Gallery hopping: Two towns host arts strolls


It began rather quietly five years ago in downtown Edgartown, and four years ago in the Arts District in Oak Bluffs. The towns’ art galleries took over the streets for an evening. The galleries threw open their doors and invited the public to walk in, to view the artwork, to meet the artists, and to become acquainted with the gallery owners.

Come they did. Parades of people spilled over the sidewalks going from one gallery to another, sauntering in and out, talking to the artists and the gallery owners, sampling the wine, the refreshments, and most important, taking in the visual displays by locally and nationally known artists.

The strolls are a treasure trove of all varieties of original work, all accessible in one fell swoop. There are sculpture, wearable art and accessories, jewelry, photography, metals, contemporary and traditional paintings.

Gallery strolls have now become an anticipated part of the Vineyard season. It’s a family-style festive evening with Islanders, artists, summer residents and tourists. It’s about meeting, greeting, and discussing art.

On August 14, from 4 to 7 pm, Oak Bluffs will host its second Arts District Arts Stroll of 2010.

In Oak Bluffs, the courtyard of PIKNIK Fine Art & Apparel, with its artifacts and unusual art, will most likely take on the appearance of a block party. Gallery owner Michael Hunter supplies visitors with the inside scoop on his artists and their various processes.

If past years are any indication, there will be clusters of people lingering at Dragonfly Gallery and directly across the road, at the Alison Shaw Gallery, at Stefanie Wolf Designs Jewelry Studio, at Amity Custom Ink, and at Lucinda’s Enamels. It is the combination of art and socializing that lends energy to the occasion.

The second Edgartown Evening with the Arts of the year will be August 12, from 6 to 8 pm. Elizabeth Eisenhauer, owner of The Eisenhauer Gallery in Edgartown, recorded in The Martha’s Vineyard Times, described the evening this way, “The Edgartown Gallery Stroll is not just about the art. It’s a night for the community to come together.”

This year, with its economic constraints and adjustments, gallery owners are especially sensitive to helping art collectors make the best choices. The strolls offer a chance for the public to speak with artists and gallery owners.

This year in Edgartown, the participating in-town galleries – Eisenhauer Gallery, Willoughby Gallery, Christina Gallery, and North Water Gallery – will among them provide a diverse range of sculptures, prints, hand-blown glass, original paintings from classic to contemporary, portraits to landscapes, and feature the artists who’ve become their clients’ favorites.

Two towns and two nights of artistic pleasure – all free for the strolling. There’s no doubt that fine art on the Island is relevant, significant, and very much part of the Island experience.