A spring of new growth

by Sue Dawson


IT’S BEEN absolutely gorgeous on the Vineyard today. Temps in the high 60s, low 70s, sunny, light breeze. As I’ve walked around Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, it seems like everyone’s out getting ready for the summer season – builders, painters, gardeners, and even people moving furniture into a new storefront. Here at the gallery, we’re finally getting our new side door installed, and a much-needed new threshold. Our garden pros are coming tomorrow to plant a few pots and spring-clean the yard. Alison is spackling and painting the walls, and the colorful new “OPEN” flag that Claire ordered just arrived at the post office. 

I just love spring. Which is sad, because we don’t get much of my favorite season – at least the way I define it. I grew up in Baltimore, and spring in Maryland meant lots of flowers, warm days when we’d lie on those metal lounge chairs with the brightly-colored woven nylon tape, and slather on baby oil to be sure we “got some color.” From mid-March, through April and May, it stayed light into the evenings, birds and animals woke up from their winter slumber, and playgrounds were full of little kids running around. Today’s May 2nd, and I feel like this is the first true spring day on the island. 

Seeing all of the flowers and birds is glorious, but spring is also a particularly busy time around the gallery. For Alison and me, spring is usually when we gear up for the summer season. We normally open on Memorial Day weekend, so the preceding weeks are full of “to do” lists, spring cleaning, ordering supplies, and picking up our college student from school. But this year is different. All of the preparation happened earlier – before and after a short trip to Tuscany a couple weeks ago. 

Since 2006, Alison Shaw Gallery has only shown the work of its namesake, with one exception. For the last five years, Alison and I have co-taught our Mentorship programs for serious amateur photographers. Some graduates continue on with the year-long Advanced Mentorship, which, in 2015, culminated in a group show of student work. This year marks the second group show for the Advanced program, which will open this Sunday, May 6th, with a reception from 4 to 6 pm.

Photographers Lucy Dahl (Edgartown, MA), Jacqueline Abodeely (Saratoga Springs, NY), Beth Horstman (Queenstown, MD), and Andrea Dawson (Moreland Hills, OH) will be at the reception, along with Alison and me. This will be a stunning show, with black & white and color fine art photography. My theme of growth and new beginnings particularly applies to these four artists. Each one has produced a body of work that illustrates her unique creative voice, and has written an artist statement about the insights and processes that inform her art. Alison and I are so proud to host this show, and we’ve been honored to work with such talented photographers. 

So, as my best friend says… back to me. For the next few weeks the gallery will open at 11am – an hour later than in the summer. And we’ll be closed on Sundays. During these slices of time, I plan to enjoy my short little Island spring by starting my morning walks again. I officially began anew this morning, and despite my pedometer not working (conflicts with the new iOS), dropping my sunglasses on the street (ordered new frames from eBay), and splattering coffee on my vintage white Livestock concert sweatshirt (older folks will get the reference), I saw a lovely egret on Eel Pond, gorgeous double daffodils blooming on North Water Street, and had Lighthouse Beach completely to myself. Maybe spring isn’t so bad here after all. 

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