Creative space

Galaxy Gallery in Oak Bluffs gears up for a season of themed art shows.

The Galaxy Gallery in Oak Bluffs is one of the Island’s best kept secrets. Hidden away behind the M.V. Camp Meeting Association, on a lot set back from Dukes County Avenue, the Galaxy is a nonprofit venue supported by the Martha’s Vineyard Center for the Visual Arts, (MVCVA), where one can find work in all media and styles. Launched in 2015 as a cooperative of 12 artists, the gallery has evolved into a space for numerous Island artists to show and sell their work.

According to MVCVA executive director Holly Alaimo, she wants the space to feel inclusive as opposed to curated. “The MVCVA is an organization that was established 30 years ago to support the artist community as a whole,” she said.

With that in mind, Alaimo is inviting all Island artists (either full-time or part-time Vineyarders) to participate in a series of themed shows. Those represented will range from established artists to those lesser known on the Vineyard to amateurs just dipping their toes into the gallery scene for the first time. Not only is this a very democratic approach, it will also give potential buyers a chance to pick up something from an emerging artist at a lower price.

First up will be a show centered on photography. Starting on Memorial Day weekend, the gallery will be showcasing work by Dena Porter, L.A. Brown, Peter Dreyer, Gabrielle Silva, and more. Nancy Shaw Cramer, former gallery owner who is best known for her textile work, will be contributing a series of interesting photo collages made from images of rocks and grasses that she cut into strips and reassembled. The collages are mounted onto wooden box panels with the sides painted a tarnished silver.

At the end of June, Alaimo will be transforming the Galaxy into a magical flora fantasy world with art work, ceramic pots, sculptures, birdhouses, windchimes, and anything appropriate for a garden theme. Jennifer Langhammer will also be showing some of her unique ceramic sculptural pieces. Plein air will be the theme for the following show, with a number of recognized Island artists participating including Liz Taft, Katy Upson, Dale Julier, Hermine Hull, and Marston Clough. All of the work will show scenes from around the Island as interpreted by artists painting on site. The Galaxy Gallery will host an opening for the show during the first of the Arts District Strolls on July 9.

The popular strolls — a tradition in the Arts District for many years — will feature open houses and receptions at the various galleries on Dukes County Avenue, live music, refreshments, sidewalk art vendors, and a street fair atmosphere with the stretch of road from Warwick Avenue to Masonic Avenue closed off to traffic. Other strolls are scheduled for August 6 and Sept. 3, from 4 to 7 pm.

Alaimo is combining two different media for the “Textiles and Sculpture Show” in late July and early August. Among those contributing work will be Joyce Maxner, who has created a series of whimsical sculptures from felted wool. Maxner has fashioned little rustic scenes like one featuring Nancy Luce surrounded by her beloved chickens and a woman milking a goat, with everything from the figure’s faces to Luce’s intricately patterned dress made from wool. The labor intensive process involves fashioning a wire armature as a base for raw wool in various colors which the artist then painstakingly transforms into molded surfaces using a variety of felting needles. Maxner, who is primarily a painter, has never shown this work publicly outside of the Agricultural Fair.

“Still Life and Lights” in August will feature, among other things, stained glass, lamps by painter Renee Balter, and a flying goose sculpture by Marston Clough that will hang from the ceiling, soaring above the scene. Alaimo merged the two themes intentionally, explaining, “Light is important in interpreting a still life.” And, as she adds, “One of the reasons that the Vineyard is so special is the light. We’re hoping to have some wonderful sunrises and sunsets for this show.”

The remaining themes for the season will include “Contrast: Drawing and Abstracts,” “Art Circle,” featuring the work of an Island painting group that has been meeting regularly for many years, and “Celebrating the Sea,” which is sure to bring out the creativity and passion for Island life from the artist participants.

The Galaxy Gallery will officially open on Mother’s Day weekend with an exhibit of children’s art by students of the Oak Bluffs School and a book signing with children’s author Kate Hancock.

Galaxy Gallery, 99 Dukes County, Oak Bluffs, will be open in June, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from 11 am to 5 pm. The gallery will be open in July and August, seven days a week, from 11 am to 5 pm. For the full schedule of shows and strolls, visit galaxy