Finding her place – for photographer Phyllis Dunn, it’s here

Finding her place – for photographer Phyllis Dunn, it’s here

The artist next to her photograph, "Evening Light." — Photo by Ralph Stewart

At 72, Phyllis Dunn packed her bags, sold her furniture and other household goods, and moved from her lifelong home in Connecticut to the Vineyard by herself. “I moved here because I knew it was an artist’s colony. Painters, writers, musicians. It’s my world. I wanted to share my work.”

Her work involves photography, a hobby that she still pursues using film as opposed to digital technology. “I’m not in the position to purchase digital equipment and digital is a whole other language,” says Ms. Dunn, “I use a Canon Elan that I’ve had for about five years and I love it. I have three lenses and all kinds of filters.”

A sampling of the artist’s work currently hangs downstairs at the Vineyard Haven Library as part of its Art in the Stacks series. With an artist’s eye for detail and striking images, she has captured scenes from around the Island: snow covered stone walls, a Menemsha fishing shack, unpopulated beaches, a field with a horse.

“I’m not big on people,” she says. “I like old windows, old doors.” A few of the photos on display are close ups of close ups of lighthouses – windows and a spiral staircase.

Also included in the show are a couple of iconic images of New York City, including a shot of the Twin Towers on a clear, bright summer day.

“Like so many people, you start off taking pictures of your children and activities,” says Ms. Dunn. “Back in Connecticut I joined a camera club. I was still working. It was a hobby. I was in the club for about 20 years until I moved here 14 months ago.” She has kept up with her photography here despite moving three times in just over a year. Currently she is settled into an apartment in Woodside Village in Vineyard Haven.

Retired from a lifetime career in administration, she keeps very busy on Island. She is a member of a handful of knitting clubs, hikes, and volunteers for Vineyard Village at Home, an organization that provides seniors with rides to doctors appointments and errands. “It’s a marvelous organization. I get so much satisfaction out of it. I’ve learned a lot about the Island and met some very interesting people.”

Ms. Dunn, who does a lot of her own matting and framing, has shown her work at Anchors in Edgartown, the WorkOut and Tennis Center at the airport, and at the annual Family Planning Art Show in May.

Last summer, she sold prints of her photos at the Featherstone Flea Market, held every Tuesday. Among her offerings were a selection of New York photos. Her home in Connecticut was not far from the city and she spent quite a lot of time shooting there. “I love the architecture. I love the lines,” she says. “At Featherstone you get a lot of tourists from New York and Long Island. They love the architecture shots.”

Ms. Dunn had vacationed on the Vineyard for about 10 years when she decided to make the move. Friends back in Norwalk found it quite gutsy or her to pick up and move on her own. However, she would tell them, “You just have to follow what’s inside of you. If it doesn’t work, what’s the worst that can happen?”

Periodically, she goes back to visit friends and her three children who all live in Connecticut.

Still, she has found a home here and her lovely photos show her appreciation for the Island’s beauty. “I just have to follow my dreams,” she says. “Norwalk is not for me.”