‘Vineyard Realism’ spotlighted at Louisa Gould Gallery

"Flag Day" by Carol Rowan, 36 inches x 48 inches, acrylic on canvas. — Carol Rowan

Fans of fish, flowers, and farms will enjoy a stroll through the Louisa Gould Gallery this weekend. The photographer and gallery owner’s latest exhibit features a theme that is unique to Island galleries. “Vineyard Realism” will introduce the work of a few new artists to the gallery, along with a couple of popular staples Ms. Gould has represented for years.

The common thread is that each artist captures their subjects — nature and rustic scenery — in a detailed and lifelike style. The show highlights many of the charms of the Vineyard, including locally grown flowers, barns and barnyard scenes, and, of course, fishing.

The latter is represented by one of the newest artists to be introduced to the Louisa Gould Gallery, acclaimed marine life artist Flick Ford. “He’s really well known in this genre,” Ms. Gould said. “I’ve known of his work for a really long time. I’m excited about bringing his work to the Vineyard. He’s shown on Nantucket, but this is the first time he’s shown on the Island.”

Mr. Ford, along with the show’s other artists, will be at the opening, and he will also give a talk on Saturday, July 2, discussing and signing his three books of fish paintings.

The artist and former musician has been an avid fisherman since the 1960s. After 15 years of living in New York City, pursuing careers in music, underground publishing, and indie film, Mr. Ford left the city and, according to his bio, “became obsessed with fishing all over again.”

“The effects of over 20 years of pollution and overdevelopment became painfully apparent,” Mr. Ford wrote. “I felt I should start to keep a record of the fish I caught. I wanted to catch and paint these fish, and show how they appear to me in all their iridescent beauty. Three books later, and I’m all about advocacy for all the world’s fisheries, freshwater and saltwater.”

Mr. Ford’s love of angling and the natural world led him to specialize in fine art paintings of fish. His documentation of marine life harks back to the naturalist painters of earlier eras. Like James Audubon, Mr. Ford’s passion for his chosen subject has inspired him to create artwork that is both scientifically accurate and visually appealing.

The other recent addition to the gallery, Peggy Turner Zablotny, is hardly new to the Vineyard art world. She had been showing her colorful botanical prints here for decades. Ms. Turner Zablotny has a unique way of mining the bounty of her garden to create stunning collage prints that use flowers as a medium. She creates inspired arrangements of freshly dried flowers, photographs them, blows the images up and prints them on high-quality watercolor paper.

For those who are interested in her labor-intensive process, the artist will also be giving a talk at the gallery on Tuesday, July 12 . She will bring along her flower plates and a powerful magnifying glass, so people can get an up-close look at the meticulous work that goes into each creation.

“I’ve always loved her work,” Ms. Gould said of Ms. Turner Zablotny. “It’s just so different. It’s artful and it’s of the Island. The colors are really rich and saturated, and knowing that all of these flowers came from her garden makes it even more special.”

Another artist in the show exhibits her love for the Island in her own way. Carol Rowan has created a few new works specifically for the current show. Her realistic paintings of barns, old trucks, rustic farm equipment, and barnyard animals honor the Vineyard’s agricultural roots.

Oil painter Linda Besse has a true Vineyard pedigree, coming from an established Island family. Her familiarity with the Island’s maritime world (her grandfather, Arthur Besse Sr., helped start the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club) informs much of her work. Ms. Besse’s closeups of buoys, ships’ rigging, and a weathered rowboat will appeal to seafaring types, while her nature studies are often accompanied by titles as charming as the paintings themselves (i.e. “One Good Tern Deserves Another”).

The show also spotlights the fine-art ceramic work of Suzanne Hill, whose beautiful pieces often feature such Island elements as driftwood handles and beach stone embellishments, as well as interesting oxidizing processes that create remarkable colors and patterns.

This is the first time that Ms. Gould has chosen realism as a theme. “There’s a certain timelessness about the Vineyard that I think this show represents,” she said.

Artist talks have always been a feature of the Louisa Gould Gallery summer schedule. The current show will include presentations by three different artists. As Ms. Gould said, “The talks provide an intimate setting for those who want to learn more about the artist and their process.”

“Vineyard Realism” opening reception: Saturday, July 2, from 5 to 7 pm, with live music by Michael Haydn. Show runs through July 27. Book signing, Saturday, July 2, with Flick Ford at 10 am. Artist talk with Linda Besse, Wednesday, July 6, at 6 pm. Artist talk with Peggy Turner Zablotny, Tuesday, July 12, at 6 pm. For more information, visit louisagouldgallery.com.