It’s hard to pinpoint the best label to suit Louisa Gould. Is she a photographer, a painter, a business consultant or a sailor? She’s worked on Wall Street, photographed the Olympics and multiple sailing events and worked as a videographer. But this weekend, Ms. Gould will play the part of gallery owner, as she celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Louisa Gould Gallery, a fixture of the Vineyard Haven art community.
This evening she will introduce a new art show called Summer Celebration: Salon of Gallery Artists to celebrate her legacy in Vineyard Haven.
Ms. Gould has owned a gallery on Main street since 2007. Before moving to Main street, she owned a small gallery on Beach street extension, near the water in Vineyard Haven. At first, she exclusively showed her own work, but soon other artists asked her to represent them and her business grew out of its space. The new space, on foot-traffic-friendly Main street, has four times the area of her original gallery, with plenty of wall space to hang art, and ample floor space for visitors to step back and contemplate the work.
Growing up, Ms. Gould spent every summer sailing with her family on the Island. “Before I even had memories, I was sailing,” she said. “That was just what we did in my family. We went to church and we sailed wooden boats.”
She showed promise as a visual artist in grade school and was encouraged to apply to art school at age 17, but her heart wasn’t in it. “I knew [art] was a gift, so I promised to do something with it later in life,” she said. “I promised I would do it, just not now.”
After graduating with a degree in political science and Chinese from the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., Ms. Gould worked as a banker on Wall Street, and took art classes at Parsons, The New School for Design and the Art Students League of New York.
“I was the only one showing up in a suit,” she said. “When I would come home, my roommate could tell I had been at art class. I’d deny it, but he always knew. I was happy. I was at peace. If doing something gives you that much joy, people can tell.”
At the time, she began racing competitively in Long Island Sound. When given the opportunity to compete with America’s Cup Team in New Zealand, she left Wall Street and travelled the world, sailing competitively. When she came home she thought, “What about that art thing?” In August of 2003, she opened the Louisa Gould Gallery in Vineyard Haven to promote her own maritime and sailing photography, which she had started producing seriously in 2001.
Unlike most, Ms. Gould’s gallery exhibits artists on a year-round basis. “People say thank you for staying open,” she said. “I have an open-door policy. I want everyone to come. That’s been one of those joys, so many people return. It’s one of their regular stops when they visit the Island.”
She also hosts workshops in the gallery space during the year, including writing, photography and plein air painting. She works as a design and marketing consultant, as well as a full-time sports, wedding and portrait photographer. “I always want to be creatively challenged,” she said. “If I lived in New York city, I would be specialized in one aspect. But it’s interesting this way.”
The 2,000-square-foot gallery is full of photography and paintings, as well as ceramics and glass-blown centerpieces. Ms. Gould’s work includes loving portraits of sailboats, people, flowers and sports photography. Her photographs taken in Viet Nam, Haiti and the Philippines, which hang toward the back of the room, reflect a love of the exotic and a keen global curiosity.
“It’s in a wonderful location so any artist hanging their work gets a lot of exposure,” said Anthony Benton Gude, one of the artists who will be showing his work in the 10th anniversary show. His oils and watercolors, which he paints in a style he calls magic realism, use light and its effects on color to channel emotion, he said. The show will feature new works, including Vineyard scenes of sloping hills and expansive skies.
Ms. Gould represents 30 artists who span diversity of techniques. “A lot of people come and thank me for showing a wide variety of art,” she said. The gallery hosts a contemporary art show every summer, showcasing “art you don’t see much on the Island,” she said. Though the show defies expectations, it is usually well-received, she said. “People want to see something new and fresh that challenges them.” Students tell her they consider her gallery to be a sort of art museum. “A lot of people will say they just come in for inspiration. I want people to feel free to come in and get inspired . . . Art can do that. You feel inspired, enlightened, all of a sudden you have insight . . . any form of art can bring us to a different place.”
Oil painter Kate Huntington, a native of Providence, R.I., will also show her work in the 10th anniversary show. Ms. Huntington said Ms. Gould is accommodating, and promotes her artists tirelessly. “When I come to town, she will say, ‘Oh, take my car,’” she said. “Every time I have a show there, she takes us out to dinner and finds me a place to stay. She really works hard.”
The tenth anniversary show, Summer Celebration: Salon of Gallery Artists, will open on August 2, and continue through August 15. The show will display works by Paul Beebe, Kate Huntington, John Holladay, Ellen Liman, Anthony Benton Gude, Ann Leggett and Louisa Gould. The show’s opening reception will be August 3 from 5 to 8 p.m.