“Fashion, Flowers, Fruit & Fantasy” is an apt title for Oak Bluffs artist Lane Gregory’s work on display at the Vineyard Playhouse Art Space. She is exhibiting in all four of those themes at the Playhouse through Saturday, August 21.
She studied fashion design and illustration as well as interior design at the Traphagen School in New York, then worked commercially in illustration. The school was very old and family-owned; it wasn’t accredited at the time, but is now. After getting sick during her second year, she returned to Rhode Island to recuperate, and never went back to school. “During my freelance period I had wonderful years,” Gregory said in an interview last week. She started in Rhode Island with clip art (illustrations) at the Old Outlet Co. and Marshalls. She worked there as an illustrator for Cherry and Webb department stores before moving to Boston.
There’s a logic and history behind the variety of her work. She began as a fashion illustrator and worked in that capacity at Jordan Marsh in Boston for four years, continuing on a freelance basis for a total of 30 years between the two. One thing led to another. Two of her works at the Playhouse provide examples. “Accessories” is a pen-and-ink illustration of two stylish women, and “Pink” is a color pencil of another two. Both demonstrate the skill she has in that field.
“Christmas Gnomes” is a lively pen and ink, and “At the Rink” is a charming depiction of a pig on wobbly ice skates. Gregory did covers for Simplicity pattern books, and clip art for Reebok apparel. “I love it more and more all the time,” she says. “I never get tired of it.” But she loves finding new chapters in her life.
Gregory moved to the Island in 1997, and like many artists, has enjoyed the light here. In addition to art, she has supplemented her income by joining the Island workforce. This means working as general manager at the Tuscany Inn and in managerial positions at the Thorncroft Inn and the Edgartown Yacht Club. She also worked at The MV Times.
In the past five years, she has been teaching herself oil painting. One example is “Aboard the Mari Gale Barbara,” a more complex composition that stems from her Rhode Island fisherman father. Saying she had to start small, many of her other works are still life close-ups of flowers or fruit. An impressive one is a close-up of a red geranium. Others are of fruits, including close-ups of a peach, a pear, cherries, and apples; vegetables include asparagus and artichoke. “I got stuck on food for a while,” she says. A godsend for her during COVID, it gave her something to do every day. An odd job here and there keeps her active in this field.
Her fantasy work comes with book illustrations, done in watercolor with author Kate Hancock, three of which are “Spotless,” and another is “Rose on the Wallpaper.” She’s working on a third book with Hancock, “Fraidy Cat,” due out in the fall. “I love her writing,” she says. “They inspire me,” she says of the books. Gregory also has a series of shells in close-ups.
“It’s been an interesting journey,” she says. “You do what you have to do.”
Lane Gregory’s exhibit, “Fashion, Flowers, Fruit & Fantasy,” continues at the Vineyard Playhouse Art Space through August 21.