by Alison Shaw
I JUST DUSTED OFF some old binders of medium-format transparencies, did a little digging, made a few calculations, and realized I’ve been photographing the work of stonemason Lew French for nearly 25 years. Wow, talk about time flying. In the course of those 25 years Lew and I have spent countless hours together, traveled many thousands of miles to photograph his work, completed two book projects, and he even built a wonderful beach stone fireplace in our old Farm Pond house.
I’m proud to announce the launch of our second book together, Sticks and Stones, at our gallery this Saturday, August 6, 5:00-7:00pm. Lew and I will be there to meet you and sign books.
Our first book together, Stone by Design, was published in 2007. Every single photo was shot on Martha’s Vineyard, where Lew had created all of his master stonework and gardens. Nearly 35,000 copies sold, and the book really put him on the map as not just a craftsman, but as an artist. CBS Sunday Morning did a fabulous segment about Lew, he’s been piling up awards and honors for his work, and he now has fans all over the world.
As a result, Lew’s not just a Martha’s Vineyard stonemason anymore. His well-deserved reputation has far exceeded the shores of the Island. So the stonework that graces the pages of Sticks and Stones took us to places like Brazil, the Adirondacks, Maine, Washington DC, Cape Cod and Boston.
My most memorable trip for this book was, without a doubt, my trip to Brazil in January 2015. I left the Island in near-zero temperatures, and photographed “sea smoke” on the ferry trip across Vineyard Sound (caused by frigid air meeting slightly warmer water). You might need to “like” my Facebook page to see the video below:
by Sue Dawson
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!
Photo by Eli Dagostino
Reporter Mollie Doyle and photographer Eli Dagostino spent a day with Alison, and produced this wonderful article in the MV Times. We had just moved to our new home, and this was the last day we had in our old house – where our family lived for 30 years. What a day…
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.
by Sue Dawson
EVER WANTED to do a workshop with Alison? This year, there are four locations to choose from. Alison loves teaching, and has been doing it for decades. The workshops are a great way to immerse yourself in photography for 3 to 7 days, and really get inspired creatively. You’ll learn tips and techniques, make new friends, and take some awesome photos. Click each location for more info.
by Sue Dawson
IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR. The holidays. But this year it’s also the time we’re filling the 12 available spots in our 6-month Mentorship. The past two years we’ve started the Mentorship at the beginning of November. But things got all mucked up with the holidays, to be honest. Between turkey and shopping and wrapping and cooking and cleaning and baking and doing it over and over again several times in one month, we were exhausted. So this year, we’ve decided to start the Mentorship on January 4th, and jump into the new year well-fed and ready to focus.
I’ve been reading through the Mentorship Facebook group page, past emails, and worksheets our students have submitted, and I came across this great quote, that I placed over one of the author’s gorgeous photos:
by Sue Dawson
I ASKED ALISON about the new photo on our main wall, called Rock Harbor II 2014. We’ve printed it as a large canvas, and we just hung it for tomorrow’s opening reception, for our third show this season of Alison’s newest work. It’s such a stunning, painterly image, I’ll have to convince people that this is a photograph. This is one I’d like to hang in our own house. Here’s what she said:
“I took this shot last fall, right before teaching a workshop for the South Shore Camera Club on the Cape. I had just done tests comparing the new Nikon D810 and my old D700. Being the picky, in-search-of-high-quality person that I am, I test all of the new equipment that comes along. I’m really frugal, but whenever I find something worth the leap, I’ll be first in line with my credit card at B&H. As soon as I ascertained that the 810 produced images with much higher quality, I ordered it. My new toy arrived the day before I left for the Cape – I was like a kid in a candy shop.
by Sue Dawson
I ASKED ALISON about the new photo on our main wall, called Oak Bluffs 2015. We’ve printed it as a large canvas, and we just hung it for tomorrow’s opening reception, for our second show this season of Alison’s newest work. It’s mesmerizing – it looks like it’s just floating on the wall. Here’s what she said:
“That’s the direction I’m going in now – a more muted palette, fewer primary colors. It doesn’t have to be dawn or dusk for me anymore. I used to look for a stronger color palette, which you’ll find early or late in the day. But now I’m watching for the really subtle things that are happening. Quiet things, like the two different flat calms going on in the water in this shot. I love the height of the tide – almost covering the rocks, with just a few of them poking through. If you could see all of the rocks, it’d be really seaweedy, really messy-looking. This just gives you a hint of the rocks.
It’s a location that’s so subtle, you’d never stop and take a touristy picture there. It’d never be subject matter that you’d hear, “Oh, honey, let’s stop and take a picture.” I feel like what I’m looking for now is something that’s evocative, but understated – something I think is beautiful, but not in an obvious way. A scene where a little change of light, wind direction, wind velocity, the tide, will make me screech to the side of the road, get out my camera, and ignore my appointments for a half hour.
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…
Wayne Smith’s photograph of a fisherman at Wasque, where blues are running like they were in the ’70s.
by Sue Dawson
ALISON’S BEEN TEACHING week-long workshops on Martha’s Vineyard since the mid-1980s. They were first hosted by Atlanta’s Southeastern Center for the Arts (owner Neil Chaput then moved to Montana, where he founded Rocky Mountain School of Photography). Classes were held in a different place every year – even in Alison’s living room. Those were the days of shooting with film cameras, so Alison had an assistant who dropped off at least 50 rolls of film at the airport each morning, so they could be flown to Logan Airport, driven by courier to a lab in Boston, and rush-processed. He or she would pick up yesterday’s processed film – now slides – and bring them back to the group each day. No one knew for sure how their images would look, until they saw the slides. Students “bracketed” their shots, meaning that they shot multiple images of the same thing at different exposures, to increase the chances of getting a good one. When the slides came in, they’d be spread out on a light table, the best shots chosen, and loaded into a slide projector for group critiques.
Things are so different now…