The Ashley Medowski Gallery opens this Island artist’s 21st annual art show on Saturday, August 5. Featuring Menemsha fishing shacks and Island birds, the exhibit runs through Sunday, Sept. 10.
Located on Lambert’s Cove Road in West Tisbury, the gallery features a plethora of this year’s paintings, and driftwood sculpture. Made by Medowski, puppets of family fishing lures and a wooden float are housed on the main floor of the gallery, the fishing barn that belonged to her great-grandfather. In addition, there is a bright-beaked driftwood seagull, as well as a paintbox turtle decorated with colorful squares. The turtle’s first life was as a box that belonged to her great-grandfather.
In this way, Medowski draws extensively on family history to make her art. One of her more magical paintings on the main floor is “Becoming Stars,” where tiny white figures gradually transform into stars. She suggests this work seems to touch people, and “makes them feel something.” It’s available in reproductions as well as the original, which has already been sold.
“I do love architecture,” she says, looking at a brightly colored painting of Oak Bluffs gingerbread houses. Other subjects that appeal to her include Menemsha fishing shacks and old barns. “The buildings tell a story. It’s the old Vineyard charm,” she says. “That’s what I find beautiful.” In “Split Rock at Night,” she’s taken a circular piece of wood and repeated the shape on the crescent blue surf, breaking onto the beach with a star-filled evening sky above.
The winter proved a particularly productive period for the artist. One of the paintings in this group is called “Sledding at Sweetened Water Farm,” set in Edgartown, illustrating the joy of the sport. She often works in plein air, sketching a scene of a Menemsha shack she then turns into a full-fledged painting back in the gallery.
The second floor of the gallery does double duty, serving as a workshop as well as an exhibit space. Several works here sit on the counter, ready to be framed. Medowski does all of her own framing, and her artist’s eye can be seen at work in where they hang: white-framed works on a brown wooden wall, and black-framed paintings on a white wall. “The frames take me all spring; they’re a piece of the art,” she says. Some of the paintings float in their frames. “They help make the picture pop,” she explains. “Then you can dive right into the painting.”
“Ring-Necked Pheasant on James Pond” sits on a counter, ready to be framed. It is a spectacularl portrait of the bird, who walked through the gallery yard last fall. “I was so inspired by its color and its grace,” she says, so she turned it into a painting.
The winter produced other avian portraits. “I tried to capture all my favorites,” she says. They include a wren, which she describes as “full of spunk and character.” Winter is when bluebirds come, she notes.
Medowski’s work tends to be small in scale. “I’m very detailed,” she says. “Smaller is better.” By working on a small scale, she can also keep the price points better for her customers.
“I did a lot of work,” she says. “It was quite a productive year.” She also executes commissions. “I’m happy to have the gallery full of new work,” she says. “Each painting is a journal in my life.”
Ashley Medowski Gallery, 367 Lambert’s Cove Road, West Tisbury. Art on exhibit Saturday, August 5 to Sunday, Sept. 10. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm.