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MVCVA Gallery April 2018-5492.jpg

The Artists at the MVCVA Gallery 2018

Martha's Vineyard Center for the Visual Arts

History of the Galaxy Gallery and the MVCVA

The MVCVA started in 1990. There was a meeting of all artists on the Vineyard who wanted to participate in promoting the arts and artists of the island. Quite a group assembled at Wintertide (a great place at the five corners in Vineyard Haven). Tony Lombardi was our host. It was exciting and confusing and a wonderful start.

Over the next year or two, we had to rumble and tumble and settle down to what turned out to be Featherstone Art Center (land and buildings donated by Mary Stevens) and the MVCVA - a group of artists and art lovers who struck out on their own to help artists to be seen. We begged for spaces to show art and summoned artists to 'Holiday Shows' in empty store fronts and bank lobbies. You name it, we did it.

We also published an annual 'Arts Directory' with every artist on the Vineyard who wanted to be listed - every gallery, a list of events and shows and a big double page map showing the location of the galleries.  We all pitched in and sold ads to pay for the directory. 


In the mid 1990s we learned that the Town of OB was going to sell the little firehouse on Dukes County Avenue.  We rallied anyone who was in our group and would step up to the plate as a buyer.  AND we were able to buy the firehouse - and it became the Firehouse Gallery (now the Alison Shaw Gallery). We all signed the mortgage note.  We were so happy and energetic and enthusiastic about art, artists and getting people to come and participate in whatever we were doing.  We had guest artists who came and told their stories (Stan Murphy and Margo Datz were just two of the artists I remember). We gave classes upstairs and shows downstairs and we were so busy promoting artists and all the other business that happened along the way.

Our ART community was growing.  Dragonfly Gallery was going strong and Judy Hartford opened Red Manequin across the street.  Judy Drew was in her studio gallery and Michael Hunter opened Picnic a little down the way.  It was a thrilling time.  Bradley Memorial was still on the corner of Masonic and Dukes Avenue. Nothing was going to stop us.

The MVCVA decided to sell the Firehouse Gallery to an artist for a VERY reasonable price. We put it out for bids. There were only a few offers and we chose Alison Shaw because we thought she would be the best and most viable person to keep the gallery going. We were right.  

Over the years, many things have changed, but we continue to encourage artists to show their work and we provided a place for them to show. Many artists have become well known, their work purchased and loved by our community.  We have worked together in a cooperative effort and we all feel like we have done something spectacular. We have promoted exhibits, have had fun Art Strolls and the annual Island Yard Art Sale. In the past we have given grants to struggling artists who needed help to get launched.  It has been a very interesting and wonderful time stretching out over decades. 

Holly Alaimo became our executive director, after she closed her own Dragonfly Gallery. Her ideas, energy and guidance have shepherded the Galaxy Gallery into the vibrant showcase it is today. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us with an email or phone call.

This short history was written by Renee Balter


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