If you stop by the Night Heron Gallery and find yourself in the corner space occupied by the work of Ingrid Goff-Maidoff, you’re likely to get caught up in her very unique world, and perhaps end up spending more time than anticipated examining her small treasures. The writer and artist creates a multitude of little inspirational gift items, which are all as lovely as they are uplifting.
Among her trove of little treasures are small hand-bound books with short poems and quotes, beautiful collaged cards with little talismans attached, tiny bottles with hidden messages, paper-covered secret boxes and packets, ornaments, earrings and much more. Lovely Japanese printed paper and crinkly mulberry paper from Thailand feature in many of the items, giving the display a very colorful look — like a garden in bloom.
Goff-Maidoff began her artistic career as a songwriter and poet and eventually found multiple ways to transpose her words into lovely little gifts. “I’m just trying to send love and blessings out into the world,” she says.
The perfect example of one of the ways that the artist and writer is spreading her message of joy is an item called the Namaste Love & Oneness Bundle. Each beautifully wrapped package contains 10 magical slips of paper with quotes, affirmations, prayers, and the meaning of Namaste, as well as a Buddha charm, a rose quartz heart, and a miniature paper flower. The Happy Lucky Blessing Bag contains 12 little wrapped packages with a small gifts, a wish card and a blessing — perfect for party favors, place settings or stocking stuffers.
Goff-Maidoff has written and published over 20 books of her poems. She originally sold many of them as hand-bound books with beautiful covers, sometimes embellished with beads. Her books have proven so popular that she eventually offered them in more cost-conscious paperback versions.
Two of the poet’s most popular books are “Simple Graces for Every Meal” and “Good Mother Welcome: Inspiration for New Mothers.” Other titles include “The Honey Sutras,” “Postcards from the Landscape of Joy, Moonlight & Remembrance and the Joy Book.
The volumes vary in size and scope. Some feature Goff-Maidoff’s poems, others incorporate inspirational quotes from others. The tiniest book — “The Little Book of Happiness” — is about one inch by one and a half inches. “I decided I was going to write a manifesto and it’s going to be this small,” says the poet, demonstrating the size with forefinger and thumb.
Goff-Maidoff comes from an artistic family. Her great grandfather, Arthur Spear, whose work has been exhibited at the Carnegie Institute, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the National Arts Club, created beautiful dreamlike paintings of nymphs, fauns, and other imaginary figures. Her father, Clark Goff, created popular pen-and-ink cards, and her sister ,Heather Goff, is well known for her ceramics, paintings, and drawings. Heather and Ingrid performed musically as the Goff Sisters while in high school. Goff-Maidoff illustrated her first book with her sister’s linoleum block prints and has used her great-grandfather’s images for journals and book covers.
“I grew up with art,” says Goff-Maidoff. “It just seemed like a natural way to make a living.” Born and raised in Sudbury, with summers spent on the Vineyard, she attended Kenyon College as a drama major. There she met her husband, Charter School teacher Jonah Maidoff. After moving to Los Angeles, she focused on her songwriting and performing. She produced two albums and even appeared on the TV show “Star Search” at one time. Eventually the couple moved to the Vineyard, settling on a lot behind the Goff farm.
With two kids to raise, Goff-Maidoff chose to switch to poetry and art. “There was no way I could produce music and be the mom I wanted to be,” she says. “That’s how I morphed into poetry and having a home business.”
Goff-Maidoff started showing her work at the Vineyard Artisans Festival during its inaugural year. She still sells there as well as at Night Heron Gallery — a cooperative operated and manned by 10 Island artists and artisans. She also sells wholesale to a number of museum shops off-Island and she offers all of her products online
Working in the gallery has proven to be a nice change of pace for the poet. “I work in my basement,” she says. “It’s very solitary. This gets you out on Main Street. The lovely thing about Martha’s Vineyard is that it feels like the world comes to you here.”
Customers return again and again to purchase gifts from Goff-Maidoff’s Tending Joy line. She notes that a palliative doctor in Connecticut continues to buy multiple copies of “The Joy Book” to give to his patients. She also recalls a story that a customer once told her. The woman purchased one of the mini boxes of inspirational quotes and had a habit of giving out the little slips of paper to people she met. Ten years after receiving one of the affirmations, a friend of the woman’s pulled one of the little affirmations out of his wallet and told her that the quote had helped him get through a very rough time.
“You never know how many ripples you’re sending out there,” says Goff-Maidoff. I feel very blessed that I get to this for my work. It’s a ministry of sorts.”