By Brooks Robards
Cousen Rose Gallery in Oak Bluffs ends the season with a retrospective that showcases most of its 17 artists. “This was an incredible summer for selling art,” said owner Zita Cousens in an interview last week. The show will run through Tivoli Day on Sept. 14.
Cousens added several new artists this year, including Kelly O’Neal, with color photographs, and Rayhart, with acrylics. O’Neal’s marine-scape, “Peace,” pairs water in muted shades with soft reddish mist, hills, and rippling clouds. Rayhart’s “High Chair,” a portrait of a girl in a yellow dress, has been especially popular. Influenced by pointillism, Rayhart writes, “My efforts were to use large dashes of color to achieve my own effect.”
Cousens finds new artists when traveling to festivals. “When I look at the season, I think about what will be different, what will be new and fresh,” she says. Many of the gallery’s artists summer or live on the Vineyard. Some of their works she doesn’t even need to display, because people who collect them automatically ask to see what’s new. Three jewelry makers, Marie Allen, Adrienne Childs, and Jeanne Svikhart, also exhibit their work.
In addition to an art gallery, Cousen Rose Gallery acts as a cultural center. Celebrities have appeared there, including Danny Glover, whom Cousens bumped into and invited to the gallery; Cedric the Entertainer; and comedian Tommy Davidson. Keyboard player Adele Dryer of Edgartown provided music. Book signings have included Nadine Epstein with “Elie Wiesel: An Extraordinary Life and Legacy”; Richard Michelson with “The Language of Angels”; Skip Finley with “Historic Tales of Oak Bluffs”; Ron Ferguson and Tasha Robertson with “The Formula: Unlocking the Secrets to Raising Highly Successful Children”; and Carol Fulp with “Success Through Diversity: Why the Most Inclusive Companies Will Win.” In addition to her collages, artist Ekua Holmes has children’s books on display.
Among the gallery’s regulars are Glen Tunstall, who does oils and watercolors, and photographer Robin Gottesman. Tunstall’s “Autumn Stroll” is a landscape with two trees whose vibrantly colored leaves swirl like pinwheels. In Gottesman’s “Sunrise Jumper 3,” the dramatic silhouette of a swimmer is captured in midair in front of an early morning horizon.
Cousens describes Nadine Epstein, also new to the gallery, as having a very different approach. This photographer takes an image and repeats it, as in “Lady Bess,” where the multiples of a woman become an abstract black pattern. Epstein also photographs Vineyard trails and beaches in her “Shadows Project.” This multitalented photographer is editor and publisher of Moment magazine, co-founded by Elie Wiesel.
Other artists at Cousen Rose include Magi Leland, whose oils on linen include the evocative landscape “Chilmark Toward the Sea.” Lynn Hoeft has on exhibit “Fifteen Feathers,” as well as other still lifes. In addition, the gallery features Myrna Morris, Robert Fizgerald, John Breckenridge, Michael Escoffery, Randy Coleman, Wanda Wiggins, and marine artist Joyce Harvey. James Denmark is one of the last surviving members of the Harlem Renaissance, and Paul Goodnight returns after first appearing at the gallery in 1982.
“My biggest challenge,” Cousens says, “is to fit and expose the artists I have.” She describes her gallery as featuring an ethnically diverse group of artists. It has been located in the same building on Circuit Avenue for 30 years. “My husband says the only reason I remember our anniversary is because it coincides with the number of years in this building,” Cousens says.