As the Island energy soared toward a crescendo of hectic activity and frantic vacationing last weekend, the Gallery in the Gardens reception at Vineyard Gardens in West Tisbury offered a delightful oasis of color and serenity. The mixture of flowering plants with displays of art and handcrafts was a perfect blend of visual delights. The late afternoon sunshine, lilting music, and cooling refreshments added to the enjoyable experience.
“This is a great event; it meshes together so beautifully, everything complements everything else!” said Betsy Gately, strolling and browsing with her friend Linda Carroll. “It’s old-timey Vineyard, rather than the slick and trendy Vineyard; that’s another great thing about it,” she added.
The two women, both from West Tisbury, said they had attended and enjoyed earlier Gallery in the Gardens events.
Artists and artisans set up their work at tables or easels and screens around the spacious nursery grounds. Several were circled around a central fountain that was bubbling merrily. They greeted browsers, answering questions and engaging in easy conversation.
Inside the main greenhouse, beneath lush hanging pots of cascading petunias, Laura Stone, nursery and
retail manager, greeted patrons and poured wine and punch. Ms. Stone, who organized the event, said she was delighted by the enthusiastic turnout, which she and others said was the biggest crowd ever. The number of artists was unusually large as well, with a total of 17 exhibitors on hand.
But unlike Circuit Avenue, Five Corners, or the lines at Stop and Shop, the large numbers here were hardly noticeable. The creative layout of Vineyard Gardens, with its meandering walking paths, water features, nooks, and separate plant and merchandise spaces, made for an uncongested atmosphere. Visitors could browse plants and artwork, or chat with friends at leisure, without feeling rushed or crowded. Traditional Old English dance music by the Bellamira ensemble added an airy country-gardens feel to the gathering.
Many present remarked on the pleasant, soothing ambiance, the loveliness of the venue, and the overall uniqueness of the event in this season of exuberant happenings.
Outside, beside a greenhouse bright with red and pink geraniums, a long table was constantly being replenished with attractive cheese platters and other savories.
The work on display ranged widely, including painting in various media to photographs, ceramics, jewelry, fiber art, and more. Many of the exhibitors show at other venues around the Island.
Margaret Emerson hung her atmospheric Island paintings before a greenhouse overflowing with herbs,
delighted with the location. A photographer presided over a table flanked by tall, flowering hibiscus.
Plein air painter Susan Johnson sat at an easel amid blooming plants, painting a pot of yellow flowers. Her canvases showed meadows, fields, and ponds. Michele Ortlip, describing herself as a fourth-generation artist carrying on a family tradition, exhibited lyrical watercolors of her favorite Vineyard places.
Well-known oil painter Enos Ray showed several canvases with his signature theme of jazz, New Orleans, and musical personalities. Nearby, Susan Shea displayed cards bearing delicate designs of origami folding paper. Beside her, Joan LeLecheur showed her wampum jewelry.
Across the pathway, amid flowering shrubs, Deborah Hale offered ceramic serving dishes and other pieces in a dramatic deep blue glaze, votive holders trimmed with sea glass, and even tasty samples of her sister-in-law Ralinda Lurie’s delicately savory cookies with her “Morsels” trade name.
Rachel Baumrin showed her pretty Austin Designs herbal eye pillows, totes, and smaller bags and wallets in intricate fabrics beside Susan Balaban’s hand-strung beaded jewelry. Piret Meisner created fanciful “fortune shellfish,” mussel and oyster shells with sayings tucked inside. There was pottery both practical and fun by Sherry Grunden, and wooden bowls by Jeremiah Brown, Vineyard Gardens’ lead foreman and landscape designer.
This marks the fourth summer for Gallery in the Garden, a series of August events created in 2012 by Christine Wiley, who with her husband Chuck founded and has operated Vineyard Gardens since 1982.
In a past interview with The Times, Ms. Wylie commented that the events provided a good way to market the business and at the same time support local artists. “It’s a nice thing to do in August, when it’s typically pretty slow. It helps us keep the nursery looking nice,” Ms. Wylie added.
Ms. Stone has been organizing the evenings, a challenging undertaking that entails booking the exhibitors, planning vendor space, refreshments, and music. But despite the many aspects, the event ran smoothly with a feeling of graceful harmony.
After a weekend off to accommodate fairgoers and fireworks fans, the nursery hosts its final Gallery in the Gardens of the season on Friday, August 28, 5 to 8 pm. Ms. Stone promised another colorful and compelling gathering of exhibitors, some familiar and new ones too. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to take a deep breath and luxuriate in some of the best the summer Vineyard has to offer.