For their last group show of the season, the Old Sculpin Gallery is featuring the work of five local women, each representing a distinctive style. The exhibit will include paintings by June Schoppe, Susan Convery, Sharon Rosenfeld, and Valentine, along with black and white photographs by Libby Ellis.
The gallery, home of the Martha’s Vineyard Art Association, is housed in a very unique historical building that was once a boatbuilding workshop for Edgartown local legend Manuel Swartz Roberts. The odd-shaped structure featuring all of the original details from its early 20th-century beginnings as a grain warehouse, is worth a visit alone. All of the artists whose work can be seen there on a rotating basis are juried members of the Art Association, which has an equally storied history.
Inspired by the gallery’s annual Catboat Weekend, two of the featured artists will be exhibiting a number of maritime images, along with other subjects.
June Schoppe has organized the event since its inception in 2021. Although she’s not a sailor herself, Schoppe has developed a profound appreciation for the sport. “I absolutely love the idea of sailing,” she says. “Since we started the Catboat Weekend three years ago, I’ve gotten to really understand the motion in the water, the beauty and symmetry of the boats, especially the older boats. There’s a wonderful combination of form and function and I love that they’re used for both pleasure and work.”
One of Schoppe’s most striking images, titled “Red Right Returning,” shows a catboat with a deep red sail pulling into the Edgartown Yacht Club. The artist explains that the title is a play on the navigational term used to direct boats around buoys.
“Another thing that came about from the catboat event was an emphasis on the water itself,” says Schoppe. “This year the gallery show was called ‘Wind and Water.’” That theme led the artist to create a series of images emphasizing waves crashing into the shore with the surrounding sea shown in all of its varied colors and formations.
Schoppe will also be showing scenes from her winter home in Florida, including birds and flowers.
Susan Convery knows the Vineyard’s waters and shores as well as anybody. A native of Martha’s Vineyard, her Island roots date back four generations. Convery is also a veteran sailor, having been a member of the sailing team at Georgetown University and sailed with the Edgartown Yacht Club races for years.
Convery, like Schoppe, is a former art teacher, a lifelong occupation that led her to gain proficiency in a number of different media. Along with watercolors of familiar Island scenes, such as boats at sail, Vineyard sunsets and kids jumping off the bridge, Convery will also be showing images from a children’s book that she illustrated called “Thirty Dirty Sailors and the Little Girl Who Went a-Whaling” by Dillon Bustin.
Among the most inventive of Convery’s work is an oil painting of a small sailing craft set amongst a vibrant sea created by pouring acrylic paint to create swirls of color that make the image look almost like a topographic ocean map.
Turning the view from sea to land, Valentine, who creates a new series for the Old Sculpin every year, is contributing four large oil paintings of Island barns, along with one of a barn in Wyoming. Although she’s best known for her landscapes, Valentine is always one to experiment with style — from representational to abstract. The artist was inspired by the view of the barn on her own West Tisbury property. “I realized that it’s such an important part of our property,” she says. “I wanted to tap into the personality of the barn.”
Departing from the cozy scenes of farm life depicted in the other four, “Barn Meets Tornado” shows a dilapidated up-Island structure (the tornado is purely artistic license) whose beauty derives from the historical nature of the image and the intimate view of the craftsmanship of the barn.
Sharon Rosenfeld, whose atmospheric landscapes and seascapes will also be on view, writes in her artist’s statement, “The work is informed by a lifetime spent near the sea. It is particularly attuned to sites where land, water, and sky all meet. I like to capture the shifting ripples on the water and the delicate drift of color. I’ve always been a sun-chaser, a lover of spaces that shimmer with sunshine.”
The lone photographer represented in the exhibit, Libby Ellis, will be showing examples of her sublime black-and-white closeup images of flowers in which she expertly captures all of the distinctive silhouettes and irregularities of leaf and bloom, along with every delicate tendril and bud. “When you take away color, you can see things you might have otherwise missed,” she writes in her artist’s statement.
Following the group show, the Old Sculpin will hang solo exhibits of the work of local artists David Joseph, who creates charming anthropomorphic little sculptures from found objects (Sept. 9-15) and Ed Schulman, who will be showing paintings and drawings done in his signature primitive style (Sept. 16-22).
Group show featuring the work of Susan Convery, Sharon Rosenfeld, Valentine, June Schoppe, and Libby Ellis will hang through Sept. 8 at the Old Sculpin Gallery, 58 Dock St., Edgartown.