Cousen Rose Gallery celebrates Vineyard centrism

"Sunrise Jumper 3" —Robin Gottesman

The Cousen Rose Gallery on upper Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs is currently hosting a Vineyard-centric show. Two semilocal female artists have captured the beauty of the Island in their own media and their distinct points of view. In each case, passion has fired the artist’s imagination.

Joyce Harvey, an avid sailor, creates lovely oil paintings on archival gesso panels. Cousen Rose is featuring two of the artist’s styles in a collection titled “Lighthouses, Marshes, and Sailboats.” The latter make up the bulk of the exhibit. There are a number of small paintings of boats at rest, sails down, colorful hulls casting their reflections on the calm water of bays and harbors.

Ms. Harvey favors a textural style, often using a palette knife to create raised ridges on the surface. She uses a high-gloss glaze that gives the paintings a real vibrancy and creates a marvelous natural effect as the raised portions catch and reflect the light. “They look different in all sorts of different light,” she said.

“Every since I was a child, I remember being drawn to paintings that make me want to touch them,” Ms. Harvey said. “I like to use a palette knife on board. I think painting on board gives you brighter, more intense saturated color.”

The artist has chosen the glaze that she uses for its visual impact as well as for its effect on the finished product. “With really thick textured painting, different colors dry differently,” Ms. Harvey explained. “The varnish in the glaze evens out all the colors.”

For her quiet marsh and lighthouse scenes, the artist takes an entirely different approach. The palette is pastel, the surface a matte finish. The effect is one of tranquility. Soft shades in skies with slits of color from a sunrise or sunset give a very soothing quality to the scenes of secluded coves with boats in the far distance.

Ms. Harvey has the advantage of a unique perspective of the Island. Since retiring from a 25-year career in television (she served for many years as anchor, reporter, and producer for CNN and the Weather Channel) she and her husband travel to the Vineyard from their home in Charleston, S.C., every summer on their 40-foot sailboat. They live on the boat, anchoring around the Island during their stay.

“I have thousands of points of reference on Martha’s Vineyard that I hope to paint,” Ms. Harvey said. “Everything inspires me, from the architecture to the seascapes to the people. The boating community here is very special. The friendly people within such a beautiful and artistic inspiring environment make the Vineyard really magical.”

Photographer Robin Gottesman also looks for the less than typical perspective in her work. For one of her striking shots, she kayaked to a midway reference point from a long-abandoned boardwalk to catch a picture-perfect sunset with the long curving dock and marsh grass in the foreground. Another shot spotlights the weathered pylons of a pier caught from the underside in an on-the-water viewpoint.

Ms. Gottesman is a former radiologist who became serious about photography after retiring from her first career in 2009. “When I was practicing medicine, I didn’t have the time,” she said. “I was just never able to really pursue photography.” However, she adds, “radiology is a very visual field; it was sort of a natural crossover.”

Ms. Gottesman has been coming to the Island for 32 years. Sixteen years ago she and her husband purchased a house in Sengekontacket. She spends her days here kayaking, biking, and playing tennis. During the off-season, she works as a photojournalist for local newspapers in her winter home in Bergen County, N.J. She specializes in shooting sports and children.

Ms. Gottesman’s active nature is in evidence in many of her shots, like the one of a dancer leaping from a boulder into the sea, silhouetted against a stunning sunrise. “I try to combine the scenic with movement,” she said.

Large glacial rocks and boulders also factor into many of Ms. Gottesman’s photos. One standout captures a long stone jetty where every crag, crevice, and water-filled indentation is clearly defined, with a classic Vineyard sunset in the background.

The work of either artist would make a perfect vacation memento or gift for a Vineyardphile friend. An added bonus to the current show is that both women’s work is very moderately priced. Ms. Gottesman’s photos sell for around $200 framed. Ms. Harvey’s work ranges from just over $200 to $600.
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