Year in Review: Art and Galleries

The Dr. Daniel Fisher House in Edgartown featured multicultural artists and educational panelists from the Agora Culture platform in August. — Sam Moore

With over 40 galleries and other exhibit spaces, the Vineyard is a veritable art lover’s haven. Every weekend during the summer, there are at least half a dozen gallery openings. It’s a busy season, and one that defines the variety of art and artists we have here on the Island. Here are a few highlights from the 2016 summer season.

Adding to the vibrant mix of Island art galleries, a few new spaces opened their doors this past summer (all are now closed for the season). The Behnke-Doherty Gallery on Main Street, Vineyard Haven, is a transplant of sorts, featuring the work of many of the artists whom the owners, David Behnke and Paul Doherty, represented for many years at their gallery of the same name in Connecticut. The gallery features contemporary American fine art as well as both traditional and contemporary work from Asian artists.

Island Life Studio on the Oak Bluffs Harbor focuses on marine art, with paintings of fish by Alejandro Carreño and drawings and collages by Abe Pieciak enlivening the walls, along with work by a smattering of other artists.

In June, artist Valentine Estabrook opened up her studio in West Tisbury to the public. The Gallery Gallery, as she has named her space, features Ms. Estabrook’s work in various media.

A couple of the Vineyard’s preeminent artists were the focus of shows this year. Painter Rez Williams was the featured artist at the West Tisbury library in June, and was also among the artists spotlighted at A Gallery in August. That group show also included new work by internationally recognized pastel artist Irving Petlin, and a former Ansel Adams protégé, photographer Mariana Cook.

In June, the Grange Hall in West Tisbury was the scene of an art show, party, and fundraiser featuring the work of artist Doug Kent.

That same month, Featherstone hosted a retrospective of the late Island artist Stan Murphy, curated by Nancy Kingsley.

In August, the Granary Gallery hung a remarkable selection of the work of the famed photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, who spent a great deal of time on the Vineyard.

One of the more provocative exhibits of the season was found, not surprisingly, at Gallery Josephine. The Oak Bluffs–based gallery, named for entertainer and activist Josephine Baker, was founded in 2015 with the initiative of presenting art with a conscience. The gallery kicked off its summer season with a series of paintings titled “The Circle of Mothers Project,” featuring portraits of the mothers of young black men who were killed by police officers.

Edgartown’s Christina Gallery celebrated its 20th anniversary with a showcase of two of the artists who have been represented by the gallery since its beginning: maritime art master William R. Davis and contemporary realist Lloyd Kelly. The summer exhibition also honored longtime gallery favorite Marjorie Mason.

During the month of August, Kara Taylor presented her latest body of work, “Forty Flowers,” a series of tall, narrow, mixed-media floral paintings in honor of the artist’s 40th birthday. The identically scaled yet widely varied paintings occupied an entire room of the rustic West Tisbury gallery, creating an enchanting mystical virtual greenhouse. Almost the entire series sold out, but it’s worth checking out the remaining pieces on Ms. Taylor’s website.

In August, a newly formed group, the African American Vineyard Artists, held their first group show at the P.A. Club. The five members include painters Bettie Eubanks and Myrna Morris, photographer Michael Johnson, collagist JoAnn Bates, and scratchboard artist Harry Seymour. The one-day-only exhibit was a packed-to-the-rafters affair.

Fiber artist Julia Mitchell had a busy summer. In late July and early August, she and her sister, artist Lucy Mitchell, were featured in a two-woman show at A Gallery, followed immediately by a group tapestry show at Featherstone curated by, and including the work of, Julia.

In August, a multicultural arts platform called Agora Culture hosted a one-day art exhibition featuring the work of 25 contemporary artists, as well as educational panels with art collectors and a cocktail party atmosphere. Art on the Vine, held at the Daniel Fisher House in Edgartown, was a popular event that will most likely become an annual one.

The Louisa Gould Gallery in Vineyard Haven bookended its summer season with shows representing the two poles of art. In June, Ms. Gould hosted her first ever “Vineyard Realism” show, featuring work by, among others, renowned marine life artist Flick Ford. The last show of the summer season, “Personal Visions,” was the gallery’s ninth annual group abstract show. The Louisa Gould Gallery is open all winter, by chance or by appointment. So are many other Island galleries — make sure to stop by and see what they are creating.