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Press page > Artists find cozy home at e'kaya

Oct, 20, 2005
Martha's Vineyard Times
Artists find cozy home at e'kaya
written by Brooks Robards

Rain and wind didn’t faze e’kaya gallery owner Tanya Augoustinos last weekend. Out came veggies, fruit, marmite, and a jug of homemade Merlot to celebrate the landscape and abstract oil paintings of David Tierney whose exhibit ends today, Oct. 20.

Susan painting en plein air
Next up is sign- painter-turned landscape- artist Susan Sellers Glyman, whose “Expressions en Plein Air” show starts Saturday, Oct. 22, at the little gallery behind the Scottish Bakehouse on State Road, Vineyard Haven. Augoustinos, a South African native, has drawn the inspiration for her gallery (e’kaya means “little house” in xhosa, the dialect spoken by Nelson Mandela) from African culture. “The South Africans are so creative with so little,” Augoustinos says, describing how the natives make beautiful things out of bottle caps, telephone cable wire and even potato chip bags. The edges of e’kaya’s makeshift spool tables are decorated with bottle caps, and a piece of brightly colored South African cotton covered with Coca-cola logos serves as the tablecloth for hors d’oeuvres.

Community and “gifting” describe the way e’kaya came into existence this past summer. Island bartender friends saved bottle caps for Augoustinos, and friends in landscaping dropped off leftover seeds and gardening supplies for the gallery garden. The rustic wooden tree poles on either side of e’kaya’s canopied entrance came from the state forest.

Scottish Bakehouse proprietor Denise Dominick donated the shed, originally filled with bakery equipment discards, which her friend Augoustinos transformed into e’kaya. Now its doors—salvaged from a Vineyard Haven house under renovation — open onto a tiny hallway and two cozy gallery rooms with track lights and soft, beige-colored walls.

Last Sunday, friends Todd Murtha, Todd Estrella, and Mike Box were helping Augoustinos hang up a tarpaulin to keep the rain at bay outside the gallery.

Murtha’s friendship with e’kaya’s proprietor dates from his excursion to the eastern Transvaal in South Africa, where he met Augoustinos and invited her to visit his family in Tisbury. That was 13 years ago, and after regular visits, Augoustinos settled on the Vineyard.

After nine years in the New York art scene working at places like Sonnabend Gallery, the former risk management underwriter landed a job at Vineyard Haven’s Etherington Fine Art Gallery. Like so many Vineyard transplants, she learned how to piece together a living hanging art shows and doing odd jobs and jumped at the chance to open her own gallery.

“Activist art doesn’t have enough space on this island,” Augoustinos says. “It’s not just about angry art and what the government doesn’t do for us, but about educating people.” She sees art as playing an important political — in the broad sense — role as a form of empowerment and references groups like New York’s Guerrilla Girls and Paper Tiger TV. For instance, she’d love to install a drip irrigation system to demonstrate how things like that can and do work. She’d like people to teach dance classes.

Augoustinos concentrates on emerging artists like Tierney, who has only exhibited once before, and Sellers-Glyman, who spent 30 of her Island years running a signage and graphic arts business. She also wants to put up an outdoor screen and show activist videos and films.

Susan Sellers GlymanIn an effort to expand the gallery’s reach, this summer Augoustinos took work from ongoing e’kaya exhibits and displayed it at the Chilmark Community Center on nights the Martha’s Vineyard Independent Film Festival was showing films. With a good synergy between e’kaya, the Scottish Bakehouse and the Film Festival, she hopes to find people with a genuine interest in art and activism to help by gallery sitting and looking after the space.

For Susan Sellers-Glyman, the timing was just right to contact Augoustinos. With extensive training in fine arts and four or five years focusing more on plein-air painting and less on Sellers Signs, she was ready for her first one-woman show. She has more than 30 landscapes in the show opening Saturday.

“Everybody knows me as the sign painter,” says Sellers- Glyman, who added Glyman to her name 10 years ago when she married fish spotter turned jet pilot Jim Glyman. Now she’s working outdoors and choosing her own subjects. Her work depicts many well-known Vineyard scenes, like “Sailboat in Harthaven,” “Gas Pump, North Road, Jenkinsons’,” and “Sengekontacket
at Bend-in-the- Road.” She is also showing work from her travels to Sebasco Peninsula and other parts of Maine.

Sellers-Glyman’s work will be on exhibit through November 3. Then, weather permitting, Augoustinos plans her next show, a group exhibit featuring work from the artists she showed this summer. Until the weather stops her, e’kaya will remain open, and Augoustinos is already making plans for the gallery’s re-opening next spring.

Brooks Robards is a poet, author, and former college film instructor. She frequently contributes stories on art, film, and poetry to The Times.

Courtesy of The Martha's Vineyard Times. Photos by Brian Jolley.