An early evening breeze brushes past the foliage embracing the walls of a seemingly ordinary home in Aquinnah. Closer inspection, however, reveals the dark-rusted head of a metallic dragon crouching in the shrubbery. Welcome to the Gay Head Gallery, where abstract ideas are presented in a gloriously tangible reality.
Last Sunday, Megan Ottens-Sargent opened the doors of her home and gallery to host a new exhibit entitled The Abstract Wild: Wilderness Lost? which runs through Sept. 2. The opening night event benefited Defenders of Wildlife and the exhibit features numerous artists including John Nickerson Athearn, Jennifer Christy, Barbara Norfleet, Enos Ray and Matthew Smith. Several of the artists attended the opening of the exhibition, including abstract artist Jennifer Christy, who was accompanied by her husband and three children.
“They really appreciate my art and give me good criticism,” Mrs. Christy said of her children. “Kids are blunt, so they’ll look at my work and just say ‘That color looks like dirt or poop.’I don’t have to guess what they’re thinking.”
The theme of the evening, however, constituted far more than just color.
“This may be the widest variety of styles and pieces I’ve ever put on display,” said Ms. Ottens-Sargent. “We’ve got some great abstract pieces alongside lobsters and blues and jazz art. Somehow it works together. It’s a diverse collection.”
The exhibit was also being used to help promote a cause.
“When we talk about protecting the environment we’re not always talking about climate change, we’re also talking about protecting wildlife and habitat,” said Ms. Ottens-Sargent. “Defenders of Wildlife is pretty much what they do most exquisitely.”
Defenders of Wildlife has been dedicated to national conservation since 1947, primarily focusing on wildlife and habitat conservation while simultaneously looking after biodiversity. Their aim has always been “to protect and restore imperilled species throughout North America by transforming policies and institutions and promoting innovative solutions.”
Both the Gay Head Gallery and Defenders of Wildlife are striving to change the conservation conversation, preferring to target tangible goals, be it an art exhibition or a piece of legislation prohibiting the use of poisonous pesticides, instead of stagnating on economic and climate change crises that have been polarized by the media.
Guest speaker Michael Senator, vice president of Conservation Law at Defenders of Wildlife, said that, “so often, agencies become captives of the industries they’re meant to regulate.”
Enos Ray, one of the artists in the exhibit, illustrated the value of determination when commenting on his own work ethic.
“The question to ask is not when I start [painting] but when do I stop,” he said. “The answer is, I try not to. I need to paint every day or else my mind flips.”
It’s an investment in future satisfaction, and one that generations to come will hopefully continue to appreciate. Only perseverance can ensure that an abstract wilderness remains a future reality.
Abstract Wild: Wilderness Lost? continues at Gay Head Gallery from August 10 to Sept. 2.