The fine art of fundraising

The fine art of fundraising

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The Shaw Cramer Gallery provides an elegant setting for the painting of Leslie Baker (foreground) and the tapestries of Julia Mitchell (at left on back wall). — Photo by Susan Safford

On Monday and Tuesday next week, Vineyard Haven’s Shaw Cramer Gallery will display an impressive demonstration of the generosity of the Island’s artists and the community spirit that makes all things possible.

The occasion is Art Works, a benefit for the West Tisbury Free Public Library’s Expansion Project.

“I think it’s extraordinary how many people are donating,” says artist Leslie Baker, a Library Foundation member. She first met with gallery owner Nancy Shaw Cramer and artists Marie-Louise Rouff and Hermine Hull during the winter to plan the event.

“The library has been too small since it opened up,” says Trustee and Library Foundation member Dan Waters. In 1997, the Library had 900 cardholders. By 2010, it had more than 2,000.

Once the call went out last spring, a wide variety of work was being committed, from oil paintings, sculpture, jewelry, and ceramics to a quilt, a hand-beaded purse, hand-carved decoys, and a hand-knit sweater. At last count, 46 artists donated work for the show, giving from 50 to 100 percent of the income generated to the library. Among the nationally established artists participating are: Marc Brown, Leslie Baker, Shanti Bloom, Sioux Eagle, Ruth Kirchmeier, Julia Mitchell, and Doug Kent.

An artist’s appreciation reception will be held on Monday, July 25, from 5 to 8 pm, and the public will have a chance to meet the artists, as well as to see the wide variety of work they represent.

Art Works will be hung salon style, which means there will be vertical columns of art displayed on the walls above and below each other. Items like jewelry and sculpture will be displayed on pedestals.

“It’s a little different look for the gallery,” Ms. Cramer says, explaining that paintings usually don’t share wall space in the gallery in this manner.

Buyers eager to purchase don’t have to wait until July 25. “As soon as the art arrives, it’s going up,” says Ms. Cramer. “And as soon as it’s sold, the buyer can take it with them,” Ms. Cramer adds.

“Nancy Shaw Cramer wanted to help,” Mr. Waters says. “She opened her gallery and made it possible for local artists to participate in an event about art.”

The entire community has kicked in. A music event on July 27 will feature Willy Mason and the Flying Elbows at the Grange Hall, and local caterers will donate their wares on July 31. Wednesday’s Library Foundation event with author David McCullough was sold out.

Renovations always cost more than a new building, Mr. Waters points out. Although the Friends of the Library’s annual summer book sale raised $23,000 last year and is expected to match that amount this year, the Library Foundation must come up with $2 million. Fundraisers have been themed around people’s different talents and disciplines to help reach the goal.

It was announced this past Thursday that the West Tisbury Free Public Library was awarded a Massachusetts State Grant of $2,982,544 towards its 2013 expansion.

The State requires the library to break ground by 2013. With the State’s grant in hand — 55 percent of the projected cost — and the Library Foundation’s $2 million goal for private fundraising in place, representatives will attend the April 2012 town meeting to request approval and appropriate its share of the funds.

“A library is a lot more than a collection of books,” Mr. Waters notes. “It’s a cultural center for the community, where we exchange ideas…West Tisbury has writers, travelers, people who have things in their heads that have never been written down. We’re a community of walking books.”

“We’re hoping that people who love art and love the library will come and be as generous as the artists have been,” Ms. Baker says about the art benefit. “Everybody has to step up to the plate in some way.”

Artist Marsha Winsryg will be contributing a West Tisbury landscape. Her husband, New Yorker cartoonist Paul Karasik, will donate work at an August library event.

Mr. Karasik says, “We have the highest number of cardholders of any of the Island’s libraries, but it’s the second smallest [library] after Aquinnah. Expanding it is a no-brainer.”

He adds, “The West Tisbury Library is at the hub of the community. It’s the heart of the town.”

Art Works benefit show for the West Tisbury Library Foundation, Monday, July 25 and Tuesday, July 26, hosted by Shaw Cramer Gallery. Artist Appreciation Reception on Monday July 25, 5–8 pm. Shaw Cramer Gallery, 56 Main Street, Vineyard Haven. Open daily 10 am-6 pm, Fridays 10 am-8 pm.