Reflections of summer in art at Featherstone


The weather may be cooler, but it’s still summer at Featherstone, with its first community exhibition after the height of the season — “Summer Celebrations and Reflections.”

The show’s gallery sign, with Doug Allen’s huge, arresting photograph of a teenager caught mid-flight defying gravity, arms splayed as he flips upside down off Jaws Bridge with four of his friends looking on, immediately greets you when you enter.

Bella Morais, administrative and gallery coordinator, loosely curated the 187 works from 80 artists by color and theme. Appropriately, vessels line the wall on the left, starting with John Holladay’s “Sirius,” a substantial tugboat, docked on the serene waters in Menemsha. His range of blues is striking, from the masterful short strokes that create the ship’s reflections to the various shades in the wispy, cloud-filled sky.

At the end of the wall, you can’t help but adore David Joseph’s “Feline Maritime Vessel,” which he constructs entirely from found objects. Kitty sailors of different shapes and sizes, including an orange, patch-eyed fellow in charge of the rudder, fill the toy wooden sailboat perched atop a 100-year-plus draftsman’s box.

Around the corner, there are more vessels, including Larry Glick’s “Menemsha Reflections,” in which he focuses not on the boat tucked away at the top, but on the mesmerizing, multicolored reflections from the unseen scene that, despite being a photograph, look like loose brushwork in an oil painting. Archie Robertson evokes the open sea in his wall-size, completely abstract, mixed-media work, in which he applied the flying paint across the canvas with bamboo, creating a controlled rhythm that plays off the resulting lines’ dynamic nature. Equally abstract is Albion Vu’s repeating tall ocean-blue columns in “On My Way to You I,” which leaves the poetic interpretation up to the viewer.

Ann Meleney offers us gems of mesmerizing prints in which whales gracefully dance in gorgeous underwater compositions, where streaks of gold light increase the sensuous play of color and form. L.A. Brown puts us on the back of a boat in “The Ponder Trail” — an enormous monotone photograph in which the tail of the wake recedes far, far back toward the distant horizon line, as we seem headed in after a day on the water.

Among the images of the shoreline is Denys Wortman’s drone photograph, “Squibnocket Surf,” in which the breaking waves that roll toward the beach dissolve into an abstract design. Coming just inland, the dappled sunlight and shadows play along the greatly receding path in Debbie Milne’s bright acrylic painting.

Leaving the water, there are a few figurative works, including Dan Henry’s small “Untitled” mixed-media piece, where he uses fabrics to create what seems to be a floral garden in which two black and two gold silhouette figures stand. Bernica Wilcox paints a large, sensuous nude of a Black woman, with a butterfly stretching over her entire back, who stands smack in front of a bright orange sun mysteriously titled “A Summer He Should Have Had.”

Not all figurative work is actually of humans. Toby Gordon’s photo portraits of a goat and bull are endearing reminders of our agricultural roots, as is Sheila M. Fane’s “Field of Sheep II,” in which she adds cutouts of the white creatures over a monotype printed on handmade paper.

In contrast, Emily Davis fashions tiny works from cut leaves, including one of Rebecca Gilbert from Native Earth Teaching Farm, in which four of her renowned goats are stacked up alongside her. Davis’ small pieces are displayed on shelves along with other miniature-size works in a section humorously called “Snippets of Summer.” Here, too, we see Jennifer Lyonnais’ collage sculptures made of shells, rocks, and sea glass that create delightful miniatures, including “Shrine” and “Washashore IV,” which are tiny versions of the totems or shrines people construct on the beach.

Among Liz Dolan Durkee’s three iconic Oak Bluffs–themed square photographs is an extreme closeup, “Illumination Night,” where portions of four Japanese lanterns create a fabulous, colorful, bulbous composition. Elsewhere, we are caught by the sharp, geometric design Susan Garrett constructs by repeating the peaked triangular roofs in her intriguing black-and-white photograph “Union Chapel.” Bob Avakian also works in black-and-white, shooting when the overhead clouds create a moody large photograph, “American Barn / 3 of 20,” where the white wood of the doors and windows seem lit up from some unseen light source.

It wouldn’t be summer without floral images, which include a circle of sunflowers echoing the shape of the platter in Helayne Cohen’s beautifully designed ceramic “Sunflower Daze Serving Tray.” Nisa Mars’ stunning reverse painting of acrylic on glass in “Daughters of Floret” stops you in your tracks, as the lush row of flowers fills the space in her large, narrow, wood-framed work.

Tucked amid so many more pieces that evoke summer is Aline Wolff’s extreme close-up of a goldenrod, which, coming as it does at the end of the season, reminds us of the pending fall.

“Summer Celebrations and Reflections” is on view at Featherstone Center for the Arts through Oct. 9.