Southern New England Staycations: Block Island’s Art Scene

BLOCK ISLAND, R.I. (WLNE) — Our journey through Block Island’s colorful art scene begins with a rather gray boat ride, but just steps away from the ferry awaits a whole host of art galleries and studios.

Our first stop is the island’s only art co-op–the Spring Street Gallery.

“You can just stop in, you can peruse, you can see something different, you can move on to the next spot, and there’s just a lot of things to do,” said Paige Gaffett, coordinator of the Spring Street Gallery.

It’s easy to miss if you’re passing by, but Spring Street has been a mainstay on the island for 40 years, and it’s grown–now home to pieces from 20 artists.

“I really enjoy, first of all, the friendship I’ve had with all the people here,” said one of those artists, Wendy Livingston.

This collaborative community produces a vast array of work–paintings, photography, ceramics, jewelry, clothing, even some unique sculptural lamps made out of kitchen items–all on public display. 

“Really it’s across the board. It’s more than just put-it-on-a-wall kind of art, so it’s really cool,” said Gaffett.

Our next stop takes us around the corner to Jessie Edwards’ Gallery, atop the post office. 25 artists, including Edwards, display work here, much of it inspired by Block Island’s natural beauty.

“You can walk around outside, see the beautiful view, and come in here and see how somebody else has interpreted it,” said Edwards.

All of the artwork there is for sale, but Edwards doesn’t want people to feel pressured or priced out. Pieces start at $30.

“I don’t want somebody to come in here and be uncomfortable with art. I want them to feel it’s accessible,” said Edwards.

It’s not just galleries working to open people up to the art world. Block Island businesses have found that art just makes eating and shopping, well, better.

“I think it’s really cool to think about how art is influencing the retail landscape in general,” said Meg Vitacco, who co-owns the Mutt Hut with her husband Josh Maldonado. 

At the Mutt Hut, which sells everything from treats to toys for your dog, canine artwork lines the walls. They even have an artist who does pet portraits, many of which are on display. 

Vitacco and Maldonado say they’re far from alone.

“It’s everywhere, it’s in Persephone’s Kitchen, in the cafés, in the restaurants-it’s not just in art galleries. It’s interesting. Art is extending its limbs everywhere on Block Island,” said Vitacco.

You can find the Block Island Art Trail map here.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2019

Categories: Regional News