Art : The Art Of Service : Family Planning Art Show
About a month ago, as clusters of daffodils appeared from the ground, and the grass began turning a fierce green, the local chapter of Family Planning experienced a dramatic transformation of its own. The clinic, which provides reproductive education and healthcare to women and an increasing number of services to men, moved from its outgrown lodgings to a new, spacious facility located at 517 State Road in Tisbury.
As a result, this year's annual Friends of Family Planning Art Show, coming up this weekend at the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury, has become a more critical fundraiser than ever for the organization that has supported the non-profit service agency for over 20 years.
This year's show is designed to be extraordinary. The board has included new artists to further broaden the variety of work. Over a hundred artists will participate. Liza Coogan, the show's founder, has returned to organize the presentation of the art for the first time in over a decade.
"We have a lot of different genres," explains Miryam Gerson, a Friends of Family Planning board member, who served Family Planning as a nurse for 17 years. "It's not just things hanging on walls. There's a lot of three dimensional art, sculpture, pottery, jewelry, and even textile art."
Photo by Susan Safford
While the event itself has evolved, the show's mission has not changed since Ms. Coogan realized it almost 20 years ago. "Her idea was to both support Family Planning and local artists at the same time, and that has really continued as the overriding philosophy," says Ms. Gerson.
Of each work that sells, 60 percent goes to the artist, and the Friends receives the remaining amount. Some artists voluntarily donate a higher percentage. While a portion of the proceeds will be directed to the new facility, the remaining funds will provide supplies, staff training, and client services.
According to Ms. Gerson, the old building was "bursting at the seams." The space was cramped and, with the examination rooms located on the second floor, not handicap accessible. In addition, since the space was being rented, it meant having a monthly bill and a hovering sense of insecurity.
Not only is the new location 400 square feet bigger and better equipped to accommodate the clinic, it is a condo that Friends of Family Planning actually owns. No more landlords.
"It's always been the dream of many board members to buy a space," says Chris Brooks, who's been a member for the past four years. "It provides a lot more room, much more modern equipment, much more privacy, and the security that we will always have a place to house the clinic."
Photo by Ralph Stewart
At this point, Friends of Family Planning needs the Island's support to help pay for it. They are hoping that the art show, its biggest fundraiser of the year, will be a resounding success, setting the tone for a year in which raising money is of particular importance.
The opening gala held on Thursday, May 22, from 6 to 8 pm at the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury costs $40 at the door, and offers those who attend a first look at the art. "It's also the social event of the season," says Ms. Gerson with a smile.
"It's a show that has gotten a lot of support from Island merchants and restaurants over the years," says Mr. Brooks. Local liquor stores have donated beverages. Food provided by Kitchen Porch Catering will be followed by an assortment of desserts donated by Island restaurants. Adding the finishing touch to the evening will be melodies from Jeremy Berlin's electric piano.
Friday through Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm, the doors are open to the general public, who may view and purchase the art.
Mr. Brooks stresses the importance of the event: "We sort of depend on the show to set our budget each year, though we will be doing other fundraising to support the new condo. We made a major financial commitment to the condo. For a non-profit group of our size to do that is a fairly major undertaking."
The change of space is not the only thing that is new about Family Planning. They now provide free Gardasil vaccinations that protect against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a cause of cervical cancer, as well as a vasectomy reimbursement program, which offers up to $1,000 to help pay for operative and postoperative expenses. The free and anonymous HIV testing that was once provided by the AIDS Alliance is carried on by the clinic as well. Very soon the tests, which before took about two weeks to process, will yield nearly instant results. The clinic continues to offer STD checks for both men and women.
After weeks of heavy-duty redecorating that included changing the plumbing, painting the walls, and modifying the interior of what used to be accountants' offices, the clinic is now fully functional. "It's a beautiful, wonderful space and now we just want people to come and buy art and help us support it," says Ms. Gerson.
Annual Family Planning Art Show, Opening Gala, Thursday, May 22, 6-8 pm, Agricultural Hall, West Tisbury. $40 at the door; free parking. Show runs through Sunday, May 25, 10 am-6 pm. Free. 508-693-6712; 627-8373.