Archive for the ‘Alison Shaw Gallery’ Category

‘Tis the season

by Sue Dawson

THESE DAYS, I’ve been thinking a lot about the seasons. Days are longer and warmer this time of year. Trees and gardens have sprung back to life, grass needs to be mowed again, and island property owners are busy painting, fixing, updating, and getting ready for lots of visitors. There’s a heightened awareness, a sense that things are about to change.

I’ve always said that I love living in a place that has a seasonal economy. The summer is crowded, busy, fast-moving, exciting, stressful, and vibrant. There are TONS of things to do, and LOTS of people to do them with. All of the restaurants and stores are open for business, movie theaters are screening multiple titles each week, and the Back Door Donuts line weaves its circuitous path through the Reliable parking lot. On the downside, traffic is a problem, as are bugs, ticks, poison ivy, and certain… shall I say… attitudes.

I remember one summer when Alison and I took our two kids (then 4 and 7) up to Menemsha to have a picnic, kayak, climb on the jetties, and watch the sunset. Sarah (7) met a girl her age, and they played together all evening. As we packed our cars to head home, Sarah asked me to get her new friend’s address so they could play again. I introduced myself to the girl’s dad, who was loading his car with sandy towels and coolers (Alison was doing the same thing, halfway across the parking lot). His car had NY plates, and we talked about what he did for a living, where he lived. Then he asked where we’re from. “Here,” I said. His eyes bugged wide-open and he said “Here? You mean Martha’s Vineyard?” I nodded yes, and he followed with “Huh… you mean islanders come up here to watch the sunset too?” 

Islanders are nodding as they read this – we all have our stories. It can be stressful when visitors take over and think this temporary playground belongs to them. I know some people who won’t even come down-island (to Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, Edgartown) all summer, so they can avoid the throngs. Even so, I love when everyone comes to the island. I thrive on the energy they bring with them. 

Until I don’t.

But lucky me – as soon as I’m done with the crowds, they start to leave. Fall comes, and we mostly have the island to ourselves again. Then winter brings quiet, introspection, solitude, all the broad thoughts of exploring – travel, art, music, writing. I settle into shorter days, and enjoy the peace. 

Until I don’t.

Soon it’s time to get ready for all the people again. They come back just in time, bringing all their chaos and life with them. We turn on the charm, and create loads of events, fun, and sunsets. Just for them. 😉

One sign of the season is that we hang Alison’s newest fine art photography on our gallery walls (you knew I’d get to this). Please come see her new work, and say hi to us. We’ll be open Monday – Saturday from 10am to 5pm, and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm. Or call us at 508-693-4429.

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Our Advanced Mentorship student show has been taken down from the gallery walls, but their stunning photographs can still be purchased by clicking here.  

A spring of new growth

by Sue Dawson

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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. 

SHORELINE: Around the Island of Martha’s Vineyard

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by Alison Shaw (and Sue Dawson)

HAVING MARTHA’S VINEYARD as my primary subject matter for more than 40 years certainly comes with many rewards, but also with its share of challenges. In the years that I’ve spent photographing these 100 square miles, I’ve constantly had to push myself to see the island anew. And sometimes I struggle to maintain my inspiration, creativity, momentum, and stamina, to keep shooting the same place for so long. If I lived in “America” I could simply go to the next town in search of new subject matter. Actually, I do go off-island to re-energize and shoot in other locations, and it does help. But I still have my one heart- and soul-touching muse – my island home.

So when I need to re-group, I remember one of my favorite quotes, from Marcel Proust: “The true voyage of discovery lies not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” It’s not about finding a new environment, as fun and adventurous as that can be. It’s about finding something within myself.  

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Hard to believe it’s been 10 years

by Sue Dawson

ALISON SHAW GALLERY began on July 20, 2006. Our first sale was a notecard, to Alison’s cousin’s wife, Jana. I tried to just give her the card, but she insisted on paying, so I asked for a dollar bill. It’s still in my desk drawer in the gallery, so I see that dollar every day. It’s really hard to believe it’s been there for 10 years already!

Ever since we moved into our little building in the Arts District of Oak Bluffs, we’ve been fascinated by the history of this place. In honor of our 10th anniversary, here’s some of the history we’re proud to be part of:

1914sm88 Dukes County Avenue used to be a one-engine firehouse – one of several in town, including the t-shirt shop across from Nancy’s Snack Bar (Engines 1 and 2), “Highland Hose” near the Ocean View Restaurant (on Church Avenue, Engine 3, now the home of one of our customers), and the building in town that’s now “Cottagers Corner,” which was originally Town Hall from 1882 to 1966, and over time also a police and fire station, before the Cottagers acquired it.

So let’s go all the way back to the beginning – in 1880, “Cottage City” seceded from the town of Edgartown, and established their own fire department. In 1907, the town name was officially changed to “Oak Bluffs.” Our building was built in 1914 – we found the date, along with three initials, on the shiplap upstairs that was uncovered during our renovation over 90 years later. 1914 was also, of course, the year World War I began.

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Join us this Monday, July 4th, from 10 to 2

by Sue Dawson

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PLEASE JOIN Alison Shaw Gallery and gallery josephine for 4th morning, our impromptu way of celebrating the revitalization of the Arts District in Oak Bluffs, and our newly-installed sidewalk! The highway trucks finished up today, just in time to toast the completion of our safe walkway between the Arts District and the Oak Bluffs harbor.

We’ll be open from 10am to 2pm on Monday, July 4th, serving delicious breakfast beverages, and tasty snacks. It’s a perfect way to start your morning – drinking a latte, sitting in our beautiful garden, and looking at stunning art.

We also just hung Alison’s new photo of her favorite Oak Bluffs jetty (the one on Inkwell Beach) on the main wall. We used our premium framing, with museum glass – I really love this one.

We look forward to seeing you on Monday!

Alison Shaw Gallery’s 10th anniversary season

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by Sue Dawson

WE’RE OPENING for the 2016 season tomorrow: Saturday, May 28th, between 10am and 5pm. This year promises to be different. We like to shake things up occasionally (keeps it fun for us). To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we’re hosting two parties – one on July 9th, and one on August 6th. Instead of hanging a full “show” each month, we’re going to just hang new (and retrospective) pieces when we feel like it. So the walls will be changing often. If you want to buy something right off the wall, you can take it with you. We’ll just hang a new piece in its place. We love the fluidity of being able to move things around, and hope you will too!

This summer, I’m planning to write a series of blogs about our building, which began as a one-engine firehouse. And by my count, Alison’s been a professional photographer on Martha’s Vineyard for 40 years (another milestone!), so I’ll do some posts about her too. We’re really looking forward to sharing this season with you.

A surprise for Sue

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by Sue Dawson

A FEW WEEKS ago, a really nice woman came into the gallery. Well, I didn’t know how nice she was back then. All I knew was that she was from Baltimore (her answer to my query), and since I grew up there, we started talking about our shared home. She asked me if she could bring anything the next time she visits. I got shy (this doesn’t usually happen), and said “Oh no, that’s ok, so nice of you to ask.” She responded, “No, really – if you could have anything from Baltimore, what would it be?” Without hesitation, I answered “Berger cookies. I haven’t had one for years, and you can’t get them anywhere else.”

“Done,” she said, and her friend said “She means it, you know. She really means it.” So nice. And yet, in the flow of spring and early summer, I forgot all about it…

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What a ride…

by Sue Dawson

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I THINK I’VE READ ten articles – online, and in local papers – mentioning how fast it’s felt, with Memorial Day weekend already here. New England had a rough winter, so perhaps we’re still reeling from that. I’m still drinking in the sounds and smells of the spring birds and flowers, marveling at the transformation. Or maybe it’s that the island is staying busier in the off-season, so we’re wondering if we’ll be able to fit all the summer visitors onto this rock. All I know is that the college kids are back, heavier traffic is making my errands take longer, and I gave out three of my homemade maps yesterday, showing tourists the way back to the center of town. The 2015 season has officially begun.

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Our first Advanced Mentorship show opens May 3rd

by Sue Dawson

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THERE’S ONLY ONE reason we’d open our gallery three weeks early. I complain brag about never getting even one day off during our busy season, which starts every year on Memorial Day weekend. So there’s gotta be a really good reason for me to work nonstop open our doors three weeks ahead of schedule. Lots of island businesses are pulling up the window shades, dusting off their shelves, and putting out their “OPEN” signs now, but we always wait until the big holiday weekend. Until this year.

Our first Advanced Mentorship group is affectionately known as our “guinea pigs,” since they’ve been with us since the very beginning of our Mentorship program in 2013. The culmination of their Advanced year is a group show in our gallery, for three weeks in May. From choosing what to hang, to writing an artist statement, deciding how to present their work, and creating a catalog of their photographs, they’ve worked hard and learned a lot.

The opening reception is May 3rd, from 4 to 6pm, at our gallery. The nine Advanced Mentorship members are: Gwen Norton, Doug Burke, Diane Collins, Jean Schnell, Estelle Disch, Kate Griswold, Karla Bernstein, David Matthews, and Steven Koppel. They’ll be hanging the show on the 2nd, and will all attend the reception, so you can meet them. We’re honored to be hosting such a stunning, diverse selection of work, and to be working with such a lovely group. In case you’re wondering, it’s worth my May…

Wonder what this photo means?

by Sue Dawson

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AT THIS VERY MOMENT, our lives are changing. It’s a pivotal time, as you can see from this photo…. Well … I can see it.

Give up?

Leaning next to the card tower are our “OPEN” flags for the gallery, and I just brought them in for the last time this season. You won’t see them flying outside here until next May. Until then, this space will be a teaching space (for our mentorship retreats and VIP days), a storage space (it can get a little Sanford & Son in here sometimes), a disorganized space (see me at tax time, with my teetering Jenga-esque piles of receipts and papers all over), and an inspiration space for our business. Of course, I’m happy to open the gallery for you, if you’d like to stop by. But the next time you’ll see the flags will be our Advanced Mentorship student show next May.

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