Night Heron Gallery celebrates five years of cooperative art

Books and unique handmade gifts by Ingrid Goff-Maidoff. — Photo by L.A. Brown

Vineyard Haven’s Night Heron Gallery will celebrate its fifth anniversary with an artists’ reception on Saturday, June 27, from 5 to 7 pm. The nine artists, who run the Main Street gallery collectively, will all be on hand with new work and old favorites.

One of the unusual aspects of the gallery is that its artists share many connections and friendships. “When I was asked to join, I already knew seven of the nine original members,” said photographer L.A. (Lisa) Brown in a telephone interview with The Times last week. “We champion one another’s work. When a customer walks in, I might not say anything about my work. It’s the real way to go.”

“We were both the red-headed granddaughters,” explained potter Lisa Strachan, one of the founding artists, in an interview last week. She was referring to Ms. Brown, whose grandfather, Philip Brown, lived next door to Ms. Strachan’s grandfather, Seth Thomas, in Waterview Farm, and was best friends with him. The two artists both exhibited for many years at the Vineyard Artisans Festival, held at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury. Ms. Strachan makes porcelainware, which she says people often describe as delicate. In fact, porcelain exhibits a greater compression strength than steel, according to Ms. Strachan. Ms. Brown calls her photos “instinctive.” “In any given moment I choose a specific technique, focus, or perspective,” she says. She then creates images using either a film or digital camera.

Ms. Brown’s Artisan Festival booth was for many years located next to printmaker and collage artist Beldan K. Radcliffe, another member of the Night Heron Gallery cooperative. Ms. Radcliffe also makes wearable art. Ms. Brown also played tennis for many years with Night Heron jewelry maker Diana Stewart. Other members of the gallery include landscape painter Carolyn Warren; fabric artist Sylvie Farrington, who specializes in handbags; and jeweler Kathleen Tackabury. Artist Ingrid Goff-Maidoff creates one-of-a-kind books and paper gifts, and Uruguayan-born artist Washington Ledesma exhibits his pottery, carving, and oil painting.

The work of the late Nicholas Thayer, who passed away in April, will be represented by only one of his monotypes, but his memory will be very much alive at the gallery. Ms. Brown, who rented space from Mr. Thayer, says this artist was good friends with Mr. Ledesma, and Ms. Radcliffe used Mr. Thayer’s garage for printmaking. “We have all these heartfelt connections,” Ms. Brown said. He was a very special part of the gallery, according to Ms. Strachan, and she says, “His wife Nina is part of the group. We have a bond that is unbreakable.”

The Night Heron Gallery began as a pop-up shop during the Christmas season five years ago, when there were a lot of empty storefronts on Main Street. “It was a little scary,” said Ms. Strachan, “and it’s a big responsibility. We’ve been very lucky.” She added that Night Heron’s artists have watched Main Street change. “It’s very exciting,” she says. “The arts have really pulled together with the designation of the Vineyard Haven Arts District. The gallery has often coordinated its openings with other Vineyard Haven events. We’re happy to be downtown. The Artisans Festival is wonderful, but it’s good to be a year-round presence.” The gallery does close during January, February, and March.

One of the gallery’s artists is always present when the gallery is open. “We feel like family,” Ms. Strachan says. “It’s much deeper going into a gallery where there are those connections.” Everything in the gallery is made by hand on the Island.

Artists’ reception, Night Heron Gallery. 58 Main Street, Vineyard Haven, Saturday, June 27, 5 to 7 pm. For more information, see