Strolling the Oak Bluffs Arts District


Dukes County Ave. will be bustling this Saturday as the Oak Bluffs Arts District hosts the first of its summer Art Strolls. The street will be closed off to allow pedestrians to wander freely, and various artists and vendors will sell their wares outdoors. The band Missis Biskis will perform, while all of the district’s galleries will welcome visitors — variously offering refreshments, special deals, and the chance to view new exhibits.

This is the fourth year that the Arts District has hosted the festive events. The series will continue with two more strolls in August and September. Holly Alaimo of the Galaxy Gallery says, “This is a great way for us as a group to raise awareness of an area that has become a thriving arts district, as well as to add some fun, family-friendly events to the Oak Bluffs summer season.”

The Galaxy Gallery will host a special exhibit of work by members of Our Crit Group — a handful of women artists who have been meeting regularly for the past 20 years to critique each other’s work and discuss technique. Members include Elizabeth Lockhart Taft, Hermine Hull, Ruth Kirchmeier, Lyn Hinds, Wendy Weldon, Claire Chalfoun, and Leslie Baker, who was not able to participate in the show.

The group was formed by Taft, who says, “We would help each other with our work, offering feedback and suggestions. It has just been a wonderful journey. Our monthly crits and conversations have formed the basis for friendships that have nourished and sustained us, along with the art that brought us together.”

Each of the members has her own distinctive style. Taft is known for her impressionist landscapes. Hull, who ran Hermine Merel Smith Fine Art until 2019, and writes about art for The MV Times and Arts & Ideas, as well as the West Tisbury column, finds inspiration in the people, pets, interiors, and landscapes of her daily life. Weldon is known for her colorful abstract and semiabstract paintings. Her work is also currently featured at the Center of Knowhere on Circuit Ave. Hinds focuses on both quiet still lifes and interiors, and landscapes, drawing interest from the contrast of bold lines and more indistinct elements. Chalfoun creates mood with quick brushstrokes and a softening of lines. Kirchmeier has earned a well-deserved reputation for her wonderful, detailed woodblock prints, which she shows at both the Galaxy Gallery and at Sargent Gallery in Aquinnah.

Over at the Knowhere Gallery, owner Val Francis will be introducing a new group of artists in an exhibit titled “Figuratively Seen.” The show features seven artists who have chosen a variety of media and styles to portray imagined living and ancestral people — honoring the communities they represent. Concurrently, the Center of Knowhere on Circuit Ave. will be hosting a show titled “Embodied: Black Women of Print.” Both shows will hang through August 1.

The Alison Shaw Gallery, Periwinkle Studios, and Michael Blanchard’s Crossroads Gallery will all be open and participating in the stroll activities, as will Lucinda Sheldon’s studio around the corner from Dukes County Ave. on Vineyard Avenue.

Artists who will be selling independently of the galleries include Debrah Yapp (stone-embellished mirrors and coat hooks), Linda Ferinni (floorcloths), Rene Balter (monoprints, as well as original work) and Cindy Kane, who will be offering some of her smaller paintings. Boutique candies from Vineyard Confections will be for sale, and other vendors may also be setting up along the street.

Missis Biskis will play in the Galaxy Gallery courtyard, while Alaimo hopes to include other performers in the festivities. All in all, the strolls are always a fun, free way to spend an afternoon.

Mark your calendar now. Two more strolls are scheduled for August 7 and Sept. 8. Art Stroll is Saturday, July 10, from 4 to 7 pm. “Our Crit Group” show will hang at the Galaxy Gallery through July 14.