Linda Besse “Wild” shows at the Louisa Gould Gallery



Louisa Gould looks beyond Vineyard landscapes with the latest show hanging at her eponymous gallery on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. A solo exhibit of the work of acclaimed artist Linda Besse is currently on view. It features a host of animals pictured in their natural environments — from the plains of Africa to the ice floes of Iceland. 

The show is appropriately titled “Wild,” and it presents a handful of the many exotic, and not so exotic, locales where the Washington State–based artist has traveled in recent years. 

Besse’s intimate relationship with her subjects and their surroundings transports the viewer to some spectacular environments, introducing them to regional wildlife in an up-close-and-personal light.

It’s not surprising that Besse’s images take on a life of their own. Every painting is based on her personal experience with the given subject. The oil painter, who works from onsite field drawings and personal photos, has traveled to some of the most remote areas of the globe to record her adventures through art.

The show includes stunning images of zebras drinking at a watering hole, a rare black rhino, a polar bear tromping across ice floes in search of seals, and a group of penguins taking the plunge into icy waters. 

A bit closer to home are paintings of a galloping wild horse, a pair of startled deer, and a wonderfully evocative painting of a red fox on the prowl on a misty morning. The bird world is also represented by images of owls and ducks. A charming portrait of a cedar waxwing perched on a flowering branch with pale pink blossoms in the background gives the painting a remarkably three-dimensional effect. 

Besse’s love of the natural world led her to originally pursue a career in geology. During her study, she developed a fascination with wildlife that led to her current career. Her search for inspiration has taken her to every U.S. state, more than 45 countries, and to all seven continents. Her background in geology and her husband’s work as an exploration geologist have allowed her access to areas normally off-limits to amateur explorers.

In search of subjects, she has traversed the remote tundra of Labrador to research the caribou migration, paddled a canoe 459 miles on the Noatak River to see musk ox above the Arctic Circle, taken a floatplane to salmon-filled streams to watch grizzly bears in Alaska, snorkeled in Hudson Bay with wild beluga whales, and crossed the Drake Passage to Antarctica in 48-foot seas.

Louisa Gould has been representing Besse for a number of years now — primarily showing her landscapes and seascapes. This is the second year in a row that Gould has hosted a show featuring Besse’s wildlife paintings. She notes that locals have shown great interest in the work. A couple of the images have already sold. 

“It’s something different for the Vineyard,” says Gould. “I’ve sold paintings to people who have been on safari, and are very impressed with the realism and intimacy of the work.”

Hanging concurrently is a show featuring new artwork by some of the gallery’s most popular artists. The opening for both shows will take place on Saturday, May 25, from 4:30 to 6 pm. 

“Wild — Wildlife Art by Linda Besse” will hang through June 19. The Louisa Gould Gallery is located at 54 Main Street, Vineyard Haven. Open daily from 11 am to 5 pm.