Memorial Day weekend marks the kick-off of the Vineyard summer season, and with that, visitors and locals can look forward to the multiple opportunities to check out artwork. A number of Island galleries will reopen for the season. Others will host special exhibits featuring the work of artists from the Vineyard and beyond. Then there are two annual events which traditionally attract throngs of art lovers.

The Friends of Family Planning Art Show will feature the work of dozens of local and semi-local artists working in various media, including painting, drawing, collage, photography, jewelry, fiber arts, ceramic, woodworking, and more. The artists receive 50 percent of sales, with Family Planning benefiting from the other half. The Opening Night Fundraiser and Art Show Reception on Thursday evening will offer the guests an early preview plus wine, cocktail snacks from Herring Run Kitchens, and live music by John Alaimo. The show will be open to the public on Friday and Saturday 10 to 6, and Sunday from 10 to 2. Free admission. Tickets for the Opening Gala on Thursday from 6 to 8 pm are $50, at the door.

Gallery openings, receptions, and new installations

Eisenhauer Gallery kicks off the summer season with a show featuring the work of three visiting artists with very different styles. Gallery favorite Cheri Cristensen honors her rural Washington State roots with charming oil paintings of farm animals, displaying an expert play of light and shadow.

Brand-new to the gallery, Jill Holland creates stunning abstract landscapes using mixed media. Her dreamlike images conjure up imagined vistas in vibrant colors, incorporating materials as diverse as metal leaf, spray paint, and various sculptural patinas like copper oxide. Her work has appeared on television shows and in Hollywood movies.

Also new to the Eisenhauer Gallery this year, Kenneth Peloke thinks big. His large-scale oil paintings in black-and-white and sepia tones feature close-up views of horses. His perspective is unusual, and very effective. He fills the frame with a snapshot view — a partial head and neck, a segment of a herd in full gallop — leading the viewer to focus on the animals’ grace, power, and sense of freedom. The Eisenhauer Gallery “Sugar and Spice” show reception is Saturday, May 28, from 6 to 8 pm, with refreshments and music by Jeremy Berlin.

Louisa Gould will spotlight a number of her gallery’s artists with a group show titled “Imagining Summer.” Along with artists like Paul Beebe, Donna Blackburn, and John Holladay, whom she has represented for years, the gallery will introduce a handful of newcomers. Among them are Jennifer McCurdy, who sculpts intricate ceramic pieces, nationally acclaimed fish artist Flick Ford, plein air artist Bill McLane, and Peggy Turner-Zablotny, who creates colorful botanical collage compositions.

Ms. Gould estimates that ⅞ths of the spacious gallery will be devoted to brand-new work. “The show is a really good representation of a variety of media and styles,” Ms. Gould said, “from animals and botanicals to houses, people on the beach, landscapes, and seascapes, and from high realism to abstract work.” The Louisa Gould Gallery’s “Imagining Summer” show runs from May 25 through June 28. The opening reception is Saturday, May 28, from 5 to 7 pm, with refreshments and music by Michael Haydn.

The Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse will feature the work of West Tisbury artist Leslie Baker in its lobby Art Space from May 27 to June 23. The show, titled “Raw Color,” features abstract color-block monotype prints. The artist’s reception is Saturday, May 28, from 4 to 6 pm.

A Gallery will spotlight the photos of Japanese-born movement/performance artist Eiko, along with the work of three local artists. Although the opening reception will take place on June 5, the show will be unveiled on Saturday, May 28. Eiko’s series “A Body in Fukushima” is comprised of photos of the performer posed among the ruins of the area devastated by the 2011 nuclear plant meltdown. She will present a series of performances beginning next weekend. Other work on exhibit will include Brigitte Cornand’s photos of Dumptique shoppers; Astrid Tilton’s series “Realizing Waste,” consisting of photos of trash embedded in the Vineyard landscape; and a new site-specific installation, “A Walk in the Park IV: Organic Meets Synthetic,” by Paul Lazes.

On Friday, May 27 from 2-9 pm, The Nikki Sedacca Gallery in Nevin Square will celebrate their season opening with a reception showcasing the gallery’s most popular artists from throughout the US. An extensive collection of blown glass sculpture, and other art mediums will be featured, including fine oil paintings, abstract and impressionist work, and fine jewelry.

A new gallery is set to open this weekend on Main Street, Vineyard Haven. The Behnke/Doherty Gallery will feature American and Asian art, including paintings, works on paper, ceramics, sculpture, baskets, Japanese porcelain, and woodblocks. The back room will be devoted to photos by co-owner Paul Doherty, whose work was recently the focus of a solo show at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse. Mr. Doherty and his partner David Behnke previously owned a gallery in Connecticut before moving full-time to the Vineyard three years ago. The gallery will have a “soft” opening Memorial weekend, and then a grand opening at the end of June.

Next door to the new gallery, C.B. Stark in Vineyard Haven will be celebrating 50 years in business with a party and sale on May 28 from 5 to 7 pm. There will be cake, a raffle, and everyone making a purchase during the party will receive a free gift. The iconic jewelry store, which opened in a small artisan’s stall on Memorial Day weekend in 1976, will also be introducing its latest designs — four new charms to add to its perpetually popular line.

The party coincides with the first of Vineyard Haven’s Saturday Strolls, so expect live music, special sales, and other happenings up and down Main Street.

-By Gwyn McAllister, Martha's Vineyard Times, May 25th, 2016