A taste of the tropics

AK Venti in Edgartown offers semi-abstract paintings, along with the perfect floral wrap dress.

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The AK Venti gallery boutique in Edgartown offers more than just art to hang on your wall. The lovely space on Main Street features bright, semi-abstract paintings by the owner on the walls, as well as art to wear in the form of owner and artist Anastasia Venti’s original line of silk wrap dresses with colorful prints drawn from her artwork.

Venti took a leap of faith when she opened her gallery and boutique in Edgartown this past summer. A self-taught artist, the 25-year-old had already earned a bit of a following while waiting tables on-Island, where her work hung on the wall. “The Beach Plum let me hang my paintings in the dining room, and people were buying them off the walls,” she says. When the space in Edgartown became available this year, Venti decided to bring her work to the general public, and to use her lifelong interest in fashion to offer a unique line of dresses in five different vibrant prints.

Venti paints landscapes, boats, and animals, as well as stylized tropical- and floral-inspired images — focusing on bright colors and wide, loose brushstrokes. She primarily uses acrylics, adding focal points with metallic oil paints, and she tends toward large-scale paintings. The colors pop and the images have a great deal of energy, almost electricity in some cases.

For the silk dresses, Venti created stylized, botanical-inspired paintings that would be suitable for reproducing on fabric. Some feature a wild tangle of flowers (i.e., white and green lilies on a black background), others look almost like an abstract expressionist painting.

Venti had the five designs in her collection printed on silk in Italy, and then found a seamstress in Massachusetts to turn the high-quality silk into comfortable, knee-length, belted wrap dresses. The garments have a wonderful flow that works really well with the swirling patterns.

“I’ve always loved a wrap dress,” says the designer. “It’s timeless. It’s classic. You can throw a sweater over it and wear it for so many seasons.” Venti also made a few ties which, she notes, add a great splash of color to a wedding party ensemble. She plans to expand her line into skirts, and possibly other items, for next year.

The artist and designer grew up in Essex and Newport, R.I. Although she has no formal training in art, she has been surrounded by creative people since childhood. Her grandfather was a New York City–based commercial photographer. Her uncle, Anthony Venti, who lives in Maine, is an established painter and illustrator. Venti’s mother is an expert seamstress who passed along her love of fashion to her daughter.

After high school, Venti opted to further her education through travel. She toured throughout Europe, and in 2019, packed up and moved to Fiji for the winter — by herself. When asked, “Why Fiji?” Venti replied, “I’ve always had a thing for islands, and I wanted to put myself totally out of my comfort zone.”

Her love of islands led Venti to relocate to the Vineyard four years ago. The beauty of the landscape inspired her to start painting seriously, while the colors and vibrancy of the South Pacific have clearly influenced her style.

Venti began painting as a way to deal with the downtime from her work in restaurants. “In the winter especially, I needed an outlet on the Island to quiet my mind,” she says.

“I’ve always known that I wanted to be here and travel in the off-season,” says Venti. “I love the ocean. I love sailing. I paint places on the Island that I know are near and dear to people’s hearts. I love being surrounded by beautiful things.”

AK Venti gallery boutique, 238 Upper Main St., Edgartown, is open Friday and Saturday, 11 am to 5 pm, and Sunday from noon to 5 pm, through the end of the year, and then will be closed until April. Visit anastasiaventi.com/gallery-boutique.