If you haven’t made it over to Edgartown’s Old Sculpin Gallery this year, the next few weeks will offer a last chance to visit the landmark building and check out a couple of different shows.
The Old Sculpin Gallery is the exhibition space for work by Martha’s Vineyard Art Association (MVAA) members. Housed in a historic 1840 structure that was once used variously as a whale oil factory, a grain store, and a boatbuilder’s shed, the very distinctive building has been an exhibition space since 1954, when artists of renown like Thomas Hart Benton and Ruth Appledorn Mead were active members of the association.
Every week during the summer months, the Old Sculpin Gallery hosts an exhibit by a rotating selection of artist members. Starting on Saturday, Sept. 18, the gallery will be showing the work of three painters working in three different media — Alexis Russillo (oils), Susan Convery (watercolors), and Ed Schulman (acrylics and charcoal drawings). The three artists focus on different subjects. Russillo is a landscape painter, Schulman creates figurative images, and Convery primarily paints flowers.
This is the first Old Sculpin show for Florida-based artist Convery, who was born on the Vineyard and can trace her family’s Island lineage back five generations. Although she’s been a MVAA member for 10 years, it’s only recently that she felt prepared to hang a show.
Recently retired from teaching art to upper-level high school students preparing for art school, Convery only found the time last year to really focus on her own work. She began by painting watercolor images of flowers grown by her many gardening friends. “I’m doing flowers because I love them,” she says. “I haven’t found my own voice yet, so I’m experimenting.”
At the upcoming exhibit, she will be showing her colorful floral paintings, along with a few Island scenes, including a wonderful image of kids jumping off the Second Bridge. Although Convery is no longer teaching full-time, she is still taking on adult students, and shows her work as a member of the Gold Coast Watercolor Society, the Broward Artist’s Guild, and the Plantation Art Guild.
Ed Schulman had a very successful show at the Old Sculpin in August, and has been busy working on new images for this, his second show of 2021. For this exhibit he is trying out something new. He was recently gifted with a collection of ornate antique frames which he painted white to provide an interesting border for a number of his simple, highly stylized drawings and primitive-style paintings. Schulman works with minimal lines and brushstrokes, achieving a lot of emotion and narrative from very little. His minimalist style has earned him a following among connoisseurs of contemporary art.
Alexis Russillo grew up on the Vineyard, and then went on to study at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy, where she was classically trained in figurative painting. However, her passion is for painting landscapes based on some of her favorite spots around the Island. Russillo has also mastered the art of metalworking, creating her own frames by soldering brass. “What I love about using the brass is that there is brass and copper in the earth, which suits the natural subjects of my work,” says the artist. “The rich color of brass adds a pretty stunning element to the paintings.”
Along with the Old Sculpin, Russillo shows her work at the Nya Clark Gallery in Oak Bluffs. She also offers live painting experiences at weddings and fundraisers.
Following the last of the artist spotlight shows, the gallery will host its season finale — the yearly Members Show, featuring work by most of the 45 members of the MVAA. This annual exhibit offers a great chance to check out the wide scope of artists currently working on the Vineyard.
The exhibit of works by MVAA members Susan Convery, Ed Schulman, and Alexis Russillo will hang from Sept. 18 to 24, with an opening reception on Sunday, Sept. 19, from 5 to 7. The Members Show will be on view from Sept. 25 through Oct. 11. Old Sculpin Gallery is located at 58 Dock St., Edgartown. Open Monday to Saturday 9-6, and Sunday noon-7 pm.