By Gwyn McAllister
“Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one.” –Stella Adler
While many Vineyard galleries close up shop after Columbus Day, and some never opened at all this year, there are still enough venues welcoming visitors all year round to feed the art lover’s soul, whether you’re just crossing over the pond for a quick visit or staying on for the off-season.
Edgartown remains a bastion of art even after the summer throngs have left the cobblestone streets clear for off-season guests to enjoy a quiet stroll through town.
The Eisenhauer Gallery, situated a few paces off one of Edgartown’s most popular throughways — North Water Street — features the work of a variety of local and nationally known artists. The focus is on contemporary art, but that doesn’t limit the scope of styles to be found in the lovely, open-to-fresh-air space. The gallery, now celebrating its 20th year, continually adds new artists to the mix. This year owner Elizabeth Eisenhauer welcomed two new female artists — Janice Frame, whose most recent mixed-media work features portraits of Black men and women arrayed in colorful traditional garments and accessories, and Janet McGreal, whose bold, simplified flower-based paintings reflect a pop art or color block aesthetic.
The Christina Gallery on Winter Street offers a very different viewing experience. The four-decades-old gallery focuses on traditional artwork, including Impressionism and Expressionism by contemporary artists, and marine and landscape paintings by living masters. The gallery also boasts a collection of antique maps and nautical charts, as well as a continually expanding modern masters collection, which includes affordable works by such well-known artists as Mary Cassatt, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Maurice Utrillo. This past summer the gallery hosted two solo exhibits of work by nationally recognized marine artist Bill R. Davis and local painter Marjorie Mason. Mason’s show attracted a great deal of attention, and the artist has been busy replenishing the all-but-sold-out stock, with new paintings arriving at the gallery weekly.
The Vineyard’s newest art space, the pop-up Winter Street Gallery, will remain open until further notice. Although it just opened its doors in July, the contemporary gallery has already attracted a good deal of attention for its exhibits featuring exciting cutting-edge work by artists of international fame, as well as sought-after emerging and mid-career artists. The gallery started off with a splash with its first few shows, one of which featured work by renowned artists such as Philip Guston and David Byrd. The co-owners, George Newall and Ingrid Lundgren, have both forged careers in the international art world, providing them with a network of connections and access to both established and hot up-and-coming artists from around the globe. The couple is dedicated to showcasing work by both artists of renown and emerging artists (including a number of local young artists) in equal part.
Vineyard Haven remains a fairly busy town even once the summer tourists have departed. Among the many Main Street shops that stay open year-round, one will find the popular Louisa Gould Gallery welcoming visitors all fall and winter long. Owner Louisa Gould estimates that she represents over 35 artists, and each one, as a trip to the gallery will make obvious, has a very personal and unique style. Gould offers something for every artistic palette, from hyper-realism to abstract, and a mix representing both artists from on and off-Island. Along with paintings and other wall art, the gallery features sculpture, ceramics, and one of-a-kind jewelry in a large, two-room open-plan space. Gould, who is also a photographer specializing in marine scenes and yacht racing, always carries a good selection of work relating to the sea, ships, fishing, and Vineyard landscapes. This year, for the first time, the gallery is hosting an online version of the Inaugural Invitational Marine Art Group Show. With the Mystic Museum of Art in Mystic, Conn., closed due to COVID-19, Gould has stepped in to present a group show of the work of a number of American Society of Marine Artists members. Many of the pieces will be on view at the gallery, while the rest of the show can be found on the gallery’s website.
A quick walk just outside of downtown Vineyard Haven will lead visitors to Althea Freeman-Miller’s small gallery, featuring her own charming block print designs. Nestled next door to The Martha’s Vineyard Times’ office on Beach Road, Althea Designs serves as both a gallery and studio for the young artist, who will continue to open her doors to the public on weekends throughout the year. She will also be hosting weekly outdoor pop-up events, featuring the work of a number of local artisans, on Fridays in the parking lot as long as the weather cooperates.
While things slow down considerably for the up-Island towns during the fall and winter, one West Tisbury destination remains a hot spot for art lovers throughout the year. The Granary Gallery, located in an iconic red barn on Old County Road, is the oldest and largest art gallery on the Vineyard. All year-round visitors can stop by daily for a stroll through this light-filled gallery, which displays everything from work by popular local artists to original paintings and drawings by famed artist Thomas Hart Benton and photos by the late American icon Alfred Eisenstadt — both of whom spent a good deal of time on the Vineyard and depicted Island scenes in their work. A visit to this museum-like labyrinthine gallery is sure to be a highlight of any up-Island trek.