Two well-known Vineyard artists have joined forces to establish their own up-Island gallery. In March, Abe Pieciak and Brandon Newton opened the doors to the Chilmark Gallery, which now features the art of the two partners as well as the work of a number of local artisans.
“I’d been looking for a while to have my own space to connect with people,” Newton said, who previously showed his work at the North Water Gallery in Edgartown. “I wanted to have more of a presence, and meet the people who were buying my work.”
Lucky for Newton, Pieciak was also looking for his own space, and had been thinking of Newton as a possible partner. Fate brought the two together when Pieciak, driving through Menemsha, spotted Newton painting onsite and called him over. The two men admired each other’s work, and a bond was quickly forged. “I spent some time in his studio in Aquinnah,” Newton recalled. “We worked on a couple of pieces together. When he told me he was opening a gallery this summer, it was perfect. This is something I’ve been wanting to do. It’s such a big leap for me.”
Although they both create Vineyard-centric work, the two artists’ styles are completely different, yet complement each other well. Newton’s Vineyard scenes feature an expressionistic style using broad strokes, a combination of vague lines and distinctive outlines, and an affinity for contrasts in light. Many of his images are set at night or on rainy days, with artificial light from various sources offering a comforting welcome from the darkness.
Pieciak works in both mixed media and watercolor and ink. He likes to build up an image through multiple smaller images. For example, he creates wonderful colored pictures of fish made up from tiny individual drawings of fishing lures. Similarly, the artist has created images of boats, birds, and an outline of the Island made up of various tiny drawings appropriate to the subject.
Colorful, three-dimensional collage works by Pieciak are built up like mosaic from driftwood and other types of reclaimed wood, found objects, netting, and more. Pieciak has also constructed large-scale pieces from beach debris and other unexpected materials.
The small gallery — formerly the home of the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, and next to the Chilmark Tavern — is bright and inviting. Furniture by Brad Tucker and Liz Ragone is prominently displayed around the space. One eye-catching piece — a live-edge coffee table inlaid with wampum — is representative of Tucker and Ragone’s style, combining the beauty of wood with other natural elements encased in resin.
Other featured artisans are Wil Sideman and Russell Carson’s handcrafted glass, Gary Demers’ hand-carved fish and signs, and products by woodworker Zach Pinerio.
In keeping with Pieciak’s fishing theme, the gallery also carries the Strategic Angler line of beautiful custom-made lures.
Pieciak and Newton have formed a reciprocal relationship, supporting each other with their new venture as well as the artisans they are representing in the gallery. “I believe in something much larger than myself,” Newton said. “If you tune into it, you’ll be exposed to much more. You put your energy and time into a certain idea or space, and it will show itself. I really wanted to have the pieces of the puzzle shown to me. Now I’m calling Abe part of my family.”
The Chilmark Gallery will be open weekends for now, and seven days a week during the summer months. It is located at 9 State Rd. in Chilmark.