Galleries : The Art Of Tradition
On an Island where much has changed over the past 50 years, the All Island Art Show has been a model of continuity since its conception in 1958.
This year, on August 4, it will be no different.
The event maintains its rustic and intimate feel over the years by sticking to a simple format: A collection of artists gathered around the Tabernacle, hanging the best of their work on the same circumscribing fence. All this in the charm of the Campground's carpenter's gothic houses, floral setting, and children who run along the interconnecting pathways as their parents chat about the art and the gossip of the summer.
Evidence of the lack of change in this Island tradition is verified by browsing through a few scrapbooks maintained by the art show's chairperson, Jean Wells. These newspaper-filled time capsules contain many articles, invoices, and information from over the years.
In 1958, the Art Show's first year, rental of the Tabernacle was $25, the total cost of winners' ribbons was 80 cents, and the "tip to boy running the music," was one dollar.
Ten years later, in 1969, rental for the Tabernacle was the same, but the price of ribbons had jumped to $5.94. The "boy running the music" had morphed into a "disc jockey," and the tip for his service had increased two-fold to $2 for a day's work.
Ms. Wells is as reverent about the All Island Art Show's history as she is enthusiastic about its present incarnation.
"You discover just how big and glorious it really is when you show up for the first time," says Ms. Wells. "A fence surrounds the whole Tabernacle with all different Island art hung on it. When you look at it, it really is something beautiful to see with all the people and colors. Everyone is walking around and having a great time. Every year it surprises me!"
Mildred Briggs, a spry 94-year-old artist from Vineyard Haven, has been in the Show since the first year. Her work has placed first several times over the years, and she has been designated an "Island Treasure" by the show's organizers.
Ms. Briggs looks forward to the All Island Art Show with each coming summer, and says, "Everyone always expects it to be fun and a great place to see Island art. And sometimes I will sell lots of my art, but others times not as many pieces. This is for sure: it is always a good place to show off your art."
"It is certainly a summer Island meeting place for both locals and visitors," says Ms. Wells. "The artists all sit outside in their chairs and talk to people about their art. They talk to one another and get inspired about what is going on. It really is one of the biggest summer meeting spots on the Island of the summer."
This year's All Island Art Show will be held on Aug. 4, between 10 am and 4 pm at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs. Each artist will be allowed to bring five pieces to be displayed on the fence and an additional portfolio. Prices vary for the amount of work an artist wishes to be displayed. First, second, and third place prizes will be awarded to contestants in eleven mediums -including oil, watercolor, graphics, photography, collage and sculpture. Artists can register at the event. For more information please refer to the Camp Meeting Association's website at mvcma.org.