Michael Escoffery and Glenn Tunstull will show their work at Cousen Rose Gallery in Oak Bluffs, beginning this weekend, and running through August 8. Gallery owner Zita Cousens plans a reception for the artists from 6 to 8 pm on August 1. Local keyboard players Adele Dryer and Griffin McMahon will perform, and Tunstull’s and Escoffery’s work will be on view in the courtyard. Gallery owner Zita Cousens has always used the courtyard next to her gallery, but this year, because of the pandemic, she is employing it more, and finds she has been selling more work online.
Jamaican-born Escoffery is New York–based in the off-season, and paints in oil, and at three years with Cousen Rose, is relatively new to the gallery. Women have been the primary subject of his work. This year he’s looked at all that’s happening in the world and expressed it in subtle ways in his art. “I try to tell a story and comment on it and allow the viewer to interpret it in their eyes,” he said. “This year I think I’ve taken on a serious note,” he added. In the past his work was more playful. “They’re a bit more conscious and aware,” he said of his oils. In one painting, “The Looking Glass,” the artist pursued the idea of looking back at the reflection in the mirror, “and it’s different than what the viewer sees.”
He has used a lot of red this year. “Maybe it’s a subconscious reaction to all that’s around us,” he commented. In one painting, a woman with a red hat makes a bold statement. “She knows what she’s doing,” he explained. In “The 3 Graces,” the portraits of three sisters, their faces convey different color complexions. Especially in the case of people of color, the three reflect the shades of the entire world. “People need a break,” he added.
Tunstull has been exhibiting at Cousen Rose for 18 years. “I’m really thrilled to have my paintings in the gallery,” he said in an interview last week. He has also taught at Parsons School of Design in New York since 1994, as well as Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., for the past 10 years. This year was to be his year off. He decided then that he would have a reduced presence at the gallery. “Did I have second sight?” he asked in response to the pandemic. “They weren’t made explicitly for the show,’ he said. “They’re still of the Vineyard.” He works in oils and watercolor, and will have limited-edition prints on display.
“I’ve always been influenced by the Impressionists,” he said, and he’s also been inspired by Black life on the Vineyard. “Man at Beach” illustrates how he has used the pointillism of the Impressionists, and coined the term dashilism to express the broader strokes. In “Autumn Stroll,” the vibrant and colorful palette of the turning leaves makes them look like pinwheels. The Impressionist approach Tunstull uses is evident in “Afternoon Beach Time,” where black boats float on a multicolored sea above a rich orange sunset.
“Sometimes you just have an intuition,” he said. “Wow, I can’t believe how that came out,” he said of this year’s pandemic. He is sorry there aren’t going to be fireworks this year. “It’s quite the year,” he added.
The work of Michael Escoffery and Glenn Tunstull will be on view at Cousen Rose Gallery, 71 Circuit Ave., Oak Bluffs, from August 1 to 8. 617-939-3012, cousenrose.com.