Shop Talk : Nautical art for the holidays
We live on an Island, so obviously we love the ocean and the many endeavors that go with it. During the holidays, nautical is a great theme to go with when gifting a loved one or friend. Luckily we have many wonderful options to choose from, no matter where you find yourself.
In Edgartown, Tom DeMont's Edgartown Scrimshaw Gallery is a must. Scrimshaw is a type of folk art dating from at least the 17th century in which whales' teeth, whalebones, and walrus tusks were engraved or lightly carved with a picture or design. Tom, a wonderful artist in his own right, says that the most popular gift for men is their large selection of pocketknives and money clips ($45 and up). For women, the Nantucket Baskets - handmade baskets that feature a slotted wooden bottom in which hardwood staves are inserted then woven with rattan weavers over a round or oval mold, topped with a choice piece of scrimshaw - is the definite winner. They also carry a very unique collection of scrimshaw jewelry and accessories.
While "bling" would not describe this form of art, "amazing" would, and when placed on a chain, money clip, or cufflink ($85) the bearer can share the beauty throughout the day. Some of the old standby gifts have been given new life with the addition of scrimshaw and ensures that your gift of a letter opener ($68-150), wine bottle stopper ($68-95), or antique ivory book mark ($28-$45) will bring a genuine smile to the receiver.
Scrimshaw is not the only highlight in the gallery, as exhibited by Michael Potiva, whose nautical paintings done on giclée maps make him the gallery's best selling artist. Admittedly, though, the thing that kept catching my eye as I walked through the gallery was the spinning globe that seemed to float over a clear stand. Tom explained that this treasure, the Mova Globe ($125), converts ambient light into voltage to power the continually turning globe. He says it has been the store's number one seller for the past two years.
The Seaworthy Gallery on Beach Road (across from the ArtCliff Diner) in Vineyard Haven is a nautical picture haven run by Jeff Serusa. Jeff, who grew up on the Island, is the resident artist who personally prints and frames every piece. He uses an old classic 8 x 10 format film camera to capture all his pictures. He is particularly proud of "Sea Smoke," which some consider the best picture ever taken of the Islander. Celebrating its one-year anniversary, the gallery is filled with pictures taken only on the Island. All of them are limited editions, signed, and numbered. Prices range from $125 to $595, and photos can be shipped anywhere in the country. If you have a history buff to buy for, they also have you covered with a large selection of antique nautical charts from the 1800s.
Scott McDowell, owner and artist of Copperworks in Menemsha, has combined his love of fishing and art into a shop/studio that is well known for unique high-quality pieces of copper from weathervanes, lighting fixtures, and kitchen pot racks to low relief fishes. Scott's original copper fish is still a stunning highlight ($150 and up). He has taken his work to new levels by designing fabulous metal sculptures, lamps (the skate wall sconce is my personal favorite at $250), and chandeliers. Scott is always up for a special order, so feel free to stop by the studio or call him at 508-645-2995.
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