Featherstone plans artist open studios tour

Fiber artist Julia Mitchell at work on the loom in her studio. — Photo by Lynn Christoffers

Seventeen Island artists will open their studios to the public on Saturday, Sept. 8, and Sunday, Sept. 9, in a fundraiser for Featherstone Center for the Arts. Attendees will receive maps for the self-guided tour of the 16 studios, a snack bag, and a brochure that details the backgrounds of the participating artists.

“We started it last year to celebrate our 15th anniversary,” said Featherstone director Ann Smith, in an interview with The Times last week. “We wanted to do something new and different.” Last year’s event was so successful that Featherstone expanded it from one to two days. The organization sold 100 tickets at $50 each last year, and it expects to equal or top that number this year.

“September is quieter, so it’s an ideal time,” Ms. Smith said. “Artists get to sell their work in their own studio space.” Some artists give demonstrations, others talk about their art.

On Friday night, a preview will take place at Featherstone’s Pebble Gallery to introduce the 17 artists’ work to the public. The tour will conclude Sunday with a Pebble Gallery reception from 4:30 to 6 pm for ticket holders and artists. Ms. Smith pointed out that in addition to being a festive event for the ticket holders, the reception gives the artists an opportunity that they don’t often have to get together collectively.

Vineyard Haven artist Anne Grandin, who opened her studio last year and will again this year, thought the tour was fun. More than 100 people visited her painting studio, which is big enough to accommodate the crowds, and she served refreshments.

Ms. Grandin was working on a commission at the time and demonstrated to visitors the different steps involved in such a project. The afternoon proved especially busy. “I was by myself, and it was really crowded,” she said.

In addition to Ms. Grandin, paper artist Sandy Bernat, founder of Seastone Papers, will open her West Tisbury studio, where she works and teaches with pulp fiber. Ms. Bernat has traveled to Myanmar, China, and Tibet to study fiber origins and different styles of making paper by hand. She collects and processes local fibers to make sculptural art and one-of-a-kind books.

Born and raised on Martha’s Vineyard, Marston Clough of Vineyard Haven taught science before becoming an artist. Now a Featherstone board member, he began by studying drawing and printmaking, then became interested in painting.

Deirdre DeCarion lives in Toronto and summers in Edgartown, where she makes art out of found wood. An avid hiker, she collects wood on her excursions and makes walking staffs. She calls them walking companions, conversation pieces and connections to the natural world. She also creates “talking sticks,” bootjacks, shoehorns, and hooks.

Sculptor Jay Lagemann is probably best known for his “Swordfish Harpooner,” a Menemsha landmark made for Chilmark’s 1994 Tricentennial. In addition, he has created the Wild Island Sculpture Garden on the grounds of his Chilmark home.

Tapestry designer and weaver Julia Mitchell makes fiber art on commission and for exhibition. Growing up on Martha’s Vineyard, she draws inspiration from its landscapes and island environment.

Vineyard Haven artist Donna Straw has three art-related degrees that have equipped her to incorporate color and design techniques in two different acrylic painting styles. The hard-edge work in her painted Birdhouse and Campground Collection is done with masking. She uses a different, more fluid style in her Landscape and Seascape Collection.

Painter Wendy Weldon’s studio is in Chilmark, where she produces a variety of work ranging from abstracts to stone, sea walls, barns, birds, and leaves. She considers color to be her artistic forté.

Laurene Krasny Brown has a studio in Vineyard Haven where she makes sculpture and assemblages out of paper, dyeing it first in a gouache bath and working with basic geometric shapes. “Paper’s a very cooperative form,” she says. “And I have a studio that I absolutely love.”

Other artists who will open their studios for the tour are Patricia Carlet, Larry Hepler, Debra Gaines, Warren Gaines, Joan LeLacheur, Lucinda Sheldon, Elizabeth Taft, and Jules Worthington.

A Featherstone committee met over the winter to organize the tour, working to provide geographic and media diversity to the selection of studios and artists.

Second Annual Artist Studio Tour, Featherstone Center for the Arts. Preview of Artists: Friday, Sept. 7, 12–6 pm, Pebble Gallery; Open Studios, Saturday, Sept. 8, and Sunday, Sept. 9, 10 am–4 pm. Reception, Sunday, September 9, 4:30–7 pm, Pebble Gallery. For information, call 507-693-1850 or go to featherstoneart.org.