LunaSea: a new outlet for local artists
In creating LunaSea, the latest art gallery to open on Block Island, Sheilah Hickock has committed herself to showcasing an eclectic range of art and hand crafted items. Located on Chapel Street in the back of the New Shoreham House, Hickock’s new establishment provides a venue in which local artisans working in a variety of media may offer their art at affordable prices. Reflecting the vastly different styles and experience of the artists and crafts-persons featured, the work on exhibition is drawn from beginners to seasoned professionals.
The name she selected, LunaSea, actually evolved when she realized “it was lunacy for me to open a business at this time.” Searching about for words evoking nature and a beach community, she came up with images of the moon and the ocean — LunaSea — that incidentally suggested the quirky nature of her venture.
Hickock says part of her focus is “to recycle, renew and to be eco-friendly.” To that end, she is attracted to those who use and reuse materials. Two sisters, Jamie and Jessie Edward, fall into that category — with Jamie making bracelets from reprocessed vinyl record albums, hair pieces of a variety of silk and vintage sheet music and otherwise reusing feathers and buttons in her work.
Her sister Jessie makes wallets, wrist bands and cell phone holders using recyclables — leather, suede and canvas — and refurbishing them. Hannah Gasner also uses reclaimed resources in her work, crafting patches and bracelets from recycled plastic bags. Jewelry maker April Sieltzky produces rings and other pieces made of recycled copper, sea glass, semi-precious gems and fresh water pearls.
The work of another set of sisters, Maggie Pennoyer and Carrie Pennoyer Kipperman, is prominently on display at LunaSea. Carrie’s clothing line includes women’s and children’s T-shirts, beach covers and shorts, as well as tote bags that are all hand-sewn, pre-shrunk and use island images.
Maggie creates hand-thrown pottery that includes cork jars, earring holders, planters and Block Island mugs, the latter of which Hickock says are very popular.
From nautical to whimsical
Among the work of experienced artists, Ted Merritt’s paintings stake out several colorful spaces on the walls of the small gallery. Working in acrylics and using a varying palette, Merritt often creates abstractions depicting a nautical theme. On the other hand, Jon Campbell, a folk singer well-known on the island, “does whimsical paintings,” Hickock says, “and tongue–in-cheek designs.”
In the genre of photography, the gallery shows work by Lisa Sprague, G. W. Sweetnam and Ayla Shade. “There are many creative people on the island who are busy doing what they have to do to make a living,” Hickock observes. Here, finally, is a place to spotlight their work.
Among the works being offered are also the paintings of Andrew Randall, an artist featured in the recently released book “The Art of Autism.” Pointing to some of the artistry of his grandfather Al Barker, Hickock says Randall comes from a family of artists.
An example of an unusual medium that Hickock calls attention to is the work of Joyce Lorman, who does designs of starfish and shells on crushed glass in resin.
Hickock’s arrangement with those exhibiting with her is to share in a percentage of their sales. She points out she openly shares information that gives customers direct access to the artists who have chosen to show with her.
Hickock has put up a Facebook page to highlight the artists she represents. She adds that on Thursday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. throughout the summer, she will host an art festival on the patio behind her gallery. She says she wants artists to know that she is interested in promoting their work and wants the public to realize there is some exciting work for them to view and consider purchasing at very reasonable prices.