The art of water at Chilmark Library


Gathered in sunny Chilmark last Saturday afternoon milled a crowd of more than 50 who took the time to indulge in art that had one thing in common: water. The show, which premiered at the Chilmark Library, was curated by Melissa Breese, who gathered pieces from 11 Island artists in less than a week.

Ms. Breese, director of the Martha’s Vineyard Art Association, is a strong figure in the art community and knows many by first name and face. It didn’t take long to pursue her idea for the art show and get pieces from the artists herself.

All sold pieces benefit World Waterways, a nonprofit organization founded by William Waterway Marks, of Edgartown, in 1984. He has organized grants to study the effects of acid rain, to perform ground water studies on the Vineyard, and to fix and restore three of the Island’s lighthouses. More recently, Mr. Waterway has been studying the effects of tsunamis.

The artists represented in the show include Virginia Weston Besse, Marston Clough, Louisa Gould, Anthony Benton Gude, Jonathan Klenner, Steve Lohman, Sandra Lothrup, Dylan Sean Murray, Alison Shaw, Vaclav Vytlacil, and Ian Whitt.

Among the many pieces shown are Steve Lohman’s wire fantasies, simple to the eye at first, but if one tries to construct these mentally, without clay or wire in hand, they become overwhelming. The three wire works: “Mermaid,” “Jaws,” and “Canoe Girl” vary in portrayal. “Canoe Girl” enlightens as a woman’s silhouette pulling at the water with all her might, smiling in her boat; a wonderful display of emotion, nature, and force at the same time.

Vaclav Vytlacil’s mixed media piece from 1960, “Surf,” boasts a prolific use of turquoise entwined with abstract waves of turmoil. Smaller in size and even deeper in texture is his “Rocks and Sea.”

“Cormoranti,” a silkscreen by Virginia Weston Besse, grants the viewer tranquility through the lambent show of blue and green. Skill and patience are prevalent as well in her silkscreen. Dylan Murray, a recent graduate of Pratt Institute, shows the audience a version of Cedar Tree Neck through the lens of a Japanese panoramic camera. Showing little or no color but seemingly translucent to the eyes, the resulting light portrayed grants the effect of an oil painting.

Four pieces — two watercolors and two oil paintings done in 2009 and 2010 by Anthony Benton Gude — show an appreciation for water. You can witness it in the petite frame of “Clean Water,” a watercolor that depicts a surfer, to the grand scale of “Mother and Calf” an oil painting that illustrates life in the water under a dramatically dark, swirling sky.

Marston Clough shows his love of water through a set of five paintings. This set evokes the feeling of summer all over again. “Dawn” is a dreamy piece. The gentle red and orange hue are the only hint that it is early morning, while tiny lights in the distance suggest a bit of human life in the vast ocean space.

Louisa Gould displays two photographs. The photos are highlighted in ripples of red, blues, and green, the latter a vivid teal in “Teal Water,” set against white and black. Sandra Lothrup uses a great amount of detail of smooth, pointillist brushstrokes. A photograph shot this past summer entitled “Sengekontacket” by Jonathan Klenner is a captured moment with light and water.

“Monhegan,” a large photograph by Alison Shaw, steals the onlooker away into her waves, wondering how it’s not a painting.

A more tangible grasp of the water shows the force of a wave in the glass-blown piece by Ian Whitt. The reality in the piece is set in the colors of glass Mr. Whitt chose to melt together in this little masterpiece of nature.

The show runs through November 27, during regular library hours. For more information, call 508-645-3360.

Carla Felter is a freelance writer living in West Tisbury.