Galleries : Different strokes
"You're too fabulous for Martha's Vineyard," a customer tells Kim Nye as she leaves the Nye gallery in Oak Bluffs. The gallery owner responds, "Martha's Vineyard is fabulous."
It is a telling interaction that indicates the unusual nature of both Ms. Nye and her dramatically appointed gallery on Uncas Avenue.
The Nye Gallery is a vast open space that embodies New York style gallery chic. Although her demeanor is quiet, the space she has created reflects Ms. Nye's bold presence, and as gallery owner, her gallery and the work she represents seem to indelibly thread together. All the details have been considered. Classic songs by Frank Sinatra are typically heard upon entering the gallery, designer chairs stand ready for clients, and tables are stacked with high fashion photography books. And everything is surrounded by the work of notable Island and off-Island artists.
"When you buy art you are making big personal choices," Ms. Nye says. "You are garnering knowledge of people's emotions and understanding different lives and lifestyles."
The work of Islanders Rez Williams and Lucy Mitchell (husband and wife), occupy a regular space in the gallery. Several of Mr. Williams's out-sized, out-spoken paintings of steel New Bedford commercial fishing boats and on display, as are many of Ms. Mitchell's free-standing sculptures made of scrap wood she's collected on the beach or at Gannon & Benjamin and wrapped with paper she has designed.
On Saturday, August 15, the gallery will host an opening for two off-Island artists: Jon Imber and Jill Hoy, each of whom boasts distinct, vibrant styles and an impressive resume. Jill Hoy's figurative works scream of color and hint of social realist principles. Jon Imber's landscapes and floral scenes are both fantastical and gestural.
The location of her gallery just past the hubbub of Circuit Avenue does not affect the art Ms. Nye presents. "The art I have on my wall here is the art I would have anywhere." She picks pieces that she likes to have around her, finding inspiration in the artistic talent she works with.
Ms. Nye opened the gallery last year after a high fashion modeling career that spanned 14 years in New York - a city she had always thought she would always call home until an impulsive move to the Island 11 years ago. Although she says had often thought of opening a gallery, it was her Island lifestyle that served as a catalyst. "There is a strong identity here and everything just came naturally," she notes, adding that it just became obvious that she was ready to jump into the gallery business.
"When I came here, I loved that I had a real sense of a tangible working community," she says, and maintains that she finds an edge in the bucolic lifestyle despite its laid-back pace. "There is so much stimulus," she says. "I am constantly aware of its diversity and multiculturalism. Its character makes it feel like a blend, somewhat like a small city."
Despite her gallery's uncanny similarities to a New York gallery and her own New York persona, Ms. Nye insists that she does not try to go against the grain. "If the gallery feels like New York, it's because it's engrained in me," she says. "One place isn't better than the other, I am just doing what I do. I do my job with 100 percent passion."
NYE Gallery, 8 Uncas Ave., Oak Bluffs. Featuring Leslie Baker, Jill Hoy, Jon Imber, Lucy Mitchell, Rez Williams, and others. 508-693-9700.