Three galleries share series

"Blue Bowl," oil on gold leaf by Stephanie Danforth.
File photo by Courtesy The Granary Gallery

"Blue Bowl," oil on gold leaf by Stephanie Danforth.

The Field Gallery, The Granary, and North Water Gallery will each play host to a different aspect of an ambitious three-part theme show: “Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral.” It is the first time that all three of Chris and Sheila Morse’s galleries — North Water in Edgartown, The Field Gallery and The Granary Gallery in West Tisbury — are joining together in the same event over a six-week period, and even more impressively, the first time 120 artists are involved, each making new work specifically for the show.

The idea took form this past winter in a brainstorming session. “We were thinking, what would be a fun way to shake it up a little bit,” explains Jhen Watts, manager of the Field Gallery, “The idea of [a show based on] animal, vegetable and mineral came from the game of 20 questions.”

The artists who were invited were given the requirement that they submit new work not previously shown in the galleries. Each gallery is hosting one of the show’s three themes: “Animal” opens at the Field Gallery this weekend, July 4, and runs through July 17; “Vegetable” opens at The Granary on July 11, and runs through July 24, and “Mineral” at the North Water Gallery in Edgartown runs from July 29 to August 11.

The intention is to demonstrate a variety of art and introduce new artists to the fans of each gallery. Long time Granary staff member David Wallis, says, “We are trying to cross-pollinate. Every artist would love the opportunity to show at three galleries, so it’s very exciting for them. As a business idea, we are hoping to spread out a little bit and have people think outside their normal routes.”

The show also challenges artists to push themselves creatively, to turn their attention to objects, rather than the usual Island landscapes.

“The show covers a broader spectrum, to get the artists to think outside of their comfort zones,” Mr. Morse says. “It is interesting how different artists have responded and what they have chosen to focus on.”

Ms. Watts, says, “I’m really proud of how broadly people choose to create. It’s inspired us to do it again next year.”

For artist Ben Cabot, whose hand-carved stone birds can be seen perched outside the Field Gallery, the choice to show in the animal and mineral exhibits was an easy one. But in a departure from his usual subjects, Mr. Cabot carved a sea turtle out of creamy marble flecked with blue and green veins.

“There are plenty of animal sculptures of mine at The Field Gallery now but I wanted to have something that was a little different and unique for the show,” he says.

Mr. Cabot will also have work in the “Vegetable” show: An abstract mushroom carved from Island quartz, inspired by the shape of granary stones, which were shaped like the fungi to keep mice from climbing up. He looks forward to introducing his sculpture at North Water Gallery.

“I’m excited to see everyone come together…” he says. “It’s amazing how localized people can get here on the Island.”

Best known for her botanical creations, Peggy Turner Zablotny decided to reach outside the box with a submission in each of the shows. For “Animal,” she created “Harry Haircut.” Against a backdrop made from her dog Harry’s hair, she fashioned four books telling of Harry’s transformation from shaggy to stylish. For the “Mineral,” show, she used wire, shells and beach stones, to create “The Nature and Magic of Calcium Carbonate.”

Like the other artists, Ms. Turner Zablotny used the show as inspiration to push her boundaries. “It is an opportunity to do things that you might not ordinarily do,” she says. “It gives you an open door to say, ‘what else can I do?’ It will be interesting to see the reactions.”

Painter Stephanie Danforth also chose to explore the abstract, submitting a stunning painting of a blue bowl filled with eggs against a gold leaf background for the Animal exhibit. “My bowl is a wannabe animal because of the eggs,” she says. Ms. Danforth is also working on a piece for the “Mineral” show: An etched copper, brass, and gold rabbit inscribed with quotations about fear, associated with the rabbit in folklore.

“I think it is wonderful because it’s a chance for the artists to get together … There is nothing more fun than getting a bunch of artists together with the same assignment and seeing what they all come up with.”

“Animal” opens at the Field Gallery on State Road in West Tisbury, on Friday, July 2, and runs through July 17. 508-693-5595.