All good things at the ‘Summer’s End’ exhibition

Perhaps you’re celebrating the relative peace that has descended upon the Island now that we have made it past Labor Day. Traffic is back to normal, visitors don’t crowd the beaches from dune to shoreline, and the number of events on the calendar has shifted down to a manageable level of commitment. This last is the best news yet for the community — the artists and art lovers and explorers — because we have time to devote to the special fall offerings across the Island.

Featherstone is celebrating the transition into relative quietude with an alluring art show that has something for everyone. They invited all Island artists to submit up to three works for exhibition along the theme, appropriately, of summer’s end. Kate Hancock, Featherstone’s retired gallery manager, co-curated the exhibition with executive director Ann Smith, who says, “Featherstone is all about the community, and as we were looking back over the past 22 years of themes, we’ve never done a summer’s end show, which would be appropriate to kick off the season.”

Artists were to interpret the theme in a poem Hancock included in the call for artists’ announcement:

Summer’s End

Remember the cold gray days of winter
You thought would never end?
And you warmed yourself with a lovely dream of summer —
A cherished friend.
Now summer starts to slow her pace.
The baton is passed,
Autumn joins the race.
What dream can now take summer’s place?
Ah yes — perhaps a parking space!

Smith gave me a tour around the exhibition in the wide-open and sun-drenched Francine Kelly Gallery, telling me about virtually each work of art. Works flank either side of the narrow entryway into the larger space, including Martha Mae Jones’ original assemblages of slim, horizontal rows of autumnal and ocean-colored spliced patterned textiles that produce a visible layering effect that are essentially and simultaneously two-dimensional works. 

Turn right into the main space, and a splendid bounty of colorful flowers, followed by pieces of stormy skies and direct references to upcoming winter, greet visitors.

Before continuing down the wall, we walked over to the middle display, one side of which held three photographs with a lone figure on the beach shot from a distance — but, as Smith pointed out, all taken by different artists. The other side of the central wall included mixed-media works, with Judith Pfeiffer’s rambunctious dog midflight, catching a red ball in the air, followed by the next piece, in which the flying canine has literally run partially out of the picture frame, leaving just its streaking back end for us to see.

 

Returning to the righthand wall, the pieces featured mostly sweeping views, many of up-Island gorgeous sunsets and rocky fields, as well as an impressively large oil painting by Dan Sibley. The aptly titled “Flow (Go with the Flow)” is an enigmatic close-up of various-size stones and residual puddles covering the watery ground of large expanses of straight-edged, cool-colored geometric shapes. 

“It’s really a different technique than what he’s done in the past,” Smith says. “His theme is always rocks, but they’re much more tactile here. Almost gritty materials on top. He has an almost pastel quality that he picks up, and different shadows.” 

In the righthand corner we came upon John Holladay’s sizable acrylic painting of dozens of lobster traps piled on top of each other. The reddish-pink containers’ tall curved shapes stand in contrast to the intricate web of tier upon tier of square and rectangle traps, outlined solely in black, white, and gray lines. He happened to be standing nearby, and offered, “My favorite place on the Island to paint is Menemsha, and you can go out there every week and it’s different. I love painting the complexity of the lobster traps. I like the depth of it, to go into it. It’s not easy, but to me it’s a challenge and it’s fun.”

Along the long left wall there is a row of colorful abstract works, some evocative of nature and others purely nonrepresentational. Then there are works on paper that include figurative as well as purely abstract compositions, that leave their association to the end of summer up to the viewer.

There is also a table that includes Kate Greer’s luscious scarves and handmade paper books, fabricated using local plants such as huckleberries, juniper, onion skins, blueberries, and sumac. They beg to be touched.

Finally, out in the atrium, hanging over the desk, is Liz Taft’s “Late Fall, Long Point.” The 17- by 66-inch oil on linen hangs above the reception desk and visually leads us into autumn, with its warm fall colors describing the expansive view of gently rolling hills, distant water, and broad stretch of light-turquoise horizon.

There is so much to see among the 101 pieces by 59 artists that a second and third turn through the show reveals gems you might have missed the first time. It’s well worth the stroll to reminisce about the summer we’ve just left behind, and to think about the winter soon to come.

 

“Summer’s End” will be on view until Oct. 13 at Featherstone Center for the Arts, 30 Featherstone Lane (off Barnes Road), 12 to 4 pm daily.