New and returning artists provide a great mix at Dragonfly

Dragonfly owners Susan Davy and Don McKillop. — Photo by Angelina Godbout

The lovely Dragonfly Gallery, nestled on a charmingly landscaped corner in the Oak Bluffs Arts District, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The gallery, which was one of the first to open on the Dukes County Avenue gallery row, changed hands in 2009 and owners Don McKillop and Susan Davy have made the space their own, featuring both established local artists and a number of talented and innovative painters and sculptors whom they have discovered in the course of their travels.

On Memorial Day weekend, the husband and wife co-owners introduced the 2013 lineup of artists during two receptions. The collection, which ranges from traditional to contemporary and encompasses a variety of mediums, including some unique ones, represents new work by 23 artists — both new and returning.

Dragonfly Gallery does not host traditional openings or focus on spotlight artist shows. Instead, the owners rotate works from their existing roster, introducing new works often throughout the summer and rehanging the collection periodically.

“Our usual process is all of the artists all of the time,” says Ms. Davy. “We show everybody because we feel having a two-week show doesn’t serve our audience who come here for a short period in the summer and doesn’t serve the artist well just to have a narrow window.”

This year, the gallery has added six new artists and welcomed back local painter Adam Thompson, who took a one-year hiatus. The current selection of more than 100 works features predominantly landscapes.

Occupying the front facing wall are three large dramatic works by one of Dragonfly’s new artists, Wendy Prellwitz, an architect and artist who lives on Long Island. Ms. Prellwitz focuses on water, capturing the movement of currents and the play of light on the surface. These focused studies are highly sensory, almost abstract pieces by an artist who is clearly captivated by the beauty of nature’s patterns.

Next to these large eye-catching pieces are a couple of works by artists — one local, one from the Southwest — whose unusual techniques have resulted in beautiful stylistic works of art. “Menemsha Marsh” by former Island artist Jessica Pisano is a wonderful study in sepia and gold capturing that moment when the late afternoon light catches a snaking stream through a marshy field and illuminates the surrounding grass for spectacular effect. Ms. Pisano used glints of gold leaf to create a shimmery effect and then continued the shine with a gold leaf thread running through a turquoise border. The addition of this marbleized “frame” adds bold color to this sepia-toned scene for a stylistic effect.

Above Ms. Pisano’s painting is an example of the three-dimensional work of another artist new to the gallery. Mosaicist Carol Talkov creates lovely patterns from small flat tiles hand cut from rocks and minerals. She uses coordinating colors to create striated designs, which she displays in square box frames. The works are unusual and very attractive, attesting to Ms. Tarkov’s other career as an interior designer. The color patterns created using such materials as limestone, marble, granite, and blue and rose calcite, have a bit of the effect of a painting by Art Nouveau artist Gustave Klimt but in purely decorative abstracts.

Each of the other new artists has their own way of viewing the Vineyard landscape. Stephanie Reiter employs bright colors and bold brushstrokes to create stylized landscapes. June Schoppe uses soft colors in her seascapes, which almost always feature a secluded beach path welcoming the viewer into a calm seascape.

Erin Hanson, an avid rock climber who was recently featured as an Artist to Watch in Southwest Art Magazine, creates large vivid Vineyard landscapes with bold colors, wide brushstrokes, and lots of texture. Debbie Rosenthal focuses on streams, ponds, and marshes in her small soft pastel paintings, while Judy Perry spotlights dramatic skies over the ocean in rich pastel colors.

Returning artists with unusual styles include Nora Rosenbaum, who achieves a striking effect using oil on recycled copper, and Christie Scheele, who has created a lovely atmospheric triptych of a desolate Seaview Avenue on a foggy day. Nan Hass Feldman’s signature style features vibrant, lively interiors or city street scenes with lots of squiggly lines, distorted shapes, and layered patterns with lots of colors in muted shades.

Departing from the landscape are local artists Adam Thompson and Wanda Wiggins, whom the Dragonfly owners discovered in New Orleans, not realizing that she had a connection with the Vineyard. Mr. Thompson’s highly focused almost cinematic “snapshots” feature things like roof angles, a park bench, or the front section of the ferry. Ms. Wiggins created a colorful mixed media “Sisters” series featuring images of African-American women enjoying the pleasures of the Island.

Ms. Davy and Mr. McKillop, both accomplished artists in their own right, found the time this past winter to create new work during their off-season travels. Mr. McKillop, who was the first Artist in Residence at the Kevin Box Studio in New Mexico, is showing interesting small square abstracts. Ms. Davy’s lovely “Beach Haiku” photos are available as prints or in a calendar, along with other interesting close-up color shots and a wonderfully moody scene of a rusted out boat stranded in a marsh.

The gallery is also showing small-scale work of three Southwest sculptors, each with a unique style and a somewhat whimsical approach.

The variety of the work at Dragonfly is one of the things that has earned the gallery the Best of the Vineyard designation for seven years by Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, including the last five years in a row. A visit to the off-the-beaten-path gallery is a refreshing experience as the work is rotated often. And Ms. Davy and Mr. McKillop are always happy to welcome guests to relax in the comfortable seating area and talk about the diverse group of artists whom they represent.

For more information, call 508-693-8877 or visit