Photographer discusses Martha’s Vineyard connections

Photographer R. Michael Beatty, currently exhibiting at Shaw Cramer Gallery in Vineyard Haven, chats with an admirer. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

A large photograph of Menemsha harbor, split into three frames, runs across the Shaw Cramer Gallery wall. The setting is reminiscent of many other gallery shows, but this image is different. The fog and sea spray are textured with a clear, encaustic wax, giving the image a vivid depth that provides a third dimension of definition.

The photograph, “Menemsha Fog,” hangs in R. Michael Beatty’s spotlight show at the Shaw Cramer Gallery in Vineyard Haven, up until June 5.

Mr. Beatty’s show stretches photography past its two-dimensional boundaries. He lets the makeup of his images determine how they will be used. Images of lighthouses and sunsets are turned into four-panel lampshades or lit plexiglass etchings, while beach scenes ripple around the shoulders as silk scarves. His many uses of photographs are unified by his search to find the best way to express his subject.

“Every photographer is different,” said Mr. Beatty, who discussed his technique at a recent gallery talk, “and their photos are not reality. They are one person’s reality. How the image is cropped, the intensity of color, how the photo is displayed, all make different images.”

The Shaw Cramer Gallery has 12 to 15 spotlight shows each summer in its second-story Main Street location. The shows provide space to highlight the work of one artist, amid the multitude of gorgeous works that are displayed all season long. The summer season includes weekly artist talks, where artists have one hour discussions in conversational settings.

Gallery owner Nancy Shaw Cramer designed the format to provide shows but not overload the crowded summer gallery reception schedule. Receptions at the Shaw Cramer gallery are for all of the artists, many of whom were on hand Saturday, May 26.

“We work hard to keep a variety of mediums and styles in order to keep the gallery interesting and have things that people want to see and take home,” said Ms. Cramer.

The next spotlight show will feature printmaker J. Ann Eldridge, June 23–30. On June 30, she will be joined by Laura Wainwright, author of “Home Bird: Four Seasons on Martha’s Vineyard,” which includes etchings by Ms. Eldridge.