An artists’ co-op

Artisans truly come together at the Night Heron Gallery.

Twelve years ago a group of like-minded artists and artisans decided to pull together their resources and establish a cooperative gallery. Despite some turnover in participants over the years, the Night Heron Gallery is thriving, having established itself as the only artist-owned year-round co-op on the Vineyard.

A visit to the lovely gallery, located on Main Street, Vineyard Haven, reflects one of the group’s core principals — to provide the visitor with a wide range of locally made handcrafted projects. Each of the 11 co-op members has their own dedicated space. A trip around the gallery will provide an abundance of great gift ideas, ranging from ceramics and jewelry to bags and clothing and a few unexpected offerings like beautiful handbound books and journals and hand-cut paper shadow boxes.

Describing what makes an artisan-made purchase so special, Kathleen Tackabury, one of the founding members, says, “You know that someone’s hand has been to it and, in this case, a local hand has been to it.” As for the advantage of shopping in a co-op, she says, “We share everything, including manning the shop. You always meet an artist, and all of our artists are very well versed in the other artists’ work.”

Tackabury has been creating fine jewelry for more than four decades combining traditional metalsmithing with sculptural repousse techniques, which involves hammering metal from the reverse side to create a design in low relief. Tackabury works in sterling silver designs, often incorporating unique gemstones in her creations. More recently, the artist began crafting small wall-hanging sculptural pieces, inspired by life on the Island and the numerous creatures of the sea.

Uruguayan-born Washington Ledesma creates ceramics and paintings featuring magical, whimsical fish, birds, and other creatures, as well as fanciful human forms. His colorful pieces have earned the artist the distinction of being considered one of the most significant Latin American artists living in the United States today.

Beldan Radcliffe’s unique clothing designs have distinguished her as a textile artist with a truly unique vision. Her crafting of one-of-a-kind wearable art made from upcycled textiles was a natural progression from her work as a mixed-media and collage artist. Radcliffe recycles discarded sweaters to fashion wonderful one-of-a-kind pieces featuring coordinating colors and patterns. Her wearable art has enchanted locals and visitors alike for years, especially those with an eye for the unique and eye-catching. At the Night Heron Gallery you will find both artwork and clothing by Radcliffe.

Lisa Strachan has long been admired for her fine porcelain and stoneware creations. She tends to draw inspiration from the sea around her, carving waves, shells, and marine animals into her hand-built pieces which range from tableware to lamps to tiles. More recently, Strachan has begun making copper sculptures featuring seabirds perched atop driftwood pieces.

The other featured jeweler, Diana Stewart, is also a founding member of the co-op. Stewart is a classically trained metalsmith and gemologist. Her inspired necklaces, earrings, and rings incorporate delicate silver designs with gemstones whose colors and patterns reflect the beauty of the Island’s seascape and landscape.

Marie Meyer-Barton’s medium is leather. Using buttery soft, locally sourced deerskin and other fine leathers, she crafts baby moccasins, purses, pouches, backpacks, wallets, and leather jewelry. Many of her pieces feature intricate embossed and hand-dyed designs, while some incorporate carved clamshell buttons and beads.

Throughout the gallery, one can view Carolyn Warren’s lovely serene oil paintings. She captures solitary seascapes with a masterful eye for color and mood.

Designer Rachel Baumrin offers a wide variety of handmade products at the gallery. Selecting beautiful natural fabrics, she handcrafts original designs in purses, bags, shawls, scarves, eye pillows, herbal heat packs, face and sleep masks and more. Each of Baumrin’s pieces is one-of-a-kind, with many featuring interesting textural or design details.

Cynthia Perjeja of Hypatia Book Arts handcrafts utilizes a variety of centuries-old techniques to create one-of-a-kind books and journals from earth friendly materials. Her inventory includes leather bound, buttonhole stitch bound, rag wrapped, and coptic bound books. Materials used in Hypatia creations include rustic leather, hand-dyed silks, pressed flowers, and handmade papers from around the globe.

The newest member of the co-op, M-C Lamarre specializes in one niche line — handmade rope baskets and bags. The bags, available in a couple of different sizes, feature a brightly colored shoulder strap. With their clean lines in nautical white, and some small maritime influenced embellishments, the tote bags make the perfect accessory for a summer trip to the beach or a local farmer’s market.

Taylor Stone joined the co-op in 2020 after selling at the Vineyard Artisans Festival for many years (you can still find her there). Her hand-cut paper designs, housed in shadow boxes, are a fun, unique addition to the gallery’s offerings. Using a precision knife, Stone painstakingly cuts out every single detail of a landscape or whimsical tableaux individually, and places them at varying levels to create an eye-catching 3D effect.

Stone has found being part of the co-op to be a rewarding experience. “It got me into the business side of Vineyard Haven, being involved in the town business association,” she says. “As an artist I’m used to working on my own. When I was invited to be a part of this collaboration I was happy to have the opportunity to make friends with the other artists and to interact with visitors.”

The Night Heron Gallery, located at 58 Main Street, Vineyard Haven, is open seven days a week from 10 am to 6 pm.