The Night Heron Gallery in Vineyard Haven feels like a mix between a boutique packed with unique gifts and a mini Artisans’ Festival. Both comparisons are very apt. Whether vacationer or full-time Islander, you’ll find this a treasure trove to seek that perfect present. The similarity to the popular Vineyard Artisans Festivals is no surprise, since many represented here have long shown their wares at that larger event.
Established in 2011, Night Heron is a collaborative endeavor among 10 very diverse artists and artisans. It is the Vineyard’s only artist owned and operated cooperative gallery, featuring jewelry, paintings, wearable art, ceramics, gift books, and much more.
According to Lisa Strachan, one of the original founders, this artists’ cooperative is far from being just a business venture. Along with owning, taking care of all business aspects, and operating the shop on a rotating schedule, members work well together, encouraging and supporting one another in their creative ventures, she said. They are good friends and congenial too, as was evident at the opening party on June 27. The small shop was packed with family, friends, art lovers, and vacationers drawn by the colorful displays and effervescent ambiance.
“Even our food is cooperative,” quipped one member, gesturing to the buffet of varied and mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres, each contributed by a different artist.
From first stepping in the door, the visitor is surrounded by colorful variety, indeed as tempting as that snack smorgasbord.
Ingrid Goff-Maidoff’s sweetly inspirational gift books, cards, journals, CDs, and other meditative keepsakes are antidotes for summer hustle-bustle. She collects poetry, affirmations, and snippets of wisdom in pretty bindings and wrappers. “Good Mother Welcome” is a soothing gift for that tired new mom; other books hold lovely reminders of life’s wonders for all.
Another style of thoughtful serenity is found in seascape paintings by Carolyn Warren — boats, ocean, beaches, grassy dunes in soothing coastal colors. Along with standard sized compositions, she displays a selection of miniatures, tiny Vineyard seaside scenes, charming and affordable.
Or choose an evocative photo by L.A. Brown with distressed white frame for special atmosphere. This inspired photographer shows scenes on the Vineyard and abroad of animals, barnyards, fields, and architectural details, all of which have a timeless, peaceful feeling. She sets them in frames she creates with molding from 18th and 19th century homes.
“I watch the light and capture what touches my heart,” she said.
There is wearable Vineyard glamour to be found, a just-right gift for a daughter, mother, sister, best girl friend. Some shoppers are so captivated that they treat themselves. And what better way to remember a vacation or reward yourself for getting through a hectic work week?
There is a large selection of Sylvie Farrington’s signature vintage Sylvie Bags and throw pillows too. Ms. Farrington constantly refines technique and designs, coming up with new features to make these bags even more irresistible. They appear in several styles and sizes, many adorned with bright zippers, Austrian crystal beads, and decorative buttons to accent the lush floral fabrics.
For pure glitter, visit the two jewelry makers, Diana Stewart and Kathleen Tackabury. Both work with silver and gemstones, combining them with dramatic results, though each creates with personal style. Small silver pieces are on display too, including earrings in delicate seashore shapes, molded from the real thing — perfect summer jewelry.
Far from being bitter competitors, the women report they are good friends and support one another’s work. They frequently show next to each other at fairs and shows, as they do here. Ms. Tackabury features an Island-inspired piece in her new horseshoe crab pendant, an exquisite little silver sea creature on a silver chain. A browser at the opening purchased one immediately upon trying it on.
“If I like it, why not?” she said, leaving the shop a happy vacationer.
All of Beldan Radcliffe’s creations are stylish and one of a kind. This season she is particularly enthusiastic about “upcycled” sweaters using all recycled materials. These eye-catching garments are multi-colored, multi-textured, multi-layered, boasting a variety of buttons, ruffles, and trims. She also shows scarves and other work, from lampshades to jewelry. This inventive Vineyard artisan employs her collage-maker’s touch in all her work, combining colors and patterns with flair.
Ceramic art is displayed here in three fascinating styles. Lisa Strachan shows the delicate white porcelain pieces such as vases, trays, and mirror frames for which she is well known. Now she offers an intriguing alternative, stoneware creations with the color and texture of Vineyard beach sand, and even occasionally combines this with a partial blue glaze, suggesting the ocean. On some stoneware she adds seashore embellishments — a shell, a tiny crab, sandpipers.
Ms. Strachan also benefits Hospice with the sale of heart-themed Island-shaped porcelain pieces — a Christmas tree ornament or sweet Vineyard souvenir.
Who wouldn’t recognize the imaginative Washington Ledesma’s heartwarming ceramics? His soulful, big-eyed animals, fish, birds, and reptiles with innocent, unwavering gazes and robust three-breasted goddesses bring a smile. This Uruguayan-born artist’s warm, intense colors are uplifting too. He shows trays, happy little animal statues, and Healing Stones, another cure for summer stress. Medium sized bowls in sunshiny colors will perk up your morning cereal.
Nicholas Thayer contributes majolica pottery inspired by Italian designs. The serving ware and smaller pieces boast crisp, vibrant colors and symmetrical motifs employing lemons, leaves, fish, flowers, even a friendly cow. He aims to use traditional Island borders “and flavor with a bit of the Island.”
Printmaking is another of Mr. Thayer’s loves. His striking monotypes show dark crows with distinctive personality. They are slightly brooding, thoughtful, gathered as though gossiping. Some are playful, some menacing: one swoops, one preens, another catches a dragonfly.
Prices vary widely and much of this art is affordable. Or just browse and appreciate the creative gifts of these talented Islanders.
Night Heron Gallery, Vineyard Haven: open daily, 10 am to 6 pm. For information, visit nightherongallery.com or call 508-696-9500.