Terry Crimmen of West Tisbury painted this year’s Fair poster, an image of a British Saddleback pig, ears flopping forward over its eyes. This was Mr. Crimmen’s first entry into the poster contest, and he’s a relative newcomer to the Island art scene. Although he entered to win, he knew that it was a serious competition, and didn’t overestimate his chances. His longtime girlfriend, Tara Kenny, says that he when he got the call from Eleanor Neubert, he didn’t quite hear what she was telling him.
“He said, ‘Who won?…Who won?'” Ms. Kenny recalls.
Mr. Crimmen has been painting houses on the Vineyard since he moved here in 1994, working for several painting contractors before going out on his own a few years ago. He specializes in faux finishing, but also does a variety of other work, including furniture and oil painting restoration.
“I went to an arts high school in Winter Park, Florida,” he says. “I went to work as an industrial artist for a visual display company down in Fort Lauderdale. I did anything, air brush work, mostly.”
A few years ago, Ms. Kenny’s mother bought her a three-day art seminar off-Island, so he decided to join her for the workshop.
“It was over on the Cape, with Bill Maloney,” Mr. Crimmen says. “He was a lot of fun. Before I went to that lesson, I was just painting in acrylic; now it’s strictly oil.”
After taking the seminar and making the switch to oil painting, he began showing his work in galleries for the first time, first at the Seaworthy Gallery in Vineyard Haven, and now at PIKNIK in Oak Bluffs, when they can keep his paintings in stock.
Mr. Crimmen says that he paints in sprees, but he’s careful about what he puts out to sell. “I literally sold every painting I had out there,” he says, but there’s a pile of work on the studio floor.
“Those are all duds,” he says. “I have another hundred of them in the basement.”
He currently has several paintings on his easels, including images of cows from The Grey Barn and Farm, a buoy near Cuttyhunk, and Packer’s Yard.
He entered the Fair poster contest with a clear strategy. “I did work on it for about two and a half months,” he says. He began by looking back through fair posters from recent years.
“Some of my favorites are Allen Whiting’s, the girl on the Scrambler with her hair going straight back, but those have been done. I just didn’t feel like I could do it. I just thought, ‘single figure. I can make that one strong.'”
He says that he painted a lot of different animals before choosing the pig. “I had some cows and chickens. I was originally convinced it was going to be a chicken, but that wasn’t working. I tried a sheep, too.” He also noticed that there hadn’t been a pig on the fair poster in a while.
His was confident of his work, but not so confident that he thought he would win.
“Of course I was surprised that I won,” he says. “I knew Traeger [Di Pietro] was in there, and a couple of other artists. When I saw their posters, I didn’t think I was going to win.”
The pig image now graces this year’s Fair poster, along with tee-shirts, the Fair Program and Premium Book, and more.
“It’s pretty amazing, just seeing your art out there,” Mr. Crimmen says. “When you paint something, and sell it, it’s gone, and you never see it again. I think seeing it is the neatest thing about this — it’s your art, and it’s out there.
“I have always loved the posters and the tee-shirts for the Fair. Occasionally I have a client who has an old Fair poster and it’s brown-spotted and moldy and I’ll clean it all up for them. Fair posters, they mean things to people out here.”