A boatload of art by a fleet of Martha's Vineyard artists
Photo by Gwyn McAllister
Surrounded by water. That's how one might feel on a visit to the annual Holiday Maritime Art Show at the Sail Martha's Vineyard headquarters in Vineyard Haven. Each of the scenes by a variety of local artists features the ocean in some way, although the perspective varies greatly from artist to artist.
A visit to the show, which opened last weekend and runs through December 21, also provides the opportunity to be surrounded by a very good representation of the Island's artistic talent.
There are paintings and photography by about 25 locals including a number of established artists as well as some less well-known names. The prices range widely, from $30 for an unframed photo to $8,000 for a striking, mid-sized Rez Williams painting (one of two of his pieces in the show).
The sixth annual holiday sale is a benefit for Sail M.V., an organization that offers youth programs for Island children in sailing, seamanship, and wooden boat building; helps bring historic vessels to local harbors; and provides opportunities for all ages in maritime education, rowing, and sailing. The artists receive a generous 75 percent of the proceeds, though some of them donate a portion, or all of their profit, back to Sail M.V.
Among the better known artists participating are Ray Ellis, Ovid Ward, Jules Worthington, Thaw Malin, Dan Vanlandingham, Marston Clough, and Donna Straw. There are also a number of first-time contributors to the show. John Athearn is showing a series of small watercolor scenes for under $100. The attractive little works feature color washes with miniscule sharply defined figures in the foreground.
One wall features colorful impressionistic landscapes – with just a glimpse of the ocean – by Elizabeth Taft. Alejandro Carreno's brightly colored fish painted on boards add a nice contemporary angle to the show. Nancy Vietor has contributed a colorful Menemsha scene done in acrylics.
Perhaps the most eye-catching piece in the show is a large tapestry by Julia Mitchell. The expert fiber artist has created a striking depiction of an antique map from woven wool and silk on linen. The piece, called "Chart I: Age of Discovery," features subtle blending of colors, an interesting jagged coastline and a focal point of a red sunburst compass. The 3- by 5-foot wall hanging is a great statement piece that would appeal to even the least nautically minded.
Ed Schulman, for the second year in a row, is showing a number of his unique, effectively crude paintings on board. Nick Thayer, best known for his pottery, contributed a pretty watercolor landscape.
Among the photographers represented, there's also a wide range of styles. Alison Shaw's large black and white misty seascape with the ferry in the background is hypnotic. Another large photo — a close-up in color — is a good example of the wooden boat series done by J.A. Serusa with a large format camera.
Janet Woodcock displays her talent for capturing mood. A sepia toned shot of the Menemsha Harbor with buoys and traps in the foreground and the ghost image of a fishing boat as backdrop is a wonderfully timeless take on a familiar scene.
Jhenn Watts's small mounted emulsion lifts of Vineyard seascapes and Debra Gaines's encaustics are unique, stylized twists on classic photography.
A handful of other photographers are also represented including L.A. Brown, Cynthia da Silva, and Richard Clarke, whose striking unframed prints are among the most affordable pieces in the show at $30 and $50.
There are other inexpensive gift options such as mini oil paintings on blocks by Marston Clough, photo tea towels by L.A. Brown, cards, and a couple of calendars, including the popular Vineyard Seadogs calendar by Lisa Vanderhoop.
All in all, it's an interesting show with a great deal of variety.
"It's so cool that when we say maritime art, we get such a range of media and interpretations," said Hope Callen, Sail M.V.'s administrative director. "We like to think of ourselves as all things maritime. We have maritime films, lecture series, and we're happy to display maritime art."
Maritime Art Sale, Dec. 8–23, 10 am–4 pm on weekdays, 12 noon–4 pm on weekends, Sail M.V. office, 110 Main St., Vineyard Haven. Benefits Sail M.V. For more information, call 508-696-7644 or visit sailmv.org.