Fish fill Gould Gallery for Derby

Galleries : Fish fill Gould Gallery for Derby

By Brooks Robards
Published: September 17, 2009

Marthas' Vineyard Times

Starting next weekend, an array of fish-oriented art will festoon the walls of Louisa Gould's Vineyard Haven gallery. For the third year in a row, the exhibit Sporting Art - Art of the Derby will celebrate the annual Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. "It's interesting that all the artists who are participating are also sportsman," Ms. Gould says. "It creates a sense of camaraderie." She hopes this year to include hunting art as well.

Jeffrey P'an, Martha's VineyardGlass artist Jeffrey P'an displays his glass fish at the upcoming exhibit at Louisa Gould Gallery, Sporting Art - Art of the Derby. Photos by Ralph Stewart

A reception on Saturday, Sept. 26, from 5 to 7 will officially launch the exhibit, a portion of which is currently on display. Author David Kinney will be there to sign copies of his book about the Derby, "The Big One: An Island, an Obsession and the Furious Pursuit of a Great Fish."

Janet Messineo, a Vineyard Haven taxidermist, will display her mounted saltwater game fish. Ms. Messineo, who studied at the Pennsylvania School of Taxidermy, removes and mounts fish skins by hand, as opposed to making fiberglass reproductions, a more common practice. Striped bass are her specialty, and each fish takes a year to mount.

Janet Messineo, Martha's VineyardTaxidermist Janet Messineo specializes in mounted striped bass, which take a year to complete.

Ms. Messineo also makes earrings and pins from freeze-dried minnows that she lacquers and paints. According to Ms. Gould, the minnow pins are popular for wearing on lapels or Derby hats.

Anesthesiologist Steve London of Oak Bluffs will show his fish prints on rice paper. He employs the Japanese art of Gyotaku, which he learned in Hawaii at the Hui No'eau Visual Arts Center. Dating back to the mid-1800s, the method is used to create a record of the fisherman's catch. Dr. London paints fish with a non-toxic tint, which is then transferred onto the paper by rubbing the fish against it. Afterwards, he paints in the fish's eye.

Brian Kirkpatrick of Oak Bluffs will display cigar boxes decorated with fish in vivid colors, as well as his whimsical acrylic paintings of fish. Last month, Mr. Kirkpatrick made news for relaying his painting depicting Barack Obama with a rooster to the president through an aide, according to the Cape Cod Times.

Falmouth printmaker Jane Fay Baker will put her black-and-white woodcuts of fish on display. Known for his sporting art landscapes, Peter Corbin of Millbrook, N.Y., will also participate in the show. Among the other exhibitors are H. Gray Park IV, a Gould regular from Connecticut, who will show his oil paintings of fishing scenes; and Luther Kelley Hall, also from Connecticut, who has gained an international reputation for his saltwater and fly fishing paintings and magazine illustrations.

Ms. Gould, also an artist and photographer, will display multimedia pieces with a fishing theme. "I paint with a computer," she says, explaining her process of transforming her photographs into print-paintings on canvases. The software she uses allows her to mix her own colors and select a variety of brush sizes.

Ms. Gould served as official Derby photographer for the past three years. As a cost-cutting measure, the Derby eliminated the position this year in favor of disposable cameras. Ms. Gould continues to offer fishermen portraits of their catches, but she will take time off this coming weekend, when she will marry her fiancé, J. B. Lamont, a film editor from Edgartown.

The wedding also caused Ms. Gould to opt out of participating in the Derby. In 2007, she achieved a Derby Grand Slam, awarded for catching a false albacore, bluefish, bonito and striped bass. Out of 3,000 registrants that year, only 75 won Grand Slams, and Ms. Gould's took 14th in weight. "That's when I got the nod from the old-timers," she says.

Ms. Gould appears in Mr. Kinney's book, "The Big One." When she found out the New Jersey author was trying to research his account of Martha's Vineyard's annual fishing event without registering, she warned him, "Unless you are registered and weighing in fish, you will not get it." He took her advice.

In explaining how she photographs Derby fish, Ms. Gould says, "You never know what Mother Nature is going to come up with. You always have to be ready." This year's Derby, which began September 13, runs for 35 days until October 17.

When working as official Derby photographer, Ms. Gould stayed close to the weigh-in station in Edgartown, warning dinner companions that she might have to leave before the main course. She remembers one albacore that was so shiny she had a hard time capturing its markings.

"I try to catch the whole sense of the Island during that time," Ms. Gould says. A dedicated fisherman, she has found she can't fish and photograph at the same time.

Describing an "alby" blitz that would have been perfect for fishing or photographing, she says, "I was immobilized. I didn't know whether to cast or to shoot."

"Each derby has its own particular weather pattern," Ms. Gould says. She would not comment on how the fishing is this year, but she did say, "I know they're not catching if I see them in the gallery."

Sporting Art - Art of the Derby, opening reception, 5 to 7 pm, Saturday, Sept. 26, Louisa Gould Gallery, Vineyard Haven. Book signing with David Kinney, author of "The Big One."

Brooks Robards writes on art, film, books, and theater for The Martha's Vineyard Times.

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