Labor Day Artisans Festival is back and bigger than ever

0
Walker Roman, left, puts finishing touches on a skein of yarn while Danielle Mulcahy, right, spins raw fibers into yarn at the Artisans Festival on August 28. Walker and Danielle are the faces behind Barnyard Saints, a fine art and fiber craft duo based on the Island. —Stacey Rupolo

If you haven’t had a chance to make it to the Vineyard Artisans Festival this summer, Labor Day weekend will provide an opportunity to view a diverse selection of artwork and crafts in many media. Even if you are a regular visitor to the biweekly festival, the Labor Day weekend festival is the largest show of the year, featuring the work of more than 75 artists and artisans.

Some artists who don’t exhibit regularly will make special appearances at the Labor Day shows, including metal artist Barney Zeitz and furniture makers Larry Hepler and David Wiley.

Mr. Hepler has been creating timeless wooden furniture for over 20 years. His designs rely on gentle, sweeping curves, flaring shapes, and subtle details that work with the nature of the wood. The work of cabinet and furniture maker David Wiley draws on traditional furniture from around the world and through the centuries, from 12th century China to the 1930s Art Deco masters. Sculptor Barney Zeitz designs contemporary metalwork sculptures, and has developed his own unique style of fused and bonded stained glass. Mr. Zeitz has created commissioned public art pieces for many venues, including the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Providence, R.I., and the Wang Center for Performing Arts in Boston.

All three of the above artists were among the original members of the Martha’s Vineyard Artisans Festival, which began in 1995.

Some relative newcomers to the festival include Kate Fournier, Ed Russell, Tara Reynolds, and first-time exhibitors mother/daughter clothing designers Marlene diStefano and Randi Sylvia.

Ms. Fournier’s line, Noepe Designs, includes hand-drawn textiles, silkscreened and sewn into a range of unique, functional bags. Mr. Russell makes artistically crafted salt and pepper grinders from mixed woods. Illustrator/artist Tara Reynolds creates fun, colorful pictures using a mixture of collage and acrylic painting. She has also published a beautiful animal-themed ABC book for children.

Ms. DiStefano and Ms. Sylvia will make their Artisans Festival debut this weekend. The two have had their own clothing line since 2012, and have been featured for a number of years in Martha’s Vineyard Fashion Week events.

A couple of other talented families now have a history with the Artisans Festival. Taylor Stone, who designs whimsical cut-paper illustrations and sculptures, is the daughter of Laurie Stone, who once exhibited her popular meticulously crafted dolls.

Althea Freeman-Miller’s mother, Leslie Freeman, showed her pottery for many years. Ms. Freeman-Miller is following in the tradition by showing her lovely handcarved block-print work.

Talent even runs in the family of the festival’s organizer, Andrea Rogers, who sells lavender products. Her daughter Jamie Rogers has been exhibiting her blacksmith, silversmith, stained glass, and tin artwork for a number of years. Just this past year, she started showing examples of her latest venture — pointillism abstract paintings that have been very well received.

The Artisans Festival helps to foster the Island’s artistic tradition by awarding a scholarship every year. One of the past recipients, Sarah Thompson, will exhibit her metalwork jewelry at the Labor Day Festival. “It’s great to see it come full circle,” Ms. Rogers said.

It’s always surprising to see just how much artistic talent the Island has spawned. All of the participants in the Martha’s Vineyard Artisans Festival are full-time Islanders.

The Summer Artisan’s Festival will continue on Sundays through Sept. 25.
Vineyard Artisans Labor Day Show: Friday, Sept. 2, 5:30-8:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 3-4, 10 am to 5 pm. The Ag Hall, West Tisbury. For more information, visit vineyardartisans.com.