Galleries : Ms. Hull's double vision
The walls of the Hermine Merel Smith Fine Art gallery, which is set in a woodsy glade across the street from the West Tisbury fire station, where her husband volunteers, are filled with Hermine Hull's landscapes, still lifes, interiors, and figure paintings. Occasionally, woodcut artist Ruth Kirchmeier shares space with her friend in the gallery that still carries Ms. Hull's maiden name.
"Representing myself feels totally different," says Ms. Hull, who for 22 years has made her living exclusively as an art dealer, using her eye and her expertise as a proven painter to sell the work of other artists.
This summer Ms. Hull celebrates her fifth year in the business of representing herself in the established West Tisbury gallery that has featured work by as many as 20 different artists. "I had to promote their work," she says. "My whole raison d'etre was them. There's a real temptation when it's your own work and your own studio not to promote yourself."
Making decisions about pricing and arranging other artist's paintings seemed so simple. She finds it harder to set prices for herself, especially because she's never shown anywhere else. "I don't believe art should be so expensive people can't afford it," she says. "I don't like it when galleries are intimidating."
Ms. Hull still remembers what it was like to hang her first show. "I walked into the gallery, and I looked at this record of my world for the past year. It was a wonderful feeling," she says. "There's nothing like it. It's humbling."
Now Ms. Hull must produce an entire gallery full of work each season. That doesn't faze her. "Work begets work," she says. "The more you paint, the more ideas you get."
At first, Ms. Hull painted landscapes exclusively. In art school, she had concentrated on interiors and figures, so landscapes were a new frontier, helping her relearn the basics of color and form.
"I had a knack for it," she says. "It's gratifying. A small landscape is salable. There's no two ways about it." But moving past that wasn't an issue.