When Vinalhaven’s Fog Gallery opened at the Harbor Wharf in the summer of 1988 it was the first art gallery on Vinalhaven. Since then the gallery has experienced a true evolution and become a mainstay of the island’s art culture.

The Fog is a seasonal gallery, operating from June until September each year. The Gallery hosts approximately eight shows annually, including two open shows that invite any island artist (year-round and summer residents) to submit their work. In addition, “Evening with the Artist” talks are scheduled to create a bridge between the work and the audience.

Daveda Movitz, artist and Fog board chairperson, joined the Fog board in the mid-1990s after her husband, artist Ed Movitz, stepped down. It was at that time that the board decided to re-energize by putting their goals in writing.

The mission of the Fog includes three main goals: To provide artists connected with Vinalhaven a venue for the exhibition and sale of their work; to be active in the art education of the community of Vinalhaven, its younger members in particular; and to maintain the highest standards of quality and ethics in its exhibitions and other activities.

As an art educator, Movitz is particularly interested in encouraging young artists. To this end, the Fog offers its space for a student art show each June so that Vinalhaven’s students have the opportunity to see their work in a different setting. This year’s show was very well attended, as art teacher Erica Hansen included work from every art student in grades K-12.

In addition to the student show, the Fog encourages young artists by sponsoring an award given to a graduating senior each year. The monetary gift is meant as a reward for a student’s previous hard work, rather than as a scholarship toward future studies.

Ken Cowles started the Fog as a commercial gallery. According to Linnell Mather, the first director of the Fog, Cowles’s goal was to bring a variety of artists to the island from all over. His hope was that people would come from the mainland to see the gallery. “It became quickly known that that wouldn’t work,” said Mather. However, a seed had been planted. Mather recalls that the gallery was quite well received by the Vinalhaven community. “The crew who worked on Harbor Wharf [the Fog’s first residence] were locals, and they showed up loyally. People would come out of the [neighboring] Fishermen’s Friend and stop in to see what was showing. They were interested, asked intelligent questions and came to openings.”

Within a few years, the Fog underwent a radical change. It was taken over by a group of about 15 people, mostly artists, who wanted a place to show their work on Vinalhaven.

“When the Fog started, there was no art gallery on the island,” Movitz said. There were a couple of shops that showed art in addition to their retail business, but there were no galleries solely devoted to showcasing artists’ work. “They wanted it to be a place for artists,” she said.

And that it is. The Fog has featured dozens of artists over the past 17 years, including Robert Indiana and North Haven’s Eric Hopkins. Many artists return year after year to show their work. Among the Fog Gallery’s policies is that all shows must feature at least two artists. In that way the Fog can maximize the number of artists presented each season.

Some notable shows of the past include a printmaking show of work done by the Vinalhaven Press, and an exhibit of photographs of Vinalhaven residents by New York/Vinalhaven photographer Joel Greenberg. Greenberg and Wendy Stewart will also curate a photography show at the Fog this month. A recent show of note was “Artifacts,” an exhibit of signs of all kinds from Vinalhaven’s past and present.

When the Fog Gallery changed from a sole proprietorship to a board-run operation, its status also changed from a commercial gallery to a not-for-profit venture. This greatly benefits artists who show there because the Fog only asks for a 25 percent commission on work they sell, as opposed to the 50 percent commission required by most commercial galleries.

The Fog’s annual art auction is its major source of funding, and it also receives some income from donations to Friends of the Fog.

The Fog Gallery is located at the Arts and Recreation Center (ARC) on High Street on Vinalhaven, and is open Wednesday-Sunday from 11am-4pm. Upcoming shows include Seven Women Painters, the Greenberg/Stewart photography show and the annual art auction show.