Friends of Family Planning MV Art Show at the Ag Hall this weekend

Art by the community, for the community.

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"Flight" by Wendy Weldon. —Wendy Weldon

Every Memorial Day weekend, hundreds, if not thousands, of Islanders and visitors head to the Agricultural Hall for what has become for many the unofficial kickoff to the Vineyard summer season. The Friends of Family Planning Martha’s Vineyard Art Show, in its 28th year, has become a much-anticipated tradition, offering an opportunity to welcome back old friends, check in with year-rounders, and see what the vibrant Island art community has been up to over the winter.

The show will be open to the public on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, May 26, 27, and 28. The festivities will kick off on Thursday evening, May 26, with an opening-night reception featuring wine (donated by Our Market), hors d’oeuvres by Herring Run Catering, and music by Jeremy Berlin.

This year, more than 90 artists will participate, showing everything from photography and painting to clothing and jewelry, to taxidermy art by Janet Messineo, and large steel sculptures by Jay Lagemann. The price range makes the show all-inclusive. People can pick up a handmade card or unframed print, or walk home with a painting by an established Vineyard artist.

Well-known Island artists like Wendy Weldon, Alison Shaw, Lanny McDowell, and Peigi Cole-Jolliffe have been part of the show for decades, while every year new artists are added to the growing roster. All of the participants donate a minimum of 50 percent of the profits to Martha’s Vineyard Family Planning. Some, like photographer Bob Avakian, traditionally donate 100 percent. “It’s exciting to see that it’s growing and more people are entering,” says Friends of Family Planning MV vice president Nili Beth Morgan.

Right now, more than ever, the Martha’s Vineyard Family Planning clinic needs the community’s help. “People are certainly worried about what’s going to happen in these uncertain times,” says Ms. Morgan. “It’s so encouraging that people on the Island are worried about the political climate and are as concerned as we are.”

The goal of M.V. Family Planning is to promote gynecological, reproductive, and sexual health care. The clinic, established in 1978, has experienced phenomenal growth in the past few years, and now offers a wide range of clinical, educational, and advocacy programs for both women and men. Among the services offered are STD screenings, morning-after pills, and a vasectomy reimbursement program.

The Friends of Family Planning have been helping to support the clinic for more than 30 years. Just this month, the group was able to make the final mortgage payment on the State Road building that houses the clinic. “We hurried that process along, so that Family Planning will have a permanent home,” Ms. Morgan said. “Now we can start doing some more outreach and fundraising to make the clinic better and more accessible for everyone. Our initiatives include sponsoring equipment and repairs. Our goals of supporting the clinic have become more urgent in what looks to be lean times in terms of funding. We just want to make sure the clinic is here for our community. The numbers in terms of people using the services has continued to grow as access to healthcare has opened up. Still, for those with no insurance, Family Planning also offers a sliding scale.”

As part of the group’s outreach efforts, every year it invites Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and Charter School students to submit designs for the Art Show poster. This year’s winner is Colin Henke. The second, third, and honorable mention winners are, respectively, Destiney Berninger, Davin Tackabury, and Tyla Packish. “We encourage young artists to create, and let classrooms know what we are and what we offer,” said Ms. Morgan.

The annual art show is the Friend’s only major fundraising event, and is the primary resource that enables the group to help the clinic provide much-needed services to the community.

“What’s really wonderful is that the show offers a chance to support the community in two ways,” said Ms. Morgan. “By supporting our artist community and supporting reproductive health.

“It’s really this great relationship between us and the artists. They get the chance to show their work to a huge audience and make a donation through their sales. We always do it at the start of the season to give people a chance to see what everybody’s been working on over the winter, and to support a very important cause.”

Friends of Family Planning Art Show hours: Friday, May 26, from 10 am to 6 pm; Saturday, May 27, from 10 am to 6 pm, and Sunday, May 28, from 10 am to 2 pm. Free parking and admission.

Friends of Family Planning opening-night fundraiser and art show reception, 
Thursday, May 25, from 6 to 8 pm. Tickets are available at the door; $50 donation.