My Early Days at the Old Sculpin

Menemsha 1968, watercolor on paper, 22  x 15

Menemsha 1968, watercolor on paper, 22 x 15″ 
Alison Shaw painted this while a student at The Old Sculpin Gallery in the summer of 1968, when she was 14 years old. 

I spent childhood summers on the Vineyard with my extended family. We stayed with my grandparents Alma and Chester Van Tassel, who retired to Edgartown in the mid-1950’s.

It was around 1963 (I was about ten) when I started art classes with Ruth Appledoorn Mead, in the studio space upstairs from the Old Sculpin Gallery. Back then my artwork was mostly pen and ink sketches and watercolors. I did this painting of Menemsha when I was fourteen, and in all likelihood it hung on these walls for sale. With the money made from my early sales of art at the Old Sculpin, I saved up for my family’s first color TV and also purchased my first piece of artwork — a woodcut by William Abbe.

For many summers I also worked there, sitting behind the front desk with Mrs. Mead and Ruth Galley.

My favorite part of the job was buying soft-serve ice cream at the Quarterdeck for the three of us. I also had my own studio space on the  uppermost floor of the Sculpin, way up in the tower — this space was later used for many years by artist-in-residence Fred Messersmith.

My first exhibit of photographs at the Sculpin was in 1980. I showed black and white images that had appeared in the Vineyard Gazette, where I’d worked since 1975. Thirteen of my framed prints sold, at a price of $100 each.

tagged in Alison Shaw

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