Galleries : Abstract & urban at PIKNIK
Michael Hunter, owner of PIKNIK Art & Apparel in the Oak Bluffs Arts District, insists he didn't set out to shake up the Vineyard. "My shows are self-indulgent," he says, almost apologetically. "They're just an extension of me. I have a passion for the abstract and non-representational world."
This summer, others who share Mr. Hunter's taste for the untraditional should make a concerted effort to stop by the smorgasbord of a fine art gallery, clothing, and accessories boutique he has created at 99 Dukes County Avenue in Oak Bluffs. For the past 14 years, he has lured customers with his extraordinary sense of whimsy, nostalgia, and cutting edge style. Last summer, demonstrating his ability to push the envelope in the Vineyard art scene, Mr. Hunter launched two new themed shows: The Abstract Event and The Urban Show. Both were resounding successes, he says.
From now through August 5, abstract art enthusiasts will find an arresting and varied mix of work from nine accomplished artists during the gallery's second annual event. And, from August 8 through 26, the gallery will host the second annual Urban Show, featuring nine artists' nods to metropolitan living and cityscape.
This past Friday, the evening before the opening of the abstract show, Mr. Hunter surveyed the partially transformed gallery walls, running his fingers through abundant silver hair and scratching his beard thoughtfully. "The works speak to one another," he explained. "I start out with a blueprint of how I think the exhibit will hang and then it takes on a life of its own." Less than 24 hours before guests were scheduled to arrive, he planned to refresh the paint on exhibition panels and the gallery floor, hang the remaining pieces, and create a method to suspend Michele Ratté's luminous fabric sculptures.
Deejay Di, one of the Island's sought-after disc jockeys, had received her play list for the following evening, works from contemporary classical composer Philip Glass and experimental musician Laurie Anderson, chosen specifically by Mr. Hunter to complement the evening's theme. Calla lilies from a farm in Western Massachusetts were handpicked and hand-delivered by the grower. "Don't worry," Mr. Hunter assured me with a blend of confidence and resignation at the long night ahead, "It'll all come together."