The Gay Head Gallery sees itself as more than just a place to display art. Instead, Megan Ottens-Sargent, the gallery’s owner, has reinvented the space in the past few years to give it a mission. Specifically, one of environmental activism.

“The whole idea is that art can connect people to the issues,” said Ms. Ottens-Sargent. “What we aim to do is to promote environmental nonprofits and build their networks by inspiring our clients to take action.”

It's all about art and wildlife at the Gay Head Gallery. — Jeanna Shepard

In this spirit, the gallery will host an event on Wednesday, August 19, from 5 to 7 p.m. to raise awareness for the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group with aims similar to those of the gallery. The event, which is framed as an art show with a policy component, will include remarks by Kierán Suckling, the executive director of the center, about what can be done to combat climate change and protect endangered species.

Much of the art on display during the show will focus on vulnerable animals, but in keeping with the idea of a diverse display, the gallery has works ranging from photos taken by National Geographic photographers to highly interpretative and modern paintings.

“There’s kind of a contrast when you have beautiful photographs of the ocean but then a really emotive picture of a wolf,” said Ms. Ottens-Sargent. “It’s a juxtaposition so that people will get a feel for the broader environment within which these threatened species are trying to survive.”

Some of the proceeds of the sales will go to the Center for Biological Diversity if the artist requests it. But even if the sale of art isn’t giving the center a direct financial benefit, part of the reason Ms. Ottens-Sargent wants to host the evening is to give the public a chance to better understand active environmental organizations and important causes taking place both on and off the Vineyard.

Animals in the art, animals in the gallery. — Jeanna Shepard

“Ultimately it’s about using the art event to try and educate people about the nonprofit we have or actions they can take,” said Ms. Ottens-Sargent. “We want people to learn about these policy issues that are before Congress.”

In that sense, the event is a more cooperative one, according to Ms. Ottens-Sargent, who sees it as a way for different organizations like the Gay Head Gallery and the Center for Biological Diversity to join together and tackle a problem. The main issue for this event, endangered species, is one that Ms. Ottens-Sargent feels does not typically get as much time as it deserves. And Mr. Suckling is inclined to agree.

“Extinction is the most pressing problem we face because extinction is forever,” said Mr. Suckling in a recent phone interview with the Gazette. “If we don’t clean up our air and our water, then hopefully the next generation can do a better job than us, but extinction is permanent.”

To this end, Mr. Suckling will direct his remarks during the evening towards the need to protect species against threats like habitat destruction, climate change and pollution by humans, especially in places as rich with biological diversity as Martha’s Vineyard. The issue cuts especially deep for Mr. Suckling who has ties to the Cape that he credits for inspiring an interest in conservation.

“This is where I first fell in love with endangered species and understood their importance,” he said. “So I’m excited to be back.”

Ultimately, this marriage between art and activism is what Ms. Ottens-Sargent is hoping to accomplish, and what Mr. Suckling thinks could provide the push the center is looking for to encourage people to get involved with the environmentalist movement.

“The way forward is to find a way to feel that we are one part of a bigger biological community,” said Mr. Suckling. “And art is the real way to touch the human soul and start the conversation about these issues.”

The Gay Head Gallery is located at 32 State Road in Aquinnah. Visit