Menemsha’s Creekville Antiques carries treasures and art from long ago

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It’s Creekville Antiques’ second season on Basin Road in Jane Slater’s Old South Antiques space. You might say it was a welcome home for Doug Seward, who grew up above the Menemsha Market. Besides antiques, Seward still consults 10 hours a week for R.M. Packer Co, where he worked full-time. Seward oversees “paintings and Vineyard stuff,” and partner, artist Susan (Suzie) Pacheco, sells her paintings of swimmers and landscapes that hang on their own two walls. Pacheco loves doing the antique shopping for Creekville. She started buying and selling antiques as a teenager, and has been doing it all her life, besides owning a store in Edgartown for 35 years. The jewelry is on consignment from Suzie’s daughter, who owns Leaf Boutique in Brookline. Suzie has “a mid-century section, a ’50s kitchen section, a blue-and-white pottery section, a multicolored glass section, an antiques and majolica” section. All the areas “are color-coordinated because [Suzie] is a painter. A lot of times it’s the color wheel or color sections,” according to Seward. Of course Pacheco maintains a wholesale jewelry business off-Island as well.

I visited Doug Seward at the end of May to see what new art was available this year. He and Suzie just came back from Brimfield, where he says he “didn’t buy much, but Suzie did.” Seward goes to local house sales to buy what he can find, and is always happy to have people bring in work. Otherwise he has collected Vineyard art for years, and goes to his own inventory. This year he’s brought out a number of framed Thomas Hart Benton lithographs that hang behind the main counter. There’s one pencil drawing (c. 1934) of Leo Huberman, a famed social economist and founder of the Monthly Review, who Seward says “used to have a house right across the hill here.” Huberman is the “soda jerk in one of the murals; I’ll show it to you.” Seward pulls out a Benton catalog and opens to a photo of the mural, pointing out Huberman. Tom Benton, his wife Rita, and their son, T.P., all appear in the mural in Normal, Mo.

Seward likes “Gay Head clay a lot, but it’s harder and harder to find; Van Riper models, things made on the Vineyard.” My eye strays to small bottles with handmade ships inside that “came from England, made about 150 years ago,” that were not owned by Islanders, but something Seward just picked up in London because he liked them. Then he’s showing me a glass prism used on ship decks to bring natural light below, made in Edgartown by boatbuilder, artist, and philosopher Manuel Swartz (Roberts), with his mark on the bottom. We head into the main painting gallery, where Seward explains, ”This is a [Benton] drawing he did in 1972 for the Joplin, Mo., City Hall mural. It’s the first place he got a job. This is the third drawing he did to scope it out, what he’s going to change and it gives you an idea how he developed these things.” The letter matted in the center of the frame is “from 1972, Chilmark, his cousin Blanche talks about how tired he is from working on the mural.”

Taking up a sizable space from floor to ceiling is a backdrop painted for Pete Seeger’s Clearwater when they were fundraising to build it in the late 1960s. There are a couple of exceptional hand-painted photographs of the Gay Head Cliffs, something Seward has collected over the years. He has a painting by Tom Benton’s grandson, Anthony Benton Gude, that he “found in Nebraska, of the Keith Farm, just like one his grandfather did.” There’s a watercolor by Paul Beebe, a maritime artist, of the Coast Guard’s Vineyard lightship that sank in the 1944 hurricane. There’s a 1983 painting, likely based on a postcard, of Menemsha in 1930, by contemporary artist James Maddocks, who lives on the Cape. “This one here is by Julius Delbos, one of my favorite painters. My brother and I knew him, and used to watch him paint. Great friend of my mother’s. He used to come in the store at night and have a soda and talk about art. He’s probably the influence that got me started on collecting Vineyard art. Here’s a watercolor by Billy Morrow Jackson, who was here in the ’70s, lived with his wife, an artist, in a house in Gay Head. He’d do a painting, then a print. He always signed his work in an area that was white.” Sure, I could go on, but you’ll have a lot more fun if you head over and talk to Doug Seward in person. He’s got plenty of great stories about the art on the walls and growing up in Menemsha’s heyday.

 

Jane Slater will work at the store on Mondays beginning June 11. Store hours are 11 am to 4 pm, Monday to Saturday, and 12 to 4 pm on Sunday. For more information or questions, call 774-563-8344.