Galleries : Island Artists Brush Up For Labor Day
The high summer season will end on a festive note at the West Tisbury Agricultural Hall this weekend when more than 90 Island artists gather to display their talents and wares at the 14th annual Martha's Vineyard Artisans Labor Day Festival.
The biweekly Artisans Festivals run throughout the summer every Thursday and on Sundays at the West Tisbury Grange Hall. (The Thursday shows end today, August 28, while the Sunday Artisan Festivals at The Grange continue through October 5.)
The Labor Day Artisans Festival fills the Agricultural Hall. It includes more participants and offerings than the weekly shows. Artists in all media are represented along with craftspeople working in fiber arts, leather, glass, home furnishings, ceramics, paper, botanicals, mixed media, sculpture and photography.
Photos by Lynn Christoffers
Of special note is the participation by Bunch of Grapes bookstore, traditionally one of the exhibitors, but because of the July 4 fire that caused the temporary closing of the popular store there was doubt this year that the store would be a presence.
Bunch of Grapes event coordinator Dawn Braasch announced there will be a booth. "We already paid for a booth, and we decided to make it available to our Island authors," she said. More than a dozen Vineyard writers will attend and sign their books, including Allan Whiting, Shirley Craig, Phyllis Meras, Margot Datz, Cynthia Riggs and Tom Dresser. Part of the proceeds will be donated to the Tisbury, Oak Bluffs and Edgartown fire departments, all of which responded to the July 4 fire that razed Café Moxie and severely damaged Bunch of Grapes.
The bookstore can't order, receive or conduct any activity to make a profit until insurance issues are settled and the building is repaired. "If people want to support Bunch of Grapes, they can come to the Labor Day Artisans Festival and buy our author's books," Ms. Braasch said.
Among the artists and artisans new to the festival or returning after an absence are: John Duryea with his butcher block cutting boards; Cecily Stibitz with floor cloths; Whitney Moody with felted bags and knitted items; Molly Lesnikowski with floor cloths; Valentine Estabrook with oil paintings; and Barney Zeitz with stained glass and metal sculpture.
Lola's in Oak Bluffs will provide food for the festival, which, rain or shine, will operate from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is free. Parking costs $2, a portion of which goes to the Artisans Festival scholarship fund. Although the Artisans did not award a scholarship last year, they expect to have the necessary funds next May. The scholarship goes to a deserving high school student continuing in the arts.
Oak Bluffs musician Kevin Keady and friends will perform, and Don George will offer hay wagon rides, weather permitting.
"The artisans are always improving their work," said festival manager Andrea Rogers. "We have a mix of fine art and artisan work to accommodate all pocketbooks. The artists go with the flow of the times, so there will be lots of affordable items."
She added, "They are the best people to work with. I don't know many groups that are as cooperative. If a jeweler can't accommodate you, he'll send you to another one." Many of the jewelers who display their work order supplies together, and potters order their clay collectively.
The festival attracts everyone from movie stars and millionaires to Islanders. "You never know who you'll meet," Ms. Rogers said.
The Artisans Festival at the Ag Hall in West Tisbury is Saturday, August 30, and Sunday, August 31, from 10 am-5 pm. Admission free. Parking, $2 (supports regional high school scholarship fund). 508-693-8989.
Brooks Robards reviews art, film, theater, and books for the Times.