Picture-perfect

It was a very good year for creativity and expression.

The Vineyard has been a mecca for artists for decades. Some relocate here; some translate time spent on the Island into wonderful images. Others come here to share their visions of the world at large with visitors. Among the many local galleries, one could find artwork of all varieties. Here are some highlights from the past year.

On Memorial Day weekend, the Eisenhauer Gallery in Edgartown kicked off its summer season with a show spotlighting two artists new to the gallery. Boston-based Anne Harney joined the gallery’s always evolving roster of artists just this year. Her evocative, semiabstract paintings of the Island were inspired by memories and photographs of childhood summers spent on the Vineyard in the 1960s.

A former cartographer, Chase Langford creates unique paintings that abstract the elements of a variety of natural formations to isolate color and form and turn them into very attractive design-influenced images that clearly have an organic point of reference.

In June the Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club hosted its annual Blooming Art Show, pairing work by local artists with botanical arrangements by Garden Club members. This year 36 artists and a corresponding number of arrangers took part, filling the rustic Old Mill building in West Tisbury with vivid color as well as living beauty. The annual exhibit is a unique Island art show, and features perhaps the most local artists to be found in one space at one time.

Local artist and gallerist Kara Taylor started off her summer season with a show featuring new Vineyard landscapes done in her signature moody, mystical style, as well as some of her fantasy-based multimedia pieces. For the past three winters Taylor has been living and working in South Africa, where she also shows her work. This past summer, she also showed some of the results from her African visits — works that combine myth, legend, and history with commentary on race, division, and unity with beauty and a marvelous sense of enlightenment.

In early July, the Granary Gallery in West Tisbury unveiled a new series of paintings by Cindy Kane, well known for her animal- and nature-based work. Her latest work features depictions of a recent obsession for Kane, whales. The stunning large-scale paintings are close-up images featuring lots of texture. In her artist’s statement, Kane writes, “I decided to approach the subject from the perspective of their dark, speckled gray skin, whose varying texture, deep tones, wounds, and shadowy white scars present a visual narrative of their lives.”

Throughout the month of July, Louisa Gould introduced visitors to the work of ceramicist Curtis Hoard, the newest addition to her gallery. Hoard, a well-known figure in the ceramics world, creates very interesting sculptural and utilitarian pieces through sculpting, as opposed to wheel throwing. The result: unique pieces that truly reflect the creative, sometimes playful, mind of an artist focused on the creative over the decorative. Hoard, who was previously represented on the Island by the Shaw Cramer Gallery, has exhibited his work all over the world.

Lily Morris and Jennifer Joanou were the featured artists in a show at A Gallery in July. Morris is well known for her photorealist work featuring images with a cinematic, allegorical feel. This past summer she unveiled work from her latest series, called “POV.” Jennifer Joanou is another artist whose work is wholly original. For decades Joanou has explored her inner world through a series of visual journals. The show at A Gallery featured a number of prints based on journal pages, as well as an oversize leather-bound journal — the first of her dozens of journals that the artist has ever offered for sale.

The Sargent Gallery in Aquinnah is known for its focus on environmental art. In 2018, the gallery offered pieces by a number of local and national artists whose work either comments on or honors the environment. In July a show titled “Elementality” featured the work of four artists, including Vineyard resident Ruth Kirchmeier. Kirchmeier’s woodcut prints perfectly capture water and other nature scenes in a unique way, employing multiple layers of color to eye-catching effect.

For the second year in a row, the Eisenhauer Gallery hosted a solo show featuring the work of landscape painter Larry Horowitz. Horowitz’s mission for the majority of his career has been to “capture the vanishing American landscape.” His work has been shown all over the world, and has been featured in various publications, including the New York Times. Employing an almost abstract approach to his representational paintings, the artist has recently created a body of work capturing the beauty of Martha’s Vineyard in plein air oil paintings.

In August the Granary Gallery was the scene of two very exciting events. At the beginning of the month, the West Tisbury gallery hosted the traveling show of the work of street photographer Vivian Maier, whose astonishing body of work, encompassing a lifetime of shooting as an amateur, was only discovered after her death in 2009. Since then Maier has become the subject of books and documentary films, and her work has been shown all over the globe.

The same exhibition at the Granary Gallery featured the work of world-renowned painter Wolf Kahn, whose paintings have been exhibited at the Metropolitan, the Whitney, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and other prestigious institutions.

A much-anticipated event this past summer was the unveiling of the Granary’s latest acquisition, a painting by Thomas Hart Benton titled “Going West.” The work, considered to be one of the famed artist and muralist’s finest paintings, has only been exhibited to the public twice before — once in 1927, and again in 1982, when it went on sale at a Christie’s auction and was purchased by Bill Cosby. The painting, part of an exhibit of a number of works by Benton, created quite a stir on the Island.

On a sad note, the Island lost one of its most acclaimed artists this year, when photographer Peter Simon passed away in November. Simon forged a highly successful career as a rock photographer throughout the ’60s and ’70s before settling on the Island and establishing a gallery on Main Street, Vineyard Haven. Simon’s work focusing on the beauty of the Island, and his perennially popular Martha’s Vineyard calendars, earned him a devoted following here.