Head over to the Eisenhauer Gallery this weekend for a celebratory art opening with refreshments and live music in the courtyard. For the past two years, although the popular gallery in Edgartown remained open, the semiweekly openings were put on hold, until now. This weekend will mark the 23rd year that the landmark gallery will host a Memorial Day weekend kickoff exhibit, featuring new work by three of their established artists along with a roster of others, including four artists new to the gallery this year.
“The Memorial Day opening is near and dear to my heart,” says owner Elizabeth Eisenhauer. “We see the second-home owners who have been supporting the gallery for years. Everybody is out and about. It’s a homecoming of sorts.”
The long-running Music in the Courtyard series will kick off Saturday with a concert by Mike Benjamin, Joanne Cassidy, and others, when guests can sip on white sangria while perusing the gallery’s extensive collection of contemporary work. The concerts are every Thursday at the courtyard, always featuring popular Island musicians.
The featured artists for the opening show will be Rob Brooks, Michel Brousseau, and Cheri Christensen. Each of these painters, who have garnered a following among art patrons on the Island and beyond, has a distinctive style and choice of subject matter.
Brooks captures iconic American scenes in a style he describes as social realism. Selecting snapshots of moments in time, Brooks captures the essence of a place through something as simple as a colorful beach ball left behind after a day of fun, with a setting sun illuminating the sky in the background, or the iconic ice machine at the Menemsha dock, fronting a view of the harbor and rock jetty. With each scene a familiar object makes the landscape or seascape personal and immediate. The gallery website describes Brooks as an artist whose “work could be called Modern Americana, and it focuses on urban scenes, seascapes, contemporary icons, and, in his words, ‘kitsch.’”
Michel Brousseau, who was born and raised in France, similarly uses simple objects to evoke a time and place. His sole focus, however, is on nautical subjects. Brousseau’s love of the sea and ships is evident in his paintings of things like sections of windblown sails, buoys hanging against a shingled wall, or a weathered red ship’s lantern. His style is akin to realism, but graphic in nature. In his artist’s bio, Brousseau writes, “Maybe I prefer the maritime places, objects, and artifacts of the sea culture to the sea itself, because I can tame and control them.” For the Eisenhauer Gallery, the awardwinning artist has created a series of paintings described as “dedicated to the Island’s nostalgic charm.”
Capturing another aspect of Island life, Cheri Christensen has chosen barnyard animals as her point of reference. Geese, roosters, ducklings, cows, goats, and pigs populate Christensen’s artistic realm, captured close-up in their natural environment. In a semi-impressionist style, she uses quick, bold brushstrokes, animating her subjects and evoking the vibrant farm life of the Island. “I prefer early morning light or late afternoon settings, with extreme backlighting,” writes Christensen in her artist’s statement. “My focus is on the farm animals, their character, and the use of color, light, and texture to convey a mood.”
Along with the featured artists, Eisenhauer will be showing new work by dozens of others, including four individuals new to the gallery. Adair Peck creates figurative, semiabstract images in both paintings and mixed-media wall-mounted sculptural pieces, executed with a keen eye for color and form.
Cecil Touchon takes a graphic approach to her paintings, featuring letters, symbols, and geometric shapes in black and white or bold colors.
Sage Tucker-Ketcham’s focus is on barns and houses rendered as simple, pared-down structures, providing the only linear element in lush, evocative, almost dreamlike landscapes.
Lily Sol has created a multicultural world in her series “Flower Goddess,” encompassing colorful portraits of women, which she describes as “honoring the divine feminine energy within us all.” Using color, form, and decorative elements very effectively in her mixed-media work, Sol presents bold, highly stylistic, appealing images that display the human spectrum in all of its vivid variety.
The introduction of these new artists adds further dimension to the gallery’s already rich tapestry of unique and varied work.
-By Gwyn McAllister, Martha’s Vineyard Times, May 25, 2022