his photos reflect an urban sensibility. One image of a ride at the Agricultural Fair brings color photography close to black and white with its pattern of black cables and metal arms seen from the back of a woman wearing a black and white polka dot shirt and a wide-brimmed straw hat hanging down her back. In another Ag Fair shot, two children aim rifles at an unseen target.

One of Mr. Keating’s black-and-white images portrays a dog stretched out above a sign reading “No Dogs on Porch” and in front of a clutter of flower containers and a watering can on the porch at the Chilmark Store. In “Empty House, Vineyard Haven,” Mr. Keating highlights not a pretty, freshly painted, flower-bedecked building but one in which the peeling clapboards create a strong black-and-white pattern. One of his more lyrical shots, titled “Featherstone, Oak Bluffs,” depicts a pattern of bare branches bathed in sun and shadows, with the suggestion of green foliage in the background. “Pollock Floor” portrays a riot of vibrant abstract pattern of primarily orange and red spots, while “Painter, Aquinnah” creates a beautifully balanced composition of a painter’s canvas and the landscape it draws from. A black-and-white study of tourists inside the Statue of Liberty reflects a powerful union of composition, movement, and iconography.

Julian Wise, who opened Island Images Gallery a year ago next to Vineyard Vines in the former Jaba Gallery at the head of Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs, met Mr. Keating’s wife while walking his dog at Squibnocket. After Ms. Boretz told him about her husband’s work and their mutual desire to get a foothold into the Island art scene, Mr. Wise checked Mr. Keating’s website. “My jaw dropped,” he said. “He is a master of composition with a strong narrative style. His work has almost a musical quality.”

Mr. Wise said that Mr. Keating’s Island photography provides a strong contrast to his New York images. The gallery owner is considering collaborating with Mr. Keating to publish a book of his work. “He’s a funny, delightful, interesting guy,” Mr. Wise said.

“Ed Keating, Photographer,” opening reception Friday, July 18, 5 to 7 pm. Island Images Gallery, Oak Bluffs. Show runs through July 25 with selected images on view throughout the summer. For more information, visit islandimagesmv.com.

1
At center is Jessica Pisano's landscapes in acrylic and oil, with silver and gold leaf.

West Tisbury’s Field Gallery has brought together three very different but equally compelling artists in their latest exhibit.

Providence painter David Witbeck, who is showing at the gallery for the first time, creates oil paintings of fish, fishermen, and boats that are boldly simplified in primary colors. Jessica Pisano, who grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and now lives in Newport, R.I., has on exhibit a series of richly textured landscapes in acrylic and oil with silver and gold leaf. Chilmark resident David Geiger works in the unusual medium of glass panels, and rather than painting on glass, uses glass granules to depict such familiar Island scenes as the cliffs at Lucy Vincent Beach, the Gay Head cliffs, and the Chilmark brickyard. Ms. Pisano, who has operated galleries in Vineyard Haven and Edgartown, last appeared at The Field Gallery in 1998; Mr. Geiger has also exhibited his work there.

Three of David Geiger's glass panel pieces.

Three of David Geiger’s glass panel pieces. — Michael Cummo

Mr. Witbeck, who grew up in upstate New York, has had an attraction to salt water and fishing boats since childhood. After spending 25 years as a freelance photographer, he returned to painting. “Having been a photographer for more than three decades, the greatest joy I have as a painter is freedom from ‘reality’,” he has said. Working like a cartoonist, he enjoys twisting, stretching, exaggerating, and simplifying what he sees. A good example of how these forces work for him is in “Split Rock,” a marine scape strikingly familiar to the large rock formation off Lambert’s Cove Beach. According to gallery director Jennifer Pillsworth, Mr. Witbeck had not seen the Lambert’s Cove rock before painting his similar vision. Yet the humorous fishermen holding outsized fish that he depicts in paintings such as “Brandon” and “Orville” are portraits of actual people.

“As a young art student I took myself and art way too seriously,” he said in his artist’s statement. “I still take my art seriously, but my serious intent is to create something that’s well designed and entertaining to look at.”

"Split Rock," an oil on canvas by David Witbeck.

“Split Rock,” an oil on canvas by David Witbeck. — David Witbeck

Ms. Pisano concentrates on trees and woodland-framed water scenes executed in a palette of warm winter browns enhanced with 23-carat gold leaf. Her work is often textured with a handmade paste she makes from marble dust that creates the illusion of gently breaking waves, as in “Deference” and “Gilded Shores.” Whether documenting the landscapes that inspire her in photographs or working plein air, this artist seeks to explore notions of time and atmosphere in her evocative work.

Mr. Geiger has written about his interest in science and in particular its artistic dimensions. He says, “From my amazement at the subtle variations in the colors and patterns of the butterflies and moths I collected as a child, or my fascination with the sculptural forms of insects, or floral segments, or the vast array of configurations found in the structures of minerals and crystals, I have always appreciated the artistry of the natural world.” His choice of glass as an artistic medium seems like a natural extension of these ideas. Fused glass that he may fire four, five, or six times allows him to bridge the gap between painting and sculpture in works like “Old Chilmark Brickyard” and “Cliffs at Lucy Vincent.”

David Witbeck, Jessica Pisano, and David Geiger, show runs through July 26, The Field Gallery, West Tisbury. For more information, visit fieldgallery.com.

1
Crft Shw enjoyed a crowd at last Thursday's opening.

Four out of the five routes at the infamous Five Corners intersection in Vineyard Haven are well traveled roads that lead to and from key Island spots; whether your destination is the Steamship Authority in Vineyard Haven, Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs, or South Beach in Edgartown, Five Corners will get you there — if a bit precariously.

Then there is the shorter fifth street — Beach Road Extension — that is lightly traveled aside from those headed to the Black Dog Restaurant or seeking a view of the harbor’s tall ships. Last Thursday, July 9, that fifth route saw more traffic than usual as art lovers poured in and out of a new gallery, Crft Shw (pronounced “craft show,”) along Beach Road Extension while sipping glasses of champagne and drinking in the atmosphere of modern artwork and wares backed by pulsing electronic music at a grand opening that showcased more than 20 artists.

At first glance, Crft Shw appears to be a quaint hole in the wall wedged between Eastern Yacht Sales and Terrain Architects along a small strip of shops and company buildings. Like the Island itself, it hardly seems possible that a space so small could house more than a few artists at a time, yet the gallery is overflowing with an eclectic array of talents that wouldn’t be out of place at a Brooklyn boutique. Gallery owners Whitney Blank and Deanna deVries have designed the space to allow for the showcasing of the works of artists with local ties, while still leaving room for a workshop/studio in the back.

“We’re showing all of our friends’ work, and hopefully they’ll treat us like their playground,” Ms. Blank said in an interview with The Times. “We want to grow in order to help them grow: it’s not really a for-profit endeavor.”

Ms. deVries and Ms. Blank have lived on the Island since 2012 when a tour with L.A.-based girls band Wet and Reckless took them eastward. Ms. deVries had made Island ties through her classmates such as Hannah Keefe at MassArt where she studied metalsmithing, and the two have spent their years here making friends with local artists and developing their own trades.

“I hope we can create a different voice for the Vineyard in a way because there are a lot of great galleries here, but we have a whole cadre of people who aren’t in those galleries and are making work for a different crowd,” said Ms. Blank.

Ms. deVries added, “We want to focus on artists who we think are underrepresented or underserved.”

Ms. Blank and Ms. deVries use the entirety of their modest space to showcase eccentric works of varying media. Intricate wire sculptures by Duncan Niederlitz tumble from the ceiling and walls; Colin Ruel’s fantastical floral paintings in neon hues are sandwiched between metal-and-solder necklaces and earrings by Hannah Keefe and Nettie Kent’s jewelry made from stone and gold; Elizabeth Cecil’s unearthly “Surfers” photograph hangs directly opposite the entrance.

One part gallery and one part high-end retail store, Crft Shw also sells one-of-a-kind housewares. Enid McEvoy contributed weekender bags and quilts, Andrew Meers his handcrafted knives, and Tim Laursen a long wooden table that houses knickknacks of all sorts, including Ms. deVries’ playful toddler spoons and coffee scoops to accompany coffee roasted by Ms. Blank.

In keeping with past endeavors among the Vineyard artist community, the goal of Ms. Blank and Ms. deVries is to support and cultivate developing local artists. Next on their agenda is to devise workshops for young artists from local schools and to continue to highlight Island artists whose works might not fit with mainstream fine art galleries.

“The butterfly effect of teaching people about art on the Island is so cool to me,” Ms. Blank said. “For example, I lived with Tim Laursen this year and he taught me how to make stained glass, which he had learned through a grant from Featherstone. We would love to become a repository for the community to learn about art and to get inspiration from.”

Crft Shw, located in Vineyard Haven, is open from 11 am to 7 pm, Thursday through Sunday. For more information about workshops and shows, visit crftshw.com.

0
ArtSpace artists, from left: Blanche Somer, Ed Schulman, Margaret Emerson, Hannah Hamilton, Sophie Mueller, Sheila Fane, and Kristen Leigh Conklin.

Artspace, a new gallery and studio space, opened this week in West Tisbury. Organized by Geoff Rose, Artspace is the brainchild of painter Ed Schulman. “He came to me a number of months ago,” Mr. Rose told the M.V. Times last weekend. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a space where people could have studios and show?” Mr. Schulman asked Mr. Rose.

Mr. Rose rented a building at 503 State Road in West Tisbury at the site of the former Up-Island Paint and Tool. He next put out a call to the art community. “Slowly, surely, people got interested,” Mr. Rose said. A group of seven artists have signed on to the collaborative venture. Four have taken studio space and three others plan to display in Artspace’s gallery. The group includes both year-round artists and summer residents.

Last spring, Mr. Rose contacted Holly Alaimo, former Dragonfly Gallery owner, and Our Island Club, a local consumer’s co-op that also raises money for local charities of which Mr. Rose is a co-principal, and asked them to put out a call inviting artists to participate. “I’m simply the developer,” he said. “Ed is a good friend, and I know his passion for art.” The gallery was due to open officially on Wednesday, July 9, and it will remain open at least through October.

A variety of media are represented at the new gallery, including pastels, photography, printmaking, papermaking, and ceramics. Vineyard Haven photographer Kristen Leigh Conklin has her work on display, as does Sheila Fane, a seasonal resident from New York. Painter Ed Schulman is a member of the group, along with Sophie Mueller and Hannah Hamilton of Oak Bluffs. Chilmark summer resident Margaret Emerson and Blanche Somer from West Tisbury round out the group. All seven of the participating artists share in responsibility for staffing the gallery as well as paying the rent. “Everything is working,” Mr. Rose said.

Ms. Fane is among those who received an email alert from Ms. Alaimo about the new gallery. “I’m a West Tisbury resident,” Ms. Fane said. “I really like this part of the Island.” She has been working for 20 years with Sandy Bernat at Seastone Papers in West Tisbury. “I’m her artist in residence,” she said. Her creative work with paper has evolved into pulp painting, as well as pulling paper on a background with a partial screen. She also uses stencils and squeeze bottles to create paper art. In addition to Artspace, she exhibits at Old Sculpin Gallery in Edgartown and Featherstone Center for the Arts. As well as creating landscapes in pulp painting, Ms. Fane makes monotypes, and woodblock/linoleum prints. Now that Joan Merry’s Gossamer Gallery and Ruth Adams’s Treehouse Gallery have closed, she was happy to join the group at Artspace.

Artspace, 503 State Rd., West Tisbury. Thursday-Saturday 10 am to 5 pm; Sunday 12 noon to 4 pm; and by appointment. For more information, email Geoff Rose at Geoff@ourislandclub.com.

0
The cast of Shaina Taub and Kim Rosenstock's new musical, "There's a House."

Keep a close eye on what’s going on at Vineyard Arts Project (VAP) in Edgartown this summer. Many of the theater productions that were developed during summer residencies there — and presented to Vineyard audiences — are now enjoying runs at New York City theaters, on Broadway and at Lincoln Center. And don’t be surprised to find some of the shows currently under development here making their way to prestigious venues. Right now at VAP, teams of accomplished playwrights, directors, and a music composer are working on three new plays. Vineyard audiences have the chance to get a first glimpse of these works-in-progress on Thursday, July 10 and Friday, July 11.

Playwright Kim Rosenstock and composer Shaina Taub are in the process of finishing a musical called “There’s a House,” an original folktale described on the VAP website as “a mystical travelogue loosely inspired by the ballad ‘The House Carpenter.’”

Ms. Rosenstock is a writer for the Fox show “New Girl,” and her play “Tigers Be Still” was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award. Ms. Taub’s debut album was featured on NPR/WNYC’s Best of the Year list. The versatile composer recently won the coveted Jonathan Larson award for musical theater. Her original soul/funk opera was a finalist for the Richard Rodgers Award. Ms. Taub was also recently nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for her role in the critically acclaimed “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.”

Both collaborators are former artists in residence at Ars Nova in New York, which is how they were introduced to VAP. VAP has hosted playwrights and actors from Ars Nova for the past four years.

Playwright Beth Wohl is also currently at VAP with director Rachel Chavkin and a crew of actors working on her play “Small Mouth Sounds.” Ms. Wohl has written a number of plays and has developed film and television work for HBO, USA, Fox, and Paramount.  She has had work commissioned by Manhattan Theatre Club and Center Theatre Group, and has received support from Ars Nova.

The play will be directed by Obie Award-winning director Rachel Chavkin, also nominated for the Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel, whose work includes the world premiere of “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.”

“Small Mouth Sounds” takes place at a silent retreat, which might seem like an odd choice of setting, but, Ashley Melone, founder and director of VAP, said: “You hear the voice of the guru teacher the whole time and there is dialogue. It’s a very touching portrayal of people searching for something. I’m so excited to see it staged. I think it’s going to show what you can communicate without language and what you can learn from silence.”

Ms. Wohl is another playwright whom Ms. Melone met during an Ars Nova residency. The playwright was on the Vineyard last summer with the New York theater group when she began writing her current play.

Rounding out the trio of new plays that will be performed as readings this weekend is “Naperville” by Mat Smart. Mr. Smart is one of the founders of the Slant Theater Project, a New York based organization that helps to develop new works. He is the recipient of the 2014 New Voices Award from the William Inge Center for the Arts. His previous works have received favorable reviews from a number of publications, including The New York Times.

On the VAP website, “Naperville” is described as a romantic comedy. “It’s a comedy but it’s also really touching,” Ms. Melone said. “The play is about a mother/son relationship. The mother is blinded in an accident and she’s learning how to live as a blind person.”

Tony and Emmy Award winning actress Debra Monk will star in “Naperville.” All of those taking part in the in the trio of plays are equity actors and/or singers from New York City.

Two years ago, VAP hosted an initial reading of Pulitzer Prize winner James Lapine’s “Act One.” This past spring that play completed a three-month run at Lincoln Center.

“Disgraced,” a play by Ayad Akhtar, was part of VAP’s 2010 New Writers/New Plays series and is now headed to Broadway’s Lyceum Theater after being produced at Lincoln Center. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins presented a reading of his play, “Appropriate,” at VAP in 2012. This past spring both “Appropriate” and his subsequent play “An Octoroon” enjoyed New York City runs. The latter play won two Obie Awards, while the former was a New York Times critics pick.

Considering VAP’s track record and Ms. Melone’s eye for new talent, the theater lab tucked away in a compound on upper Main Street in Edgartown should be the place to be this summer for audiences wishing to be among the first to witness some exciting new works in theater.

Also coming to the Vineyard for the first time this summer is Rosie’s Kids, aneducational program founded by Rosie O’Donnell. VAP will host a retreat for the nonprofit in August so it’s possible that the theater and dance compound will prove to be an early breeding ground for some of the next generation’s major theater talent.

Theater: “There’s a House,” 4 pm on July 10; 9 pm on July 11. “Small Mouth Sounds,” 9 pm on July 10; 6:30 pm on July 11. “Naperville,” 6:30 pm on July 10; 4 pm on July 11. All shows at Vineyard Arts Project, Edgartown. For more information, call 508-413-2104 or visit vineyardartsproject.org.

0

Artist Chris Roberts-Antieau brings New Orleans funk to an Edgartown pop-up.

"Constellations."

Chris Roberts-Antieau calls me from a cemetery, somewhere in her home state of Michigan. A storm knocked out her power and cell reception the previous evening, but she is still jovial. She laughs. She has found a way to communicate with me, even though it meant traveling through a rather dismal place.

"Dad on a Hill."

“Dad on a Hill.” — Antieau Gallery

Ms. Roberts-Antieau is the owner, and artist, at Edgartown’s newest pop-up, The Antieau Gallery on North Water Street. Her work includes mixed media sculptures, and colorful, folk art inspired fabric work. Rest assured, these are not your grandmother’s quilts.

Like many young women, Ms. Roberts-Antieau first learned to sew in seventh grade home economics class. “I’ve always been drawn to fabric,” said the artist, who first tried channeling her creative impulses into clothing design. “That was horrible,” she admits. “I burnt out on that pretty quickly.” One day, a friend recommended that she try framing some of her fabric-applique designs, and – voila! – a style was born.

“It’s basically an old quilting technique,” Ms. Roberts-Antieau said of her applique work. “It’s cut fabric sewn onto a fabric background. I sometimes do up to four or five layers.” She also uses machine embroidery, which she describes as “basically drawing with a sewing machine.” Her newest works involve “scribbling with different color thread, so you get sort of a painting effect.”

The result is an homage to the American quilting tradition, a nod to folk art inspired subjects like birds roosting in a tree among stars. In one work, a stone-faced man with a guitar looks straight ahead. It is unclear whether he is ignoring the temptresses surrounding the frame, or if he has already submitted to them. Other pieces appear to be tapestries of advice: “Anything can kill you” reads one quilt work, depicting several of the more comical ways to meet your maker. Another advises what to do “in case of fire.”

There is a decidedly dark undercurrent ripping through the joyously colorful works, but Ms. Roberts-Antieau still makes it hard to keep a straight face. Her snowglobe collection, for instance, takes the beauty and innocence of a delicate child’s toy, and places it inside disastrous scenes of murders and chimpanzee attacks. On display now is a diorama-like dollhouse depicting the rooms of the Clutter house, where a family of four was murdered in 1959 in Kansas. (If you haven’t read Capote’s “In Cold Blood,” put down this article and go do it.) “Even with the dark pieces, people laugh,” said gallery director Heidi Henrick. “They find the humor in either the absurdity or reality of it.”

"The Blues Saved My Life."

“The Blues Saved My Life.” — Antieau Gallery

“As an artist, you need to explore all aspects of the human existence, the dark and the light side,” Ms. Roberts-Antieau explained. “I’m intrigued by both, by joy and sadness. I kind of do whatever I want. Hopefully all artists are able to do that — that’s kind of the point.”

The Edgartown pop-up is the second Antieau Gallery in the United States. Ms. Roberts-Antieau opened the first, in New Orleans, as a pop-up opportunity after displaying her work at Jazz Fest in 2010. The gallery has since become a staple in the New Orleans art scene.

“New Orleans is one of those places you sort of fall in love with,” Ms. Roberts-Antieau said. “The Vineyard has a lot of the same properties as New Orleans. It’s a great mix of people, it’s down to earth, it’s a very similar vibe, with its own flavor.”

The New Orleans style has percolated into Ms. Roberts-Antieau’s work in more ways than one. The colors, the themes, the subject matter: there’s a music to it that’s part jangling ragtime and part bittersweet delta blues. The Big Easy has also worked its way into the way Ms. Roberts-Antieau and Ms. Henrick run their gallery. “We’re trying to bring a little bit of New Orleans to Martha’s Vineyard,” Ms. Roberts-Antieau said. No quiet wine and cheese receptions here. The Antieau Gallery will host Pabst Blue Ribbon sponsored live music bashes all summer, along with special New Orleans guests that may include spoken word poetry and a brass band.

The whole gallery, the work, the vibe, is wonderfully unpretentious, one of those refreshing reminders that life is for the living. Just like laughing in a graveyard.

Opening Reception: Friday, July 11, 6 pm. Music by  Jeremy Berlin and Randy Eckert. Antieau Gallery is located at 11 N. Summer St. in Edgartown. For more information, call 508-627-7471 or email heidi@antieaugallery.com.

0
John Holladay "Up Island" 48x70 acrylic on canvas

Vineyard Haven is decked out for the season. From window boxes overflowing with blossoms and enticing window designs, to “Now Open” signs, there’s no mistaking the good news that summer is here.

Gallery owner Louisa Gould dived into the spirit with her upbeat and colorful “Summertime” exhibit opening last Saturday, June 28. Four artists, each with a very personal style, offer their unique interpretations of summer. Michael Haydn’s guitar tunes  set a festive mood, and light refreshments were served.

"Best Friends" 12x16 by Kate Huntington

“Best Friends” 12×16 by Kate Huntington — Photo courtesy of Louisa Gould G

For Kate Huntington, summertime is beach time — and none would disagree. The Providence artist presents beach scenes marked by energy, color, and spontaneity. She captures the seashore sights so precisely that one can experience other sense perceptions too…the smell of salt air (and even Coppertone), sounds of surf, children’s giggles, the delicious sensation of cold water after hot sun.

Striped beach umbrellas in red, white, blue, seem to shout, “Hooray, it’s summer!” while shading flocks of active beachgoers. This quintessential Oak Bluffs seashore scene is complete with chairs, coolers, blankets, and two determined bathers.

“Best Friends” in bright bathing suits sit together in the sand, sharing pail and shovel. Lifeguards on their tall wooden perch watch over a cavorting crowd at South Beach. A young girl sits in cool shallows, digging. A little boy scuffs along water’s edge, yellow bucket in hand. When swimmers brave the surf we feel it sting our skin, hear it roar.

And what would the beach be without a dog or two.  “Black and Yellow,” a matched pair on red leashes, gaze out to sea, predictably soggy and sandy.

John Holladay — the only full-time Vineyarder among the four artists — works in a small corner of his home in a quiet Vineyard Haven neighborhood, but he paints the wide-open spaces. His most striking canvas is a view of the Keith Farm in Chilmark, a spectacular sight familiar to anyone who drives up Island on Middle Road.

The antique, lichen-covered stonewall is in the foreground. Across the gently rolling green meadow we see a quiet pond, the barn with its bright red door, a distant farmhouse, the ocean far beyond. The sky is light blue, clear; grasses grow high along the wall. All suggest the quiet heat of midsummer in Chilmark.

There are other up-Island farm scenes and for a true, iconic image of summer, Mr. Holladay paints the cliffs at Lucy Vincent Beach, sculpted by erosion.

Mr. Holladay, who has been a celebrated sports cartoon artist and a teacher, is a dedicated landscape painter these days, something Vineyard art lovers can celebrate.

Maya Farber "lillies" 18x24acrylic on canvas

Maya Farber “lillies” 18x24acrylic on canvas — Photo courtesy of Louisa Gould G

Maya Farber’s paintings portray a trio of subjects: barnscapes seen in three seasons, three still lifes, and three floral portraits.

Born in Romania, Ms. Farber resides in Manhattan and upstate New York. She has a distinguished resume of studies and exhibitions in Europe and the United States. Yet she knows her simple, homey subjects intimately — the barn, fresh eggs, fruit, garden flowers — and portrays them with modest grace.

Her still lifes offer summer with a quiet, rural feel. Here, three empty glass containers — Coke bottle, Ball jar, Mason jar — sit on a table beside a painted bowl heaped with eggs, each shell a different shade.

There is the serene feeling of coming indoors on a summer day, the dim room cool, while outside it is hot and sunny. Sculpted fruit — a green pear, plump plum, clustered grapes evoke the same country kitchen feeling.

There are brilliant blue hydrangeas; loose bouquets of lilies in china vases, so real looking their perfume seems to scent the air.

Ms. Farber enjoys still life painting and wrote that the women’s movement allowed her to explore self-expression using this “female” imagery to her “great personal satisfaction.”

Ms. Farber paints a stolid white barn with twin silos seen across the seasons, snow-covered, under a blue summer sky, with cows in autumn. The scenes have a familiar, intimate feeling: little wonder, for the Farbers raise beef cattle here.

Peter Batchelder "Up Island View" 30 x24Oil on Canvas

Peter Batchelder “Up Island View” 30 x24Oil on Canvas — Photo courtesy of Louisa Gould G

For Peter Batchelder, a prolific New Hampshire artist who once wrote art reviews and operated a gallery on the Vineyard, New England’s coastal and rural landscapes provide inspiration and raw material for his paintings.

“I take creative license with locations,” he explained. “I don’t always want the pieces to be literal.”

He paints a building’s actual shape, but alters surroundings, adding grasses, removing trees for an ocean view. He may pluck a structure from its own environment, show it in a new setting, simplify the design’s elements.

Mr. Batchelder creates scenes so familiar we feel we must have driven by them recently. Or, we wonder, was it a dream or a childhood memory? But whether or not they look like Chilmark, Cape Cod, or the New England woods is not the most important. These canvases are visually arresting, breath-taking, their spare compositions of buildings, trees, fields depicted with lush, over-the-top, super-saturated colors that are far from spare.

Embodying the Summertime theme, Mr. Batchelder’s scenes are dramatically enhanced and defined by the intense light of high summer. He believes a sense of place is “as much about color and light” as it is the location. In love with color, he may pick the color he wants to use before choosing the scene.

A field of tall grass is washed in the thick yellow gold of twilight; a peaked roofed house on a hillside is bleached by white-hot noonday sun; a big barn glows bright red. Contrast is intense: deep purple shadows, vibrant turquoise sky.

Should a visitor crave more summertime views there is plenty to see in the gallery, highlighted by Ms. Gould’s photographs of sailboats in many waters, dynamic ships under sail by painter Frauke Klatt, and works by other maritime and coastal artists. This show continues through July 16. “Colorburst,” featuring five artists, begins July 17.

Louisa Gould Gallery is located at 54 Main Street in Vineyard Haven. For more information, call 508-693-7373 or visit louisagould.com.