Jeanne Staples looks at light in new exhibit


“Late Nights, Early Mornings” is the title of the exhibit by Edgartown artist Jeanne Staples on display at the Granary Gallery in West Tisbury through Thursday, August 18.

This talented artist’s new work includes “Ocean Park Fireworks,” a large oil painting where she explores the yin and yang that light takes on, and the way different forms of light interact. There is the artificial bandstand light, the more muted sky at dusk, and that of house lights, as well as the bright round balls on top of street lights. There are also the reflections of bandstand light on passersby, from a couple holding hands to a child riding on his parent’s shoulders. The composition suggests the liveliness and anticipation in the park setting on an important summer night. Of the sky at dusk she says, “This light only lasts for 20 minutes; then it’s gone.” Staples also calls attention in the painting to the shared experience of people who live on the Island, along with the people who come to visit. 

Hanging near this painting is another from last year, where Staples addresses some of the same issues: the interaction of nighttime and daytime light. The piece “Twilight Ferry” suggests a shared experience. For visitors, their vacation begins not when they arrive on-Island, but when they get on the boat, she points out.

A smaller painting called “Menemsha Market” captures this locale when the light is fading and it’s just about to close. Here she finds a hint of loneliness. Another study, “Raising the Sail on the Vanity,” belongs to the M.V. Museum. It’s early morning, when the light is very brilliant. She notes the way the light catches on the sails. A drawing titled “Clam Raker” reflects not the visitor’s experience but the workers we don’t notice so much. 

Staples also addresses still life paintings with some of the same issues. A large still life painting, “East Light,” represents a portrait of cabbage roses and asters. “I like the experience of scale in the work,” she says. “It occupies space.” Again, she calls attention to the kinds of light — that of the early morning, the light on the flowers, and the light coming through the window onto the linen curtains. Light is also reflected in the prism at the base of the vase.

“It’s a powerful impression, and I’m hoping that people will connect to it, and to the central composition,” she says. In discussing the use of white in the still life of flowers, Staples responded to a portrait commission in which the family was dressed in white, and it pushed the boundaries for her of what you can do with white.

“I still love doing landscapes,” she says about a series of smaller paintings, including “Stone Walls at Brookside Farm.” When fall comes, Staples and her husband head to Nova Scotia for several months, where her family has roots. 


Jeanne Staples’ “Late Nights, Early Mornings” is on exhibit at Granary Gallery through August 16. 636 Old County Road, West Tisbury. Visit