Maritime artists contribute to Sail M.V.’s holiday art sale

Phil Cordella enjoys the artist's reception for Sail M.V.'s Holiday Maritime Art Sale. — Photo by Susan Safford

There are boats, seascapes, fish, seabirds, and shells and there are…more boats. Not surprisingly, a good number of the artistic contributions to Sail Martha’s Vineyard’s Holiday Maritime Art Sale feature boats: sail, row, fishing, and of course, an icon of Island living, the ferry. However, given the number of artists contributing to the show, everywhere you look you’ll see a different take on a seascape or a nautical scene.

The unique collection has been gathered for the fourth year now as a benefit for Sail M.V., the local organization founded in 1992 dedicated to offering youth programs for Island children in sailing, seamanship, and wooden boat building; to attracting historic vessels to the community; and to providing opportunities for all ages in maritime education, rowing, and sailing.

The show, which runs through December 23, includes painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry, and other gift items, and a couple of working boats. Taking up most of the westerly wall in the one-room show is a full size canoe by Rick Brown of Far Cry Boats, which has a price tag of $3,333. The catboat that graces the front of the historic building is also for sale for $4,444.

The rest of the collection is considerably less pricey and more living-room friendly. Approximately 25 artists are represented with prices ranging from $50 to $1,600 (there are also inexpensive cards and gift items). “The water and boats inspire everybody in so many dimensions,” said Pam Flam, show coordinator. “There’s something for everybody’s price range and also for every taste.”

Works by a handful of well-established artists are among the group show, including a black and white print by Allen Whiting called “Bequia Boat,” which is a departure from his signature style and has an almost expressionist feel.

A large monochromatic work by John Holladay stands out. It’s a study of lobster traps in greys and blacks with a few splotches of red. Two very attractive paintings of Squibnocket by Donna Straw dominate one of the rooms. They are done in muted blues and tans highlighted by bold outlines and sun streaks of metallic gold.

Marston Clough has the most paintings in the show with 10 works whose simplicity is very appealing, especially in ones whose rustic appeal is contrasted by painted gold frames. The works, many of which are quite small, in prices ranging from $50 to $350, would make great Christmas gifts, as would lovely little landscapes by up-and-coming local artist Dan VanLandingham, and some attractively priced paintings by Thaw Malin.

A large oil painting of Sail M.V.’s two pilot gigs — Cassie and Grace — is perhaps the most eye-catching piece in the show, and also the priciest painting at $1,600. Cassie, whose green and red color scheme has made her a very recognizable feature of the Vineyard Haven harbor, is also the subject of a number of other works in the show. A series of photos by David Dandridge feature Cassie, both in color and black and white. Mr. Dandridge is a skipper for the Steamship Authority who, according to Ms. Flam, always has his camera with him. “He gets shots of sights that mere mortals don’t get a chance to see,” she said.

Among Mr. Dandridge’s contributions to the show are two wonderful photos with Cassie in the foreground and ghostly images in the misty background — one in color with the ferry and one in black and white with a barely visible schooner. These two are treasures that could easily be missed in a peremptory viewing of the show.

Other photographers whose work is represented are Alison Shaw, L.A. Brown, Jeff Serusa, Susan Safford, Dick Clark, Lisa Vanderhoop, Jhenn Watts, and Louisa Gould. Each has a distinctive style, from Ms. Vanderhoop’s popping colors to Ms. Watts’ emulsion lifts on glass, to Ms. Gould’s popular action shots from sailing races. Mr. Clark has on display many photos at different price points, including some unframed prints for $30.

Sketch artist Tim Winchell also offers some unframed matted prints for under $50, as well as framed prints and originals. His charcoal sketches of Menemsha are masterfully executed and display his eye for detail. One print of the Menemsha wharf vista from above, with circling seagulls in the foreground, is a wonderful portrayal from an unusual perspective.

Metal sculptures by Charles Gibbs include a very attractive fish made from corrugated metal and other found objects. Woodworker J.P. Uranker has contributed a hand-carved boat hook and an oar to the collection. His wife, Fran Uranker, offers neat nautical gifts including rope-wrapped vases and decanters, sailor’s knot-adorned stoppers, and monkey’s fist necklaces.

There are two calendars — Catboats by catboat owner Jim O’Connor and Ms. Vanderhoop’s popular Vineyard Seadogs. There is a small selection of jewelry including some lovely, simple modern pieces crafted by Kenneth Pillsworth from silver, titanium, and pearls, and there are hand-painted boxes by Lorraine Wells. A variety of artists have also contributed packaged cards.

The artists all keep 75 percent of the price with the remainder going towards Sail M.V. “This is great for the artists right now when they don’t have a lot going on,” said Hope Callen, Sail M.V. administrative director.

Said Ms. Flam, “There are so many artists who are racers and fishers and sailors. It’s great to have a collaboration between different aspects of Island life. It’s a fundraiser but it’s much more of a community builder.”

Sail M.V. Holiday Maritime Art Sale open daily, 11 am to 4 pm through Dec. 23 or by appointment, Sail M.V., 110 Main St., Vineyard Haven. 508-696-7644;