Art galleries and exhibits were busy as ever this year


With the worst of the pandemic behind us, and things back in full swing this year, galleries and venues made up for lost time by hosting a number of exhibits and events that made 2022 an exceptional year for the arts on the Vineyard. Here’s a look back on some of the highlights. 

Early in the year, with the war in Ukraine on everybody’s mind, the Galaxy Gallery in Oak Bluffs kicked off its summer season with a benefit art sale in support of medical and humanitarian aid for the war-torn country. It included dozens of local artists, including some of the biggest names in the Island art world such as Allen Whiting, Kara Taylor, Ruth Kirchmeier, and Traeger di Pietro. Each of the participating artists contributed work that sold for the same minimum donation of $200. The gallery, which is supported and operated by the Martha’s Vineyard Center for the Visual Arts (MVCVS) raised thousands for the Boston-based nonprofit Sunflower of Peace. 

Tanya Augoustinos had a very busy year. Starting in June, the Featherstone Center for the Arts hosted a show curated by the longtime curator. The eclectic exhibit featured a variety of contemporary work by artists who previously showed at Augoustinos’ A Gallery, as well as many more whom the gallery has supported throughout the years. 

Among the impressive lineup were works by Irving Petlin, who is considered one of the modern masters of pastels; Richard Lee, whose unique surrealist reverse paintings on glass were the feature of an extensive exhibition at the M.V. Museum last year; and local artist Rez Williams, who has earned a reputation across the country for his large-scale landscapes and fishing vessel paintings. 

Along with these notable artists, there were also some of Augsotinos’ more recent discoveries like conceptual artist Richard Erickson, who works in a variety of media and styles, creating very unique, even avant-garde paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media pieces. 

In August, Augoustinos, along with the estate of Irving Petlin, hosted a show of the artist’s work at his former studio in West Tisbury. During his lifetime, Petlin made it a tradition to invite friends and associates to his Vineyard studio once a year to show off new work, much of which was destined for galleries in New York and Europe.

The exhibit and sale represented the first time since 2017 that Petlin’s studio was open to the public for an up-close-and-personal look at the work and workplace of the internationally celebrated artist and activist who split his time between the Vineyard and Paris. 

In July the Knowhere Gallery in Oak Bluffs hosted an exhibit dedicated to abstraction, which included work in many media by Wendy Weldon, Robert Hauck, Martha Mae Jones, Sarah Larsen, and Mohamed Yakub. The latter is a Bronx-based artist and frequent Vineyard visitor who creates fascinating abstract images with his camera. Among the subjects whose unique qualities he has captured throughout the years is the Oculus, a looming sculpture that serves as the centerpiece for lower Manhattan’s PATH Station. Yakub shot the ribs and orbs of the gigantic sculptural piece to create wonderful abstract photos that summon up images of a space station, a seagoing vessel and more, depending on the viewer. 

Beloved artist Wendy Weldon also contributed a series of abstract paintings that she created over the past few years. While she is best known for her primitive-style images of barns and stone walls, the popular Vineyard artist has focused more recently on work that is even further abstracted, to pure color and form. 

After spending decades living and painting on the Vineyard, Weldon and her partner James Langlois moved off-Island earlier this month. Before they left, the couple hosted studio visits to give Islanders a final chance to purchase their art and say their goodbyes to two artists whose presence here made a lasting impact on the local art scene. 

For 20-plus years artist Glenn Tunstull, who lives in the Hudson Valley but spends time on the Vineyard each summer, has been showing his work at the Cousen Rose Gallery in Oak Bluffs. In August, gallery owner Zita Cousens honored the popular artist with the gallery’s CRG crystal design award. 

The award ceremony took place during the course of an exhibit of Tunstull’s oils and watercolors, many of Vineyard scenes. Tunstull’s Martha’s Vineyard paintings have become highly desirable on the Island, where he has earned loyal followers and forged many lasting relationships. 

In August, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum honored an Island icon when it hosted an exhibit of work by Stan Murphy. The show celebrated the 100th anniversary of the beloved artist’s birth. On display were dozens of paintings, drawings, sketches, and notebooks honoring the Vineyard — its history and its people. Much of the work in the show consisted of portraits of locals, many of salt-of-the-earth types, along with landscapes featuring familiar Island scenes. 

The Louisa Gould Gallery in Vineyard Haven is currently hosting a much smaller show of Murphy’s work. The show opened in October, and will hang through the end of January. Unlike the museum exhibit, all of the work is for sale, marking the first time since the artist’s passing that his work has been publicly offered. The 12 works on view come from the collections of Murphy’s children, David and Laura, who have selected pieces that represent a range of subjects and media from the renowned artist’s six-decade career. 

You can still catch the show through the end of January or online. The gallery is also hosting the annual end-of-year sale with close to 100 works of art on offer for 25 to 30 percent off. Gould says that she is clearing out some of her stock to make room for the upcoming 20th anniversary of the popular gallery. It will be open daily through Jan. 8, and then long weekends and by appointment through the rest of the winter.