The Field Gallery opens the season with a trio of popular artists

Wine, beer, and art waited in the back courtyard. —Sam Moore

The Field Gallery opened its first show of the season on Sunday, kicking off its summer with sunny weather and fine libations in the heart of West Tisbury. The artists at the center of the exhibition were Kenneth Pillsworth, Jessica Pisano, and Jhenn Watts.

“Kenny and I have been the first show at the Field Gallery for the past 12 years,” Ms. Watts, who is also the gallery director, said. “Jessica Pisano usually shows much later in the summer, but we moved her forward because she’s so popular. I wanted to have as much of her work available as early as possible.”

Ms. Pisano, who grew up on-Island, was offered her first show at the Field Gallery by Eileen Maley in 1999, straight out of art school. In those early shows, she displayed photography colored by hand. Her work has since evolved into oil paintings. “I like that these pieces feel like they come from actual photographs,” Ms. Watts said. “They feel very real; she does this great juxtaposition of abstracting the landscape. At the same time, she sort of shows you that she can paint.”

Ms. Pisano’s paintings have an almost clairvoyant quality about them. Foregrounds are devoted to subjects such as birds and trees, but behind the detail of this brushwork are gentle background abstractions. Some, such as “Migration,” utilize a drip painting technique, featuring four hued birds against a gauzy backdrop. Smaller works show the artist’s skill at creating singular perspectives out of limited painting area.

Ms. Watts works in photography. In this latest exhibit, she uses transparency film and pigment prints to feature her isolated landscapes and picturesque ideals of the Island. All of the photography is local. Ms. Watts admits her use of transparency film is unconventional. “What I am doing is certainly not what the film is intended for,” she said. “The film is extremely sensitive to exposure, but it is very precise. This makes exposing the film tricky and time-consuming, but I like the challenges that poses. This forces me to be out shooting to constantly produce new work.” The fruits of Ms. Watts’ labors are brilliant colors and a smart representation of Martha’s Vineyard’s natural beauty devoid of people.

The third artist showcased, Kenneth Pillsworth, also happens to be Ms. Watts’ husband. Mr. Pillsworth started the Edgartown Jewelers Studio in 1996 with three other jewelers, and later created his own studio. “Kenneth works with a predominantly sterling silver base and very unusual gemstones,” Ms. Watts said. “He’s found a new stone, Fordite, which is actually auto paint that is collected like a big stone.” The unique pieces are both intriguing and finely wrought.

All in all, Sunday’s well-attended opening enlivened the West Tisbury art scene. For those who missed it, or simply want to take a second look, the work will be on display through July 9.

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