Cheri Christensen’s No Country for Old Cows sits on a wall in Eisenhauer Gallery in Edgartown. True to the name, it’s a painting of cattle. But the artist’s use of light, a faint yellow outline around her subjects, gives the cows an aura of majesty, as if rays of the setting sun chose only to fall on them.
It was the Monday before Elizabeth Eisenhauer’s eighth annual Memorial Day exhibit, and the gallery owner took a moment to play with the lights. As the room dimmed, the backlight behind the middle cow became more pronounced and the mood of the piece changed.
“This is how I seduce the buyers,” Ms. Eisenhaurer said, laughing.
She often uses unusual methods to stand out from the rest of the Vineyard galleries.
“We try to do something that makes people remember us,” Ms. Eisenhauer said. “Collecting art can be staid and formal and this gallery tries to make it emotional and lively.”
Consider her presentation in 2004, for the gallery’s Go Figure exhibit of the human body: Ms. Eisenhauer placed large mirrors around the room so visitors could get a look at their own figures as they walked past. She’s had rock-and-roll in the courtyard in front of her gallery; this summer, her Thursday Night Music Series will kick off on June 26 with Mike Benjamin and continue through the season with musicians including Taurus Biskis and Don Groover.
Later this summer, Ms. Eisenhauer plans to have an international exhibit, in which she will feature works she’s encountered in her travels, to places like India and France. She wants to pair paintings with wines that represent the artists and their various countries.
“It’s like falling in love,” Ms. Eisenhauer said of setting the right mood. Meeting someone through a personal in the paper, she explained, wouldn’t be as romantic as finding them on the dance floor. That’s what she wants to do with buyers and the art in her gallery.
For her opening on Sunday, Ms. Eisenhauer will have live music and a cocktail concoction she calls Lynchburg lemonade. The exhibit will feature the works of Fred Calleri, Karen Tusinski, Michele Dangelo and Ms. Christensen.
The four artists have very different styles. Ms. Christensen’s impressionistic portrayals of barnyard animals sit next to Ms. Tusinski’s contemporary still lifes of flowers bending out of their pots. Visitors will be able to walk from the button-nosed figures that comprise Mr. Calleri’s often light-hearted pieces to the bright, abstract structures that sit lonely in Ms. Dangelo’s prairies.
Part of the brilliance of Mr. Calleri’s pieces is in their titles. They serve sometimes as light punchlines. In one piece a red-nosed skinny fisher-boy stands ankle-deep in water, holding his pole in one hand and a small fish in the other. It’s title: As Big as a Whale.
Other times his titles are simply descriptions of the scene or even lines of a song. In every case, they complete the piece.
“I’m finding that the general public really has a need for some light-hearted work in this day and this time,” Mr. Calleri said from his home in Arizona. He explained that even though he likes to make people smile with his work, he wants to get away from the button red noses. “I don’t want them to be so clown-like in the future.”
By Alexander Trowbridge, The Vineyard Gazette