Night Heron Gallery in Vineyard Haven, an artists’ cooperative on Main street that began as a holiday pop-up in 2009, will close its doors at the end of this year.

Lisa Strachan, one of the 10 Martha’s Vineyard artists who opened the gallery in 2010, said no one envisioned a 13-year run when they first signed a lease with property owner Larry Levine.

“We thought, one year... I never imagined it would go on so long,” recalled Ms. Strachan Wednesday morning at the gallery, where she was joined by co-founders Washington Ledesma and Kathleen Tackabury.

Open house is Dec. 22 from 4 to 7 p.m. — Ray Ewing

The late Mr. Levine, and now his daughter, have been good landlords and supportive of the gallery as an Island arts organization, Ms. Strachan said. Night Heron is closing because a majority of its artists — who number 11 in all, including six of the original members — want more time for their creative pursuits, said Ms. Tackabury, an established Island jewelry designer who is expanding her repertoire.

“I’m going to be working more in sculpture, and [Ms. Strachan] is working more in sculpture now,” Ms. Tackabury said.

Although the gallery is ending, Ms. Strachan and many of the artists will continue to show at the Vineyard Artisans Festivals in West Tisbury, where a number of Night Heron founders first became friends in the last century.

“I’ve known Washington for more than 33 years,” said Ms. Strachan, who was still in her teens when she met and befriended Mr. Ledesma.

“We definitely had deep relationships before we went into a business venture, and I think that really made a big difference,” said Ms. Strachan, who works in ceramic and copper.

Over the years, more than 20 Island artists have been part of the Night Heron co-op, though not all have been Artisans Festival exhibitors, Ms. Strachan said.

The gallery has always sought to include a range of artists, styles and media, she added, including jewelry, ceramics, fine art and crafts.

“We wanted to have a nice balance, so we were always aware of not having more than two jewelers, two this, two that,” Ms. Tackabury said.

Taylor Stone, a younger Islander creating cut-paper illustrations, joined the gallery in 2020, an invitation-only process juried by the member artists.

“I loved Night Heron, so it was a huge deal for me to get the invite,” Ms. Stone told the Gazette by phone. “It felt like I had made it to another level in my business.”

The cooperative gallery opened in 2009.

But the business of art has been changing, said Ms. Stone, who has a website to market her artwork and hasn’t been looking for another gallery.

“The co-op started 13 years ago in a very different world when there weren’t as many resources [for artists] ... I think that’s why we feel okay with this decision now,” she said.

“We are all still thriving and working and creating, and this is an opportunity for the 11 of us... to continue doing that, instead of putting our brain into curating a space and running a business,” Ms. Stone added.

Sitting behind the gallery’s sales counter, Ms. Strachan said she’s looking forward to having more time for her art. Night Heron members each commit to staffing the gallery 24 hours a month, and that’s not including the behind-the-scenes business chores.

“We’ve bent over backward and poured our hearts into this, so we can’t have it be a sad ending,” she said. “It has to be positive.”

The gallery remains open through the holidays, with an open house — its first since before the pandemic — on Dec. 22 from 4 to 7 p.m.

“We haven’t had a party in so long,” Ms. Tackabury said.

The celebration will include a drawing for the gallery’s annual charity raffle prize: a gift basket filled with the artists’ creations.

Proceeds from raffle ticket sales will benefit the Davin A. Tackabury Memorial Scholarship for the Arts in honor of Ms. Tackabury’s late son, a promising photographer who died in 2019 at age 17.

It’s too soon to say what will take the gallery’s place at 58 Main street, next door to Island Music. But Ms. Tackabury said she’d like another artist-run co-op to arise somewhere on Martha’s Vineyard.

“I hope to see something like that in the future, and for people to be encouraged by this,” she said.