Galaxy Gallery presents artists’ views of Oak Bluffs


While Vineyard artists tend to favor scenes around the up-Island towns, focusing on the beaches and farmlands in West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Aquinnah, there’s a lot of beauty to be found down-Island too. The Galaxy Gallery is presenting a show exclusively dedicated to scenes from Oak Bluffs.

“We anticipated lots of Campgrounds and cottage scenes,” says gallery director Holly Alaimo. “Those are the things that a lot of people think of when they picture Oak Bluffs. But there’s a lot more to the town, and we were pleasantly surprised at the breadth of the work. It was nice reconnecting to all of the peaceful things about Oak Bluffs.”

Of course that doesn’t mean that gingerbread cottages, the Flying Horses, and other iconic sites aren’t represented in the show. In particular, Renee Balter has captured some of the most recognizable buildings around town in her own particular style. Balter has been a well-known figure in her hometown ever since she opened the inn Titticut Follies in 1981. She started painting scenes around town shortly after moving there. Her paintings include images of the Island Theater, the Flying Horses, and the former Souvenirs building: “I love the historical beauty of Oak Bluffs, and the Campgrounds is such a gem.” Balter is offering prints of some of her most popular paintings, as well as a brand-new calendar that includes images, and her history with the Island going back to the 1950s.

Stephanie Slater has taken a more intimate view in her Oak Bluffs paintings. Her contributions to the show include two images of seagulls sitting atop the globe-shaped street lights that line and punctuate Ocean Park and the State Beach stretch of Beach Road. “Everybody who lives in Oak Bluffs will recognize those light poles,” says Alaimo.

Many of Slater’s other images also include animals. She has depicted swans in Farm Pond, seals frolicking in the water off Beach Road, and a black Lab hanging out on Inkwell Beach. Other paintings include a vividly colored look at the fishing pier from underneath, with rows of pylons jutting from the water.

“I like to capture little bits of things,” says Slater. “I know there are really iconic scenes that other artists like, but I enjoy picking out little pieces of things that I notice every time I’m walking around.”

Beth Smith has also chosen to capture scenes that have become very familiar to her — especially during her drives to and from Edgartown on her commute for her former job as an ER nurse at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

“I always loved passing by Tradewinds, with that old hangar,” she says. “I love the openness of that scene.”

In her painting of that Land Bank property, done in her distinctive impressionist style, the artist focuses on the contrast of the yellows of the field and the blues of the sky with the dark line of trees separating the two, and the red-roofed hangar adding a colorful focal point. Another favorite view of Smith’s, one she has captured many times, including for an image in the show, is from Harthaven looking out at the ocean, with the dock in the foreground. “I never get sick of looking at that dock and thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to be there right now?’”

Illustrator and graphic designer Linda Bryant is showing both paintings and drawings. The latter includes a handful of images of classic Oak Bluffs Victorian houses, while her paintings capture less well-known homes, such as a tiny house on School Street. Bryant has painted two images of the annual Wind Festival. One is being used as the official poster for the event, while the other is on display in the show.

“For years I’ve been drawing Campground cottages,” says the artist, who moved to the Vineyard full-time two years ago after a five-decade career in graphic design.

Among the more unique pieces in the show are a couple of stained glass panels honoring the famed Flying Horses. Resplendent in their brightly colored harnesses, these carousel horses would make the perfect window adornment for an Oak Bluffs home.

Along with numerous paintings, photos, prints, and drawings, the show also includes pottery and work in a few other media. All together, more than 20 artists are represented. It’s a fun, all-encompassing look at the town of Oak Bluffs, viewed from a variety of different artistic perspectives.

“The Oak Bluffs Show” will hang through June 18 at the Galaxy Gallery, 99 Dukes County Ave., Oak Bluffs. Currently the gallery is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm. Full-time summer hours will commence on June 23, with the opening of the “Night Heron Gallery Reunion Show.”