If two is company and three is a crowd, it might follow that 10 is chaos.

But if the 10 in question are the group of artists behind the Night Heron Gallery, the newest addition to Vineyard Haven’s formidable Main street lineup, the more appropriate word would be “community.”

Featuring works by Island artists Ingrid Goff-Maidoff, Ann Howes, Washington Ledesma, Whitney Moody, Beldan Radcliffe, Diana Stewart, Lisa Strachan, Kathy Tackabury, Nick Thayer and Carolyn Warren, the gallery has gone from being a vague idea to a reality in just three months, in no small part because of the cooperative spirit driving the endeavor.

The spirit was on display Tuesday afternoon as the 10 artists met in the soon-to-be gallery to plan for a small pre-opening gathering. As if to underline the inherent democracy behind Night Heron’s inception, they sit in a circle on the floor tossing ideas back and forth — the Round Table without the furniture.

“We’re all rooting for each other and supporting each other,” said Ms. Tackabury.

In December of 2010, the group hosted its annual gift gallery in the store space (formerly Trader Jack’s) between the Shaw Cramer Gallery and Island Music on Main street. For the artists, all of whom have individual booths in the summer Artisans’ Festivals and flea markets, the chance to come together to exhibit works was a welcome change.

“We said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could do this year-round?’” said Ms. Strachan in an interview with the Gazette.

“We’ve been saying that for a long time,” added Ms. Goff-Maidoff.

Upon learning that the store space was available — Trader Jack’s having relocated to Oak Bluffs — the group made its move. And after spending the winter tearing out dressing rooms, repainting walls and brushing up on carpentry skills, the already close-knit group is tighter than ever and the gallery is nearly set for its debut.

“We had demolition parties and paint parties,” laughed Ms. Goff-Maidoff. “It doesn’t happen overnight.”

Nor does a gallery opening happen simply based on the artists’ efforts. Spouses and families were recruited to the cause — and to the paint parties — prompting the group to host its unofficial gallery opening this Friday “celebrating the support [they] gave us,” in Ms. Strachan’s words. The grand opening will be held in July.

Family support came in more subtle forms as well: Mrs. Radcliffe’s husband, David, coined the gallery’s name. The team hoped to use a moniker evoking both nature — one of the main sources of inspiration for the artists — and the Vineyard spirit, but in a rare instance of chaos, could not agree on just the right appellation.

Night Heron, however, resonated with each and every person.

With an impressive variety of works on display in the gallery, it seems almost certain Night Heron will resonate with the public as well. Each artist brings her (in the cases of Mr. Thayer and Mr. Ledesma, his) specialty — ranging from watercolors and porcelain wares to jewelry, fiber arts, poetry books, prints and etchings — to the space. That the products come straight from their creator with no middleman involved means that prices are kept affordable, while the move to a nonseasonal location keeps works accessible throughout the year (all of the artists will also continue to exhibit works at their usual summer haunts).

“It’s nice to have work available on a year-round basis,” said Ms. Strachan.

Having fixed year-round premises offers other opportunities as well, chief among them the freedom to try artwork different from what their regular clients might expect at an artisans’ fair. Ms. Strachan plans to exhibit stoneware works in addition to her porcelain creations, while Mr. Thayer, known for his painted ceramics, will show paintings and etchings. Mrs. Radcliffe, a printmaker herself, is starting a new line of ‘upcycled’ sweaters — wearable art.

“This is our leap of faith,” said Ms. Tackabury.


The Night Heron Gallery will host a pre-opening gathering on Friday, April 1 from 5 to 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend.