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“For generations people have been looking at this photo of Nancy Luce and her chickens… but them ain’t chickens.”
Francine Kelly, Director Emeritus of Featherstone Center for the Arts
“I met Francine in 2003 on one of her first days as Director of Featherstone Center for the Arts, when I was pulling prints in the printmaking studio. After introductions, we immediately started sharing stories and ideas. How could you resist this interested and engaging person with the warmest and most welcoming of smiles?
Over the years, I have watched our island art center grow and develop first under the guidance of Francine and now her daughter Ann Smith, the current Director. Their hard work and vision enabled it to blossom into a true learning environment. Formerly open 2 days a week with a few yearly shows, Featherstone is now a vibrant center open every day of the week with curated and theme exhibitions almost every two weeks. It is, as Featherstone itself acknowledges, a “year-round community art center providing inspiration, education and creative nourishment” while celebrating and supporting all the arts including but not limited to, poetry, music and opera.
Thank you, Francine.”
Beyond the Bridge
As a painter, I had been searching for someone to help me capture the story of this magical island. A windy day, in late May I found it in Dave Kolb, an inspired park ranger, who lives in Martha’s Vineyard and gives island tours of Chappaquiddick. He beams. I was immediately drawn to him because of his happy demeanor, apparent joy for life and his exuberance for Martha’s Vineyard and Chappaquiddick.
“I absolutely love it here. And I love my job! It is so beautiful. Look,” he pointed, “it is GORGEOUS!” His face and eyes lit up as he told me.
The happy creases in his face mirrored the barrier beach with its sandy shorelines, salt march and salt ponds. More, the lines of his face, etched by time and island winds, were reminders of the stories he enthusiastically shared of his beloved island.
I was humbled and honored to meet Dave and paint him for Faces of the Island. He does this island proud.”
“I was born and raised on the Vineyard, the youngest child of a sea captain and a college educated mother whose main job was to raise four boys while making ends meet. After college I worked as a bacteriologist before beginning what turned out to be a career teaching high school science on the mainland before moving back to the Vineyard.”
Ray in Winter
“This oil study is of Ray Gale, a constant presence on the waterfront in Tashmoo whose face I have wanted to draw and paint for a long time. Ray is reluctant to have photographs taken so I was surprised that he let me snap a few one day this winter down at the dock, surveying the ice and remaining boats. Ray is a skilled waterman who currently works setting moorings, but like other watermen on the Vineyard, has done about everything there is to do to earn a living from the sea.”
“The young man weighing his striped bass (obviously a winner) with great pride typifies to me all the dedicated men and women who fish the Derby in October every year.
A family tradition, it is a rite of passage in almost every Vineyard family. We have three generations in our family that have tested the water; never with quite such a spectacular result. But many a story is still told of a “near miss” or “lost at the last minute” and we all believe the big one is out there waiting if we just persist.”
“Because I am a full-time photojournalist, I take a lot of portraits. Interacting with people is a huge part of my job, but it is extremely difficult to capture the essence of someone without truly knowing them. So, I opted to photograph myself on a self-timer. I know me best, right? Something like that.
I am constantly moving throughout the Island, never focusing on one particular spot but instead as Martha’s Vineyard as a whole. In my time here, I have been pelted by rain, buried in snow, choked by firework smoke, frozen by the icy ocean, trampled at the Island Cup, spit on (thanks, Patriots), nearly blown away, and so much more — and I LOVE it. To successfully do my job you have to be a little weird, because who in their right mind would look forward to getting kicked in the face photographing Big Bridge jumpers? The one thing I do not do, however, is take myself too seriously. I have braved the best AND worst Martha’s Vineyard has to offer, yet I still want to wear a cape during the third straight day of snow and wind. I tried to capture all of that in one self portrait.”
“Wade Johnson is known for many things, some of these include working at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School for eleven years as part of the technology department. Not only is Wade known for his years at the school but he is better known for being the senior lighthouse keeper in Edgartown. Let alone from his work in the community, Wade is recognized for his personality. He is a man of true wisdom and knowledge and takes joy in sharing happiness with everyone he encounters and this is the reason I chose him.”
“The relationship between the artist and the subject couldn’t be closer, because the image is a self-portrait, albeit one produced with a heavy dose of artistic license. The artist as well as his “sitter” are year-round residents of Martha’s Vineyard.
The medium is a variant of a photograph called photogram. It is arrived at by placing objects on photosensitive paper and exposing it to light, thus circumventing the use of a camera. The submitted image is a reverse photogram, in other words a photogram of a photogram.
I chose to do a self-portrait of this kind because I have become interested in creating photograms. Also, the approaching deadline didn’t give me enough time to find a person willing to be depicted by means of a variety of odd items.”
“The subject of my portrait painting is Peg Knowles, a fellow artist who painted on the Vineyard for many years. Born in 1910, Peg spent part of her early summers on the island, returning permanently to Edgartown in 1963, after raising a family with her husband in New Jersey.
Peg became a nearby neighbor of mine, living in a home that was once a school house for Vineyard children. Always adventurous and eager to try new things, she began to paint watercolors in her later years. We painted “pleine aire” together, exploring the beautiful scenic views of the island. Peg became a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Art Association and had her first show at the Old Sculpin Gallery at the age of 86. Peg’s colorful landscape and still life images became extremely popular; the paintings were modest in size but large in accomplishment. When she died at the age of 92, I lost a great friend and a marvelous painting companion. I cherish the Peg Knowles pictures that I have collected over the years. I wanted to paint this portrait of Peg to commemorate her spirit and the affection which I, and many others, felt for her.”
“Woodward Filley, or Woody is a long time island resident. Living on Martha’s Vineyard for thirty-four years, Woody has worked at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School for 20 years as the technology director. Unfortunately, at the end of this year we lose the technology mastermind. The reason I chose Woody is because the majority of people on the island know him. He’s the one who introduced technology to the high school and always makes the lives of student and teachers much easier.”
The Geography of John
“This is a portrait of my friend, Reverend John D. Schule, Jr. You may recognize him from his 20 years as Pastor of the Federated Church in Edgartown, where I was lucky enough to wander in one Sunday many years ago, and where John never failed to offer a kick-butt sermon full of heart, soul and relevance. John took good care of his parish until circumstances called him home in the mid 1990’s; he has since continued his practice in a more abbreviated way and still opens his arms to his many friends, family, and anyone in need.
At 84, John continues to tend to the matters of heart and spirit, philosophizing and composing poetry on paper plates each morning, painting intuitively in all mediums, nourishing souls in the little chapel he built with his own hands in his back yard.
There’s much to love about John the Reverend, philosopher, poet, and artist, but I most love John the human being, the person who experiences and shares the full spectrum of the human condition, from giddy joy to angst and self-doubt and everything in between. This is why I chose to portray John using maps of the world, as he represents features common to us all. The background consists of a recent lecture he gave at M.I.T. entitled “The Right Time”, in which he shares his thoughts on time and space, and which he considers his best work.”
““Selfie” is a deep etched intaglio self-portrait made from a photograph of the artist. The photograph was inspired by an exhibit at Featherstone Center for the Arts in 2014 entitled “Selfies.” It was selected because it represents my deep connection with Martha’s Vineyard.
I first came to Martha’s Vineyard in the summer of 1968 when my mother rented a house on Music Street. Before that summer ended, she bought a house in Chilmark where she lives year round. That house became my second home and the second home to my children and now my grandchildren. Our family now represents four generations of Vineyarders.”
“My self portrait is a selfie framed by my own hand while lying in bed. I am simply playing with what is now an ubiquitous genre of photography typically devoid of design. By using my other hand and locating it much nearer to the camera than my face, I was able to manipulate the size of my hand in relationship to my face – simply an aesthetic curiosity we all used to do as kids when we framed someone else’s face with our fingers by having them stand far away.”
Liv & Trudy
“This is a portrait of Livingston Taylor and his mother Trudy Taylor. I have known Livingston for about 15 years, he is a good friend and neighbor of mine on Martha’s Vineyard. Livingston has lived on MV since the 1970s and is such a huge part of the community with his music, his generosity and his love for the island. This portrait of Liv and his mother was taken at State Road Restaurant, a favorite spot of Trudy’s for breakfast. Liv and I were out doing errands and stopped in for a quick cup of coffee and we ran into his mother having breakfast with friends. The light coming through the window transformed their hair into halos. I was drawn to the colors in Trudy’s outfit – I have always loved the combination of purple and yellow.”
“I rented an apartment from Yvette last summer while I was working on the Island. I roomed with three people whom I had never met before, and at first we bonded by trying to decipher our mysterious landlady. Although Yvette never told her whole story outright, here is what we gathered: she was over eighty and not afraid to admit it; she had grown-up children of her own, including one son who lived elsewhere on the island; she had raised eight foster girls who couldn’t read when they landed on her doorstep, but after countless trips to the library, four continued on to college; she helped take care of those who couldn’t take care of themselves; while biking she once almost ran over a family picnicking on the trail—in fact, she used to race bikes. The one photo I have of Yvette is blurry, so even after deciding to paint her, I had to work for it, in the same way we did to put her story together.”
“William Waterway is a kindred spirit who cares deeply for earth’s most precious resource – water, a sentiment I share. I live above what was once called “Sachem’s Spring.” A health agent said my water was some of the best she had ever tested. I have since learned that only 2.5% of the earth’s water is fresh water, and according to UNICEF and the World Health Organization Joint Monitoring Programme 2014 Update, “750 million people around the world lack access to safe water.”
William has long espoused clean drinking water for all. His work was included in National Geographic’s book, Written in Water. He frequently pays homage to water by playing his flutes near water sources. I asked him whether I could paint a portrait of him playing a flute near my favorite Chilmark creek.
On the day we met for a photo-study shoot, William brought his magnificent Hawk Little John pipe to play to the rushing waters of the creek. I was thrilled as I have a pipe also crafted by this preeminent Cherokee pipe maker.
It was an honor to paint a portrait of William Waterway, Vineyarder, Poet, Author, Musician and avid clean water advocate.”
Thomas G. Lambert
“This is a portrait of Thomas G. Lambert, born in Chilmark, Dukes County, Martha’s Vineyard January 10, 1826.
Thomas is listed as a Mariner in the 1850 census on the Island, as were about ¾ of the young men of that era. He is the older brother of Prudence Dawes Lambert. She was one of the many deaf on the island, and was sent a locket by Thomas, made from a nugget that he found after he sailed to California at the time of the Gold Rush. Whaling was becoming less lucrative, so many Islanders sailed to California to seek a better future.
I chose him as a subject because his picture is in the locket that he sent to his sister, and I wanted to try and make his image more life sized and easier to see what he might have looked like. He settled in Monterey CA, and evidently owned a lumber yard there, was married to Sarah for 35 years, was crippled at some point, and his only child from that marriage, Millie Cloud, died when she was about 3 years old.”
“Ivo has lived on the Vineyard since 1967; worked here as a reporter for the Gazette, Edgartown police officer, lawyer, and proprietor of Book Den East. I chose him because he is very entertaining and very cute.”
“Olga Hirshhorn has been a Summer resident of the Island for more than 30 years making a difference in many ways. Our friendship spans that time as we shared fishing, friendship and family together. This painting was done from a photo from 2003 when she attended a wedding at our home. While she may not be a frequent resident any longer due to age, her heart and enthusiasm will always be for the Vineyard.
Honored by the Martha’s Vineyard Museum for outstanding contributions to the Island, her constant efforts on behalf of the Vineyard included community service, the MV hospital, the Playhouse. the Thrift Store, Featherstone, and more.”
Darren Patrick – Head Cook, Dock Street Coffee Shop
“Keep it Simple”, that’s Dock Street Coffee Shop’s motto. Over easy, “pleasy”, and they do. Darren’s dad, Don, also known as “Doc” around the Shop, told his son that as long as he could reach the sink he would be ready to work. That time came when he was eight. Having grown up at the Coffee Shop, Darren couldn’t wait to get started. He began work as a dishwasher. When Darren was promoted to prep cook, he trained alongside his dad to learn the trade. After Doc’s death, he took over for him as head cook .
For many years, I made it my tradition to walk or ride my bike to Dock Street. It is my favorite restaurant because, even now that I live here, it feels like coming home. I love how there is always someone to talk with, always a newspaper or two to read, and the food is truly as homemade as one can get, without being home. Keep it simple.”
Gus Ben David
“The subject is my friend, Augustus Ben David.Gus is a well known Martha’s Vineyard resident.If you have any questions about birds or animals you know that you can call Gussy and get the answers! I choose him because he is a good friend and is lots of fun.”
Debbie Ben David
“The subject is my friend, Debbie Ben David.Debbie worked many years as principal nurse at Windemere nursing home. Everybody loves her, because she has a warm heart. I chose her because she is a lovely and cheerful friend.”
“Lift, turn, tilt, twist, right… OK, now hold that pose for 20 minutes. That means don’t scratch that itch, don’t sweat over the sweat dripping on the floor from the hot lights and keep still.
Felicity and I have both worked as models for various drawing groups at the Featherstone Center for the Arts. We both have been coming to this beautiful island during all of our summers and have just realized our dreams of living here year round. We met this winter. When I asked her about her connection to the island she told me about how many of her family members, living and dead, are here. Then she told me, laughing, about how her mother gave her and each of her siblings an MV island gravesite. It was her mother’s gift to her children so that they can all remain together on this island.
Lie down, close your eyes, relax and hold that pose for eternity.”
“My painting “Tres’ Skip” pays homage to a multi-talented and enthusiastic Martha’s Vineyard advocate – Skip Finley. His public service and journalistic endeavors demonstrate a love for the Island as bountiful as his Island persona – one not easily captured in a single portrait. Hence, the bon vivant man about town, community activist, and chronicler of Island history and lore are but a few of his admirable traits. I’ve known Skip Finley for a few years now and chose to paint his portrait because I appreciate him for the reasons stated above.”
“Hunter Moorman is the former Chairman of the West Tisbury Library Foundation (WTLF). Both Hunter and I are year-round Island residents.
I chose Hunter for the portrait competition because he spearheaded the WTLF’s recent successful campaign to raise capital to fund the expansion of the West Tisbury Library.
Thanks to the dedication and tireless efforts of Hunter and his team, we have a wonderful new library, with extraordinarily beautiful spaces, which strengthens our community and enhances the quality of our lives.
Significantly, the photograph was taken at the opening of the new Library in March, 2014!”
“I got to know Matthew when he and my late husband worked together to establish the Polly Hill Arboretum as an institution open to the public.
Matthew has worn many hats in his years on the Vineyard, starting with his time as a crew member on the ship Shenandoah in its early days. If one wants to know practically anything about local sailors, wooden boats, boatyards, whaling and New England maritime history Matthew is the one to seek out. His prodigious memory, his wonderful stories and infectious joy in the telling are legendary.
Matthew’s latest position was as chief fundraiser and spokesperson for the reconstruction and re-launching of the whaling ship the Charles W. Morgan, culminating in the 38th voyage of the vessel during the summer of 2014. He can tell you about being on the ship as she sailed out of Mystic Seaport to be welcomed by throngs of New Englanders during that triumphant voyage.”
“When my son Evan celebrated his birthday at the end of April, his friend Joey Huang stopped by the party. As is typical for him, he was either going to or coming from fishing, fully outfitted from head to boots. I was particularly taken with how he had pulled his hair up into a topknot, evoking an ancient warrior.
All the young men at the party that evening are fierce fishermen, enduring bone-chilling cold, suffering through long hours of tedium, defying lashing winds and waves… or at least that’s how I imagine them out there. These boys learned to expertly tie flies nearly as soon as they learned to tie their shoes.
I asked Joey to pose for me, dressed exactly as he was that evening. Another in that group, Julian Pepper, loaned me some lures from his huge cache to hang on the wall behind Joey. “Lure” is a study for a larger painting I’m planning.
Joey earns his living at MV Glassworks, but on any given day (or night) you might find him and his mates at the Gut, Wasque or Dogfish Bar. Don’t, however, try to penetrate the secrets of their best fishing spots. Like all the great fishermen, they’ll never tell.”
Rick Karney, aka Cap’n Rickey & Babu Chaza (Grandfather Shellfish) in Zanzibar, is a friend and colleague. We have collaborated on videos telling the stories of water quality issues on the Island. His dedication to maintaining the health of Vineyard waters is central to his role as Executive Director of Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group where he works overtime to spawn shellfish larvae for the six Island towns. Scallops, Quahogs and Oysters are spawned and nurtured with loving skill to fill our Island ponds where they are harvested by local fishermen, filter nitrogen from the water, and produce great revenues for the towns’ coffers. His nurturing talents however, go well beyond shellfish, to the apple and pear orchard in his back yard. Kiwis, pawpaws and veggies thrive under his watchful eye and bonsai are graced by his touch.
He sees a need and sets his pen to paper to persuade private and government agencies that we need their help. He initiated the Island Blue Pages, a resource guide for best water practices, in English and Portuguese, and it has been used as a template by many communities in the U.S.. His good humor and patience make one always feel welcome. He is an Island treasure and we are blessed to have him here.”
Roy Langley, the Morning Weigh Master
“This photo of Roy Langley, the morning Weigh Master, was taken by me on September 17, 2014, at the Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. My husband, has been fishing on the Vineyard for over thirty years and therefore, I have attended my share of Derby weigh-ins. I’ve watched Roy go about his work weighing in many pounds of fish year after year. His enthusiastic approach and beaming smile has always brought excitement to the entire Derby Headquarters. No matter how large or how small a weighed-in fish might have been, Roy always lifted each fish and placed it on the scale as if it were a prize catch.
My only relationship with Roy–except for a passing chat at the Derby–is as a fisherman’s wife who looks forward to seeing Roy’s contagious smile and enthusiastic approach to a very important Vineyard tradition.”
“About forty years ago, while working at a Boston law firm, Solomon Watson (Sol) discovered Martha’s Vineyard during a fishing trip with friends. Having enjoyed fishing when he was growing up in Woodstown, a small town in New Jersey, Sol developed a natural bond to Martha’s Vineyard. Sol later moved to New York to be closer to his twin daughters and start work as a lawyer for The New York Times, but he continued returning to the Vineyard every year. Over thirty years ago, he bought a house in Oak Bluffs – it is where he has felt most at home, especially going down-cellar to tie flies. Some of his time, especially since retirement, is devoted to The Trustees of Reservations and the Norcross Wildlife Foundation. Sol’s greatest joy has been introducing the Vineyard to his grandchildren. He also enjoys sharing freshly caught fish with the neighbors.”
David Cricket Willoughby
“This portrait is of David (Cricket) Willoughby. He is part of the Martha’s Vineyard Harley Riders (MVHR) he also owns his own carpentry business Cricket and Rainman Builders Inc. He has always been a social person and has very many friends and acquaintances on this island because of the Harley Riders group and because of his business. I chose to take pictures of him because I know he would be very happy to have his picture taken and because he is so well known. He is such a wonderful person and is always willing to help people whenever or however he can.”