Authors Posts by Gwyn McAllister

Gwyn McAllister


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Martha's Vineyard Times file pho

“Haunted Island: 20 Year Anniversary Edition,” Down East Books, Camden, Maine, Paperback $14.95. Available at Bunch of Grapes, Edgartown Books, The Secret Garden in Oak Bluffs, and on Amazon.

Holly Nadler likes to scare people. For years she operated a business conducting ghost tours around the Island. She’s also written three books dealing with the supernatural — two about Vineyard ghosts and one on of Boston’s more cosmopolitan spirit counterparts. Her latest offering is a revised and updated edition of the book that got her into the ghost business in the first place: Haunted Island.

But though Ms. Nadler has a fondness — and a real talent — for giving people goosebumps, you can always sense a twinkle in her eye and a sly giggle as she recounts the tales of the ghosts and ghoulies who, like many Vineyard transplants, have found a home on the Vineyard, and just can’t seem to tear themselves away.

It’s not surprising that Ms. Nadler has a tendency to find some lightheartedness in even the darkest of tales. A former television comedy writer (Laverne and Shirley, Barney Miller, etc.) Ms. Nadler continues to have a knack for looking at life from a somewhat skewed perspective.

Still, despite the fact that the stories in Haunted Island are told with wit and humor, there are some truly scary moments in the book. Some of the spookier tales involve a creepy quintet of ragged ancient mariners invading the bedrooms of young female visitors of a Victorian Inn, a half man/half beast creature roaming the woods of Aquinnah, and one particularly haunted house that seems to drive otherwise mild-mannered tenants to horrifically violent acts.

Haunted Island was originally published in 1994. Since then, Ms. Nadler has become, in her words, “a repository for Vineyard ghost stories.” Apparently, folks approach her all the time to unburden the personal stories that they almost refuse to give credence to themselves. In her second book, Vineyard Supernatural, the author mined this wealth of gathered stories. In the updated version of Haunted Island she has dipped further into that stockpile to add new tales, and has gone back to the sources of some of the original stories to provide updates and new information.

Haunted Island includes 27 stories set at locations all around the Vineyard. From Oak Bluffs cottages to old Edgartown hostelries (the spirit population seems to be particularly fond of the Island’s inns) to remote up-Island settings, ghosts appear in a myriad of forms, and with as many temperaments. There are sad ghosts still mourning some long-ago tragedy and helpful ghosts watching out for homeowners’ children, sparking romance or even, in one case, saving the lives of a young family. There are also a few genuinely malicious ghosts in Haunted Island.

Flesh-and-blood characters also populate the stories of Ms. Nadler’s book. And, just as she has a talent for bringing the dead to life (if you will), she is also adept at painting intimate portraits of the living population of the Vineyard. The book’s locales are also evocatively rendered and, when it comes to setting a creepy tone, Ms. Nadler is expert. In the first tale — a new addition about the old Marine Hospital — the author describes the archetypal dark and stormy night:

“A moonless night over Vineyard Haven harbor, late 1890’s. Wind has gusted all day, and now it plays havoc with the ink black waters, frothing them in every direction. Lightning discharges and fades, disclosing silver masts of ships anchored in these turbulent seas, sails furled, halyards clanging like bells rung by demons.”

In Haunted Island, we get a good glimpse of the Vineyard throughout many eras. With thorough researched (one can just picture Ms. Nadler poring over dusty old documents and outdated newspapers) she attempts to make some sense out of why some ghosts just refuse to rest in peace. Through a combination of factual information and speculation, in each story, the author conjectures on the possible causes of hauntings, but ultimately, she figuratively just throws up her hands and has to admit that the otherworldly just seem to have minds of their own.

Perhaps, like many of us, once they’ve managed to secure a home on the Vineyard, these ghosts just can’t seem to let it go.

Bunch of Grapes reading and signing, Friday, Oct. 24, 7 pm.

Oak Bluffs Library reading and signing, Thursday, Oct. 30, 6 pm.

The Anchors luncheon and reading about the ghost in the Anchors’ attic, Friday, Oct. 31, 1 pm.

Edgartown Books, book signing, Saturday, November 1, 11 am to 1 pm.

"Menemsha" by John Holladay

John Holladay of Vineyard Haven was recently honored by the New England Watercolor Society with inclusion in the 14th Biennial North American Open Show. His painting “Menemsha” was one of 75 works selected from over 500 applicants. Artists from Boston, Brooklyn, and all over the New England states made up the final pool of watercolor paintings. Mr. Holladay is the only Vineyard representative. The show will hang at the Plymouth Art Center through November 8. All of the work can be viewed online at

Mr. Holladay has been teaching painting at Featherstone for the past 12 years. He exhibits his work there, at the Vineyard Artisans Festival, and at the Louisa Gould Gallery in Vineyard Haven. A master of many media — watercolor, acrylics, oil pastels, pen and ink, graphic and computer art — Mr. Holladay has enjoyed great success for his poster art, as well as his paintings. He also teaches graphic design at Falmouth High School.

Featherstone is currently offering watercolor and acrylic classes with Mr. Holladay on Saturdays. Visit for more information.

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"Owen Park Breakfast." —Art by Marston Clough

Unlike the recent Art of Chocolate Festival, the current show at Featherstone Center for the Arts features edibles, but not of the tangible variety. A collection of food-themed paintings, photos, drawings, and collage makes up the exhibition, called “Eat Your Art Out.” Like many of the group shows hosted by the arts campus, there’s a wide variety of media and styles.

"Scattered Tomatoes." —Art by Sheila Fane
“Scattered Tomatoes.” —Art by Sheila Fane

Two of the most colorful and eye-catching pieces are hung side by side on the back wall. Mary French’s huge acrylic of a sliced tomato has a bit of a pop art sensibility. Cynthia Wyman’s “Happy Peppers” channels Van Gogh’s fondness for bright colors and bold outlines.

Not surprisingly, still lifes abound. Mary-Louise Rouffe has contributed a lovely apple painting done with a lot of subtle texturing. Ruth Kirchmeir employed her woodcut block printing prowess to create two endearing prints: one of a bowl of plums and one with bulbs of garlic.

Jules Worthington exhibits his mastery of many styles with two very attractive oil paintings: one very traditional still life with cured meats and cheese, the other a stylized depiction of squashes on a vine with falling maple leaves. Jean Cargill also chose to depict food on the vine with her very sweet small watercolor of a tomato plant and flitting insects.

In some cases, the Featherstone staff made a point of grouping similar subject matter together. Chetta Kelly’s very voluptuous single pear “portrait” hangs next to Debby Rosenthal’s grouping of the same fruit done in a simple, rustic style. In the back room of the gallery, Angela Egerton and Fern Vaughn offer up two takes on the same still life grouping of fruits and vegetables.

A number of Island photographers have pointed their lenses toward edible subjects. Anne Reveruzzi’s color shots of a meat market window with hanging prosciutto and a waitress behind the counter of a gelato shop capture Italy in all its gastronomic glory. Molly Glasgow’s beautiful photo has the look of a still life painting with a very large blank space above a table arrangement of edibles.

The medium of collage is represented in the show by a couple of works in seaweed, including a trio of cupcakes by Kathy Poehler, a lovely design work made from dried greens, herbs, and flowers by Ellie Bates, and two pieces by Daisy Lifton created using an Asian torn paper technique. Ms. Lifton’s chosen subjects are, appropriately, sushi and an egg roll.

“Eat Your Art Out” is another great example of the Featherstone staff’s ingenuity in coming up with new themes every year for their multiple group shows.

Linda Thompson and Monica Miller sample chocolate honey and chocolate scented cream. from Ms. Miller's company, Martha's Vineyard Honey. —Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop

Chocolate, the subject of countless coffee mug and refrigerator magnet quotes, was the focus of Featherstone Center for the Arts last weekend. The 11th annual Art of Chocolate Festival brought chocoholics from all over to make the pilgrimage to the shrine of the cocoa bean.

Billie Jean Sullivan and Tom Lankiewicz toast chocolate martinis over their giant "Box of Chocolates." —Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop
Billie Jean Sullivan and Tom Lankiewicz toast chocolate martinis over their giant “Box of Chocolates.” —Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop

Every October, Featherstone puts out a call to bakers and chocolatiers — amateur and professional — to donate creations for what has to be the most fantastic assemblage of chocolate goodies outside of Willy Wonka’s workshop. On Friday, guests at the preview party were treated to an all-you-can-eat experience. On Saturday and Sunday, visitors had to be a little more prudent with their choices. For $5 folks could sample two items, for $10 they were allotted five selections from the dozens of choices.

And what a tough decision. There were voluptuous cakes from the Black Dog and the Cheesecake Factory, creamy mousse from the Slice of Life, decadent flourless cake bites from Lucky Hank’s, chewy macaroons from the Scottish Bakehouse, and chocolate chip studded pastries from Waterside Market and Orange Peel Bakery. Plus, every imaginable type of hand-dipped chocolate from local candy makers.

Many of Featherstone’s cadre of artists contributed to the bounty as well. Marston Clough once again donated his scrumptious chocolate truffles. Karen Hough created a wonderfully light, not overwhelmingly chocolate, flourless cake with almonds. Nancy Blank offered her popular peanut butter buckeyes and Pam Flamm baked up two gluten-free offerings: brownies and chocolate chip cookies.

Adding something new to the mix for the preview party this year, the Featherstone staff set up stations where patrons could create works of art inspired, of course, by chocolate.

Marilyn and Denys Wortman with a silkscreen print. —Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop
Marilyn and Denys Wortman with a silkscreen print. —Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop

“We call it the Art of Chocolate Festival,” Featherstone director Ann Smith said at the introduction to the preview party. “But we’ve never had guests participate in art before. We want you to experience chocolate with all of the senses,”  And, although some stuck to the taste bud experience, washing the goodies down with chocolate martinis and assorted cordials, many of the guests indulged their creative, as well as epicurean passions, by trying their hand at the arts and crafts projects.

Veronica Modini manned a screen-printing table where guests could make their own chocolate festival memento poster. Emmy Brown helped people make monoprints in chocolatey colors. Minor Knight encouraged guests to get creative using an array of sheet cakes as canvas and fun toppings as decorations. With the help of visitors, Billie Sullivan created two fun graphic style paintings of an oversized box of chocolates and a giant cake.

Monica Miller set up a table where guests could sample two of her Skye botanicals chocolate-based scents and a specialty product from Martha’s Vineyard Honey created by feeding bees concentrated cocoa extract.

Saturday’s rain drove visitors in hordes to the festival. “It was wall to wall people at one point,” Ms. Smith said. The samplers included lots of kids who invariably left with happy, chocolate-smeared faces.

A chocolate "Mona Lisa" from Cakes by Liz. —Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop
A chocolate “Mona Lisa” from Cakes by Liz. —Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop

The Saturday and Sunday selection was augmented with a few extra items including two of the most popular — a chocolate dipping fountain and a sundae station featuring hot fudge sauce (a festival exclusive) from Chilmark Chocolates. There were also a few items where chocolate and art collided. Two enormous Cakes by Liz “Jackson Pollack” cakes with colorful splatters of frosting were quickly devoured, as was a giant brownie decorated with a rendering of the Mona Lisa. The most photographed goodie, according to Ms. Smith, was the chocolate covered sushi, made entirely of sweets and complete with frosting wasabi and espresso dipping sauce.

The Featherstone staff will get a week off to recover from chocolate overload before the gallery reopens next Sunday with another food-inspired show. Eat Your Art Out will feature works in many media focusing on food. But this time around, none of it will be edible.

For more information, visit

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"It's Me" in Oak Bluffs is offering 50% off all merchandise. —Photo by Gwyn McAllister

Christopher Columbus earned fame for his legendary sail to the new land. Now, Columbus Day is associated with sales of another kind. With a number of Vineyard stores closing for the season and many more making room for winter items, Columbus Day weekend is a great time to shop for bargains. Here are some of the sales we discovered on an exploratory circumnavigation of the Island.

Vineyard Haven

Now is a great time to check out C.B. Stark‘s vast selection of fine jewelry, Island charms, and watches. Everything (except for some lines by Vineyard designers) is 20 percent off.

Alley Cat will also have a 20 percnet store-wide sale for the weekend, with summer clothing and shoes reduced to 50 percent off. You can always find something fun and unique among the racks, shoe shelves, and jewelry case at this gem of a Vineyard Haven boutique.

Juliska’s top floor outlet is always full of bargains. This weekend’s special sale has everything upstairs going for 50-75 percent off. Discontinued lines of dishes, pillows, and more are deeply discounted.


This is a great time to shop at one of the Island’s most popular jewelry stores. Claudia — at both its Edgartown and Vineyard Haven locations — features lines from noted jewelry designers (David Yurman, Pandora, and many more) and jewelry by local artisans, as well as perfume, bags, and more, and this weekend almost everything is 20 percent off.

Bryn Walker’s back sale room is almost as spacious as the front area of the store. There are always lots of bargains to be found on their comfortable yet stylish cotton, linen, and other luxe fabric designs. For the holiday weekend, the Edgartown location’s sale will expand to the entire stock, including brand-new items, making everything 10–75 percent off. Bryn Walker Vineyard Haven has a fantastic sale section, too.

Outrageous will be closing for the season at the end of the month, and they’re clearing out their stock of unique women’s fashions, shoes and accessories. Practically everything in the store is half-off this weekend.

Vintage Jewelry features some old and some new costume jewelry along with handbags, scarves and all sorts of cool vintage and retro finds. It’s a great place to browse and this weekend all merchandise is 20–50 percent off.

Rags’s annual Columbus Day sale is a popular destination for fans of their pretty, preppy women’s fashion. While the summer stuff is deeply discounted (there are racks of long-sleeved dresses in fun prints for $39) even the newest arrivals are included in the storewide 30 percent off sale. Check out lots of new arrivals from Yala, Dizzy Lizzy, and Gretchen Scott. Even the cashmere is on sale, and Lucky Jeans are 50 percent off. Stock up for the winter.

The men can find great bargains too, at the League of Gentlemen, where all of their vintage inspired clothes (except the tees) are 50 percent off.

Oak Bluffs

Galadriel’s will have a 20 percent storewide sale all weekend. Jewelry galore, plus crystals, beads, shells, and all sorts of interesting little finds can be discovered in this pretty shop which is great for browsing or shopping early for stocking stuffers.

It’s Me has had a 50 percent off storewide sale going since the end of the summer. Now is the last chance to check out their fun and trendy collection of women’s clothing and accessories. There are plenty of sweaters and ponchos for the upcoming chilly weather, but the store will close for the season as of Columbus Day.

Eastaway will also close its doors for the season after this weekend.  Their entire stock of men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories is at least 50 percent off.

Craftworks is featuring discounts on a few different lines for the holiday weekend. Echo of the Dreamer jewelry, Kinzig lamps, and Sticks furniture is all 20 percent off. There’s always plenty to admire at this eclectic shop chock full of jewelry, housewares and more by American artisans.


Pandora’s Box in Menemsha is hosting their popular annual end-of-season sale this weekend. Check out their great selection of winter fashion, including shoes and boots.

Don’t see your favorite store on the list? Check out our weekly list of Martha’s Vineyard retail sales.

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Vineyard Haven Harbor. —Photo by Michael Blanchard

A newly published book of photos features stunning shots from all around the Vineyard, focusing on quiet places, spectacular skies, sunrises, sunsets, moonlit nights and nature in all her glory. But Michael Blanchard’s book Fighting for My Life isn’t all about pretty pictures. It’s a testimony to the life he has discovered since getting sober five years ago.

“The Vineyard is my spiritual home,” Mr. Blanchard said in a recent phone interview. He works as the chief operating officer for a health care company in Maine but spends every weekend at the Edgartown home that he shares with his wife, Linda. “I live on the rocky coast of Maine, but I don’t want to sit there in the evening and edit Maine photos. I can spend four or five hours messing with these [Vineyard] photos to make it feel like I felt when I visited there.”

Mr. Blanchard begins the memoir intro to the book with a chapter titled, The End. It details the a downward spiral that terminated in his third DUI arrest in three months. “I had reached that point alcoholics call the bottom,” Mr. Blanchard writes. “That cold and lonely realization that life itself is impossible to contemplate in the absence of alcohol, but knowing the drug has destroyed the very essence of your soul.”

With the help of a sympathetic doctor, Mr. Blanchard was able to overcome thoughts of suicide and commit himself to a three-month in-patient rehabilitation program. Upon returning to Maine and his job as chief operating officer of a health care business, Mr. Blanchard attended AA meetings and managed to stay sober. However, he realized that there was something lacking in his life, until he began spending time on the Vineyard, and then turning his newfound passion for a place into an outlet for creative expression.

In the book, Mr. Blanchard writes, “I discovered an emotional tie to a geographic location I couldn’t explain. My walks on the beaches and cliffs stirred emotions often leading to tears of joy — and I didn’t need alcohol to connect to this mysterious energy. Amazing — truly a miracle.”

Mr. Blanchard further realized that by capturing the vistas that inspired him with his camera, and editing the pictures until they represented the mood that the scenes inspired in him, he could hold onto that magical quality while giving his life a new focus.

“I’d never picked up a camera before,” Mr. Blanchard told The Times. “I started watching videos about photography while I was working out on the elliptical every night. I learned how to edit. It completely absorbed me. I didn’t have to think about staying sober. It kind of liberated my brain. What I found is if you’re really passionate about something, the recovery takes care of itself.”

While using his newfound passion as therapy, Mr. Blanchard began posting his beautiful images on Facebook. Soon, he had thousands of followers. The Facebook postings eventually led to a website, where people could purchase the images, a calendar of Vineyard photos, and inclusion among the collection at the Island Art Gallery in Vineyard Haven.

With the book Fighting for My Life, Mr. Blanchard has taken his mission one step further. He has written a brief introduction about his journey from active alcoholic to a sober life, and explains how he uses photography as a tool in his recovery process.

The book is divided into 16 chapters, each featuring a lesson. Subject headings include Accepting Change, Being Grateful, Letting Go, and Finding Community. Each section includes a paragraph by the author with his thoughts on the topic. Many incorporate motivational quotes. The inspirational messages express what Mr. Blanchard has learned along the road to recovery, and they offer hope to others fighting the disease of addiction.

However, even those who are not plagued with substance abuse issues can appreciate the optimism and advice on living life to its fullest. Taken simply as a book of photography, the book will appeal to all who love the Vineyard.

The images are stunning and evocative. From a sunrise at Felix Neck, to a full moon over South Beach, to a close up of swans flying, every picture captures the mystical quality of the Island. Details like the weathered boards of the walkway to Long Point Beach and speckled rocks in Aquinnah are as important to Mr. Blanchard as the dramatic skies and striking color contrasts that he often captures. Textures like the craggy surface of the Gay Head Cliffs and rippled sand on an uninhabited beach attest to the heightened awareness of an observer who has fully given himself over to his surroundings.

Mr. Blanchard explains his process in the book. “I frequently use High Dynamic Range methods in merging multiple exposures to bring out the detail,” he writes. “I don’t alter images by cutting and pasting backgrounds or other techniques that alter the basic construct of the photo. I edit the photos to complete the process of expressing what that moment meant to me.”

A grateful Mr. Blanchard hopes to one day be able to give something back to the community. He is currently completing a masters degree in psychology and a program at UMass Boston to become licensed as an addiction counselor. His ambition is to one day work with young addicts.

The author/photographer has become involved with the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services New Paths outpatient recovery program. He is donating $5 from the sale of each book to the program. “I realized that the Vineyard was struggling with addiction services,” he says. “The program funding for New Paths is ending in a year.”

“Part of my mission is to inspire others,” Mr. Blanchard says. “It’s the processes, not the outcome. I have no idea where this is going to go. Every night if I go home and do this instead of drinking, it’s a successful night.”

Mr. Blanchard will launch his new book at an art show and signing on Saturday, Oct. 13, from 4-6 pm at the office of Homes on Martha’s Vineyard, Post Office Square, Edgartown. A donation of $5 for every book will go to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, which is a co-sponsor of the event. For more information, contact Jan Pogue at Vineyard Stories, 508-221-2338 or

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For the past 20 years, director/producer Bess O’Brien has been making films that deal with issues such as heroin addiction, domestic violence, and the foster care system. Her latest film, The Hungry Heart, focuses on the very real problem of prescription drug addiction, especially among young people. It spotlights Fred Holmes, a pediatrician in a rural Vermont town who, at the time of the making of the film, was treating youthful addicts. The feature-length documentary presents a first-hand personal look at a problem that is reaching the point of a health care epidemic in this country and has impacted communities all across the nation, including Martha’s Vineyard.

Since The Hungry Heart was released in 2013, Ms. O’Brien has toured with the film, screening it in 150 towns and cities around the country. She has reached out to the audience in Q & A and discussion periods after the screenings, often with one or more of the film subjects.

On Friday, October 10, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center will host a screening of The Hungry Heart. Ms. O’Brien will be on hand to answer questions and hopefully generate a conversation about a problem that is as much of a threat on the Vineyard as it is in communities all over the world.

The MV Times recently spoke by phone with Ms. O’Brien about some of the issues raised by the film, and how it has impacted audiences and communities from Little Rock, Arkansas, to Nantucket, Mass.

HH TRAILER-VIMEO from Bess O’brien on Vimeo.

Do you think that people are starting to address this rampant problem more seriously?

It’s interesting because after I made my film a couple of years ago, I toured extensively through the state last fall. Then, in January, the governor of Vermont focused his entire State of the State Address on prescription drugs. He referenced my film a number of times. No other governor of the state had ever spent the State of the State talking about one issue. The next day we were inundated with national and international press. For about three months there was press coming up here weekly. The New York Times, al jazeera, The Boston Globe, journalists from Canada, Norway. What I have been saying is that the important thing about showing this movie and getting the word out is that we essentially said “we have a problem.”

The film is set in a rural town in Vermont. Is there a particular reason that you chose to focus on this community?

This film came to me through Fred Holmes. He wanted to tell the story of the young people he was working with. But I don’t think there’s anything special about Vermont. We’ve taken the film all over. It doesn’t matter where we go. We could go to a city, a town, a wealthy community, a poor community. It’s the same story. People tend to think that things like drug addiction doesn’t happen in rural areas or in beautiful places like Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Vermont. What we see in the media is usually focused on cities, but drug addiction is everywhere. It’s a huge problem. It’s a disease that’s a national health problem.

You focus primarily on young adults in this film.  Do you find that teens are especially at risk with prescription drug addiction?

Fred often says that among the kids that he is seeing, the average age that they started using is 12 or 13. On the special feature section on the DVD, there are interviews with professionals. One woman who works as an addiction specialist says that young people are now starting with prescription drugs. The gateway drug for many people is not pot anymore. I think that kids find it in their medicine cabinet and think, “this can’t be that bad. It’s prescribed by a doctor.”

In the film we see Dr. Holmes prescribing Suboxone (a drug used to treat opioid addiction) as part of his treatment program. What would you say to people who may object to the use of Suboxone?

The reason that Suboxone is in the movie is that’s part of what Fred does, but I hope that it’s not the main focus. The most important part of the film for me — and why I did the movie — is the incredible relationship that Fred has with his patients. Many of them were coming just to be with Fred, for affirmation and to be with someone who has respect for them. There’s so much shame around addiction. What Fred has is an incredible ability to make people believe in themselves.

Suboxone is one small tool in the toolbox in the process of recovery. Getting clean is a huge life-changing thing. People need outpatient treatment. Some people go to AA or NA. You need strong family and community support. Suboxone is one small tool. If you use it in the right way with a doctor, and you’re doing the right things in your life, then you will probably do well.

I do not feel that any of us should judge anyone who is in recovery and working hard to do it. The metaphor I use is some people use the patch to help relieve the craving for nicotine. They use it so that they can calm down and start weaning themselves off cigarettes. If you take Suboxone, it stops your cravings and blocks the ability of any other opiates to get you high. It helps you in early recovery get over that hump. There are people in the film who are now off Suboxone and doing well in their lives. It can also be abused like any other drug. The film is certainly not a pro-Suboxone movie.

To me, a lot of the bugaboo around Suboxone is the judgement we have around addicts. The fact is it’s an incredibly complicated illness. Everybody gets clean in a different way. Some people may say this is replacing one drug with another. That is naïve and not true at all.

What kind of response do you get when you show the film?

The reaction is 99 percent positive. It puts a human face on addiction. One of the most moving things about the screenings is that there are always parents who come who are just bleary eyed and stunned because their kid is in the midst of this horrible addiction. They’ve  come to this movie to hear what other people say.

Even in Vermont we still don’t have enough resources, then you go into Maine and New Hampshire and the resources are very scarce. That’s really the saddest thing, to meet people whose kids are in the depths of addiction. They can’t find a bed [in a detox]. They can’t find a doctor or a treatment center. Many doctors don’t want to deal with this. Some of people who come to the film want to see some hope. The discussions with the audiences afterwards are always very moving and informative. It’s a chance for people to talk about what they need in their community.

What do you hope to accomplish with the screenings?

I hope the film is a stepping off point for people to rally around the issue, to work on community action. A lot of people who come to the screening not knowing much, when they leave they want to get involved in the community. In a number of communities where we showed the film, they had a sign-up list of people who want to work on the issues. There’s been a lot of grassroots work on the problem.

What is the most surprising thing you learned while making this film?

I think just how widespread prescription drug and opiate addiction is. We need more resources. That’s what we hear. If we looked at the statistics of how many people are addicted in our country, and how many people need help, we’d realize that what we have is a health epidemic here. We don’t have enough facilities. We don’t have enough support. That is unconscionable. I hope it instills in people that we need to get help for these people.

We need to start looking at this as a health issue, and not a criminal problem. One of the most important things that the governor addressed in his talk is that we need more treatment resources. That is something that I’ve always believed in, but after making this movie it became very clear to me.

The Hungry Heart will screen at the M.V. Film Center, Friday, October 10, at 7:30 pm. Discussion with Bess O’Brien to follow. For more information, visit

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Books by Noepe writers in residence. —Photo courtesy of Noepe Center

For the past seven years, Justen Ahren has been presenting public readings by many of the poets and authors who have passed through his M.V. Writer’s Residency program at Noëpe Center for the Literary Arts. The month of October will hold a number of opportunities to hear the work of both established and emerging writers from points around the globe. The readings, followed by Q and A sessions, are always varied and interesting showcases of polished work.

The first reading will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 7, at the West Tisbury library. A second library reading by other poets and authors will be held Wednesday, Oct. 22. A solo poetry reading will be hosted by the Noëpe Center for the Literary Arts on Saturday, Oct. 11.

The Noëpe Center is currently hosting a full house of writers and poets who are signed on for residencies of two to four weeks. Among them are some established names in the literary world, as well as emerging writers who are newly published or enjoying success through magazines and journals. They come from all over. Some are returnees to the program. Others are here for the first time.

Among those involved in readings at the West Tisbury library will be fiction writers Mark Widerander, whose novel “Stevenson’s Treasure,” written during a previous Noëpe residency, was published in 2014 and whose screenplay was a finalist in the Academy of Arts & Sciences annual writing competition; Karen Hunt, also a returnee, who is working on a new novel called “Letters from Purgatory”; Czech writer Barbara Lyckova, who is working on a collection of short stories; and mystery writer Con Lehane.

Nonfiction writers will include Nan Elliot, whose work has appeared in National Geographic and the Los Angeles Times, and who is currently at work on a biography of mountain climber Ray Genet; William Heath, writer of historical works, whose book “William Wells and the Struggle for the Old Northwest”will be published in 2015; Christina Gombar, author of a book of literary criticism, “Great Women Writers, 1900-1950,” who is currently working on a series of interconnected historical novels; and Jane Seskin, author of 12 books, whose poetry and articles have appeared in various newspapers and magazines. Half a dozen published poets will also be participating in the group readings.

On Saturday, Oct. 11, Pushcart Prize nominee Sarah Levine will be reading from her poetry chapbook “Her Man” (New Megaphone Press) at the Noëpe Center. Ms. Levine’s work has been included in the 2013 Best New Poets, PANK, Green Mountains Review, Vinyl, and Handsome,among others.

This past summer the Noëpe Center hosted a full roster of workshops led by acclaimed authors, poets, a panel of food writers, a storyteller, and a literary agent. The series was a success, with many of the workshops selling out. Elizabeth Rosner, bestselling author of “Blue Nude” and “The Speed of Light,” was among those who headed weeklong workshops. She will return next year, along with a number of new participants including acclaimed memoirist, poet, and novelist Jennifer Clement of Mexico City.

All in all, the Noëpe Center has become a serious destination for both writer residents, who are hosted by the center twice each year, and local and off-Island visitors interested in attending the diverse workshops.

Noëpe writers’ readings will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 7, and Wednesday, Oct. 22, both at 4:30 pm at the West Tisbury library. A solo poetry reading by Sarah Levine will be hosted by the Noëpe Center for the Literary Arts on Saturday, Oct. 11, at 6:00 pm. For more information, visit or

"Little Bird Book" watercolor. —Art by Carol Barsha

Hidden away on a side street just beyond the busy commercial stretch of Circuit Avenue, Oak Bluffs’ A Gallery has quickly established itself as a showcase for contemporary and cutting-edge art.

A visit to the open-layout gallery, with its industrial gray walls and floor, offers the experience of viewing museum-quality work by masters of their media. The artists featured at A Gallery this past summer (whose work is still on display) include Irving Petlin, one of the world’s foremost pastel artists; the late famed avant-garde sculptor Stella Waitzkin, who was a fixture in the downtown New York City art scene in the 1960s and ’70s; and highly successful photographers Marianna Cook and Ed Grazda, both of whom have work in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum and MOMA, and have been published in the New Yorker, among other magazines and journals.

"A Tree with Crows and Nest" a gelatin silver print. —Art by Mariana Cook
“A Tree with Crows and Nest” a gelatin silver print. —Art by Mariana Cook

Owner Tanya Augoustinos also tries out new and emerging artists every year. She seeks out work which is both contemporary and, in many cases, unusual for the medium or technique. Often it represents something larger than its visual appeal.

For those without the budget of a fine art collector, A Gallery is currently hosting a show of small works. In some cases that means small in scale, in some cases smaller price tags, and in some cases, both.

The annual show gives Ms. Augoustinos the chance to reintroduce some of the artists she has shown throughout the summer, as well as to incorporate some new people into her collection.

“It’s sort of a season-ending invitation to people who don’t make large work and a chance to include as many people as possible,” says Ms. Augoustinos. “The scale would also be a factor as far as affordability. There’s a range of pricing.”

"Incoming Tide" acrylic on wood panel. —Art by John Redick
“Incoming Tide” acrylic on wood panel. —Art by John Redick

The current selection at A Gallery features some very small-scale works, including evocative wave paintings by John Redick utilizing a unique acrylic process. Mr. Redick makes seascapes using the flow of the paint to create almost abstract works that really capture the energy and mystery of the ocean. The bright blue, very shiny little works are self-contained on small canvases.

Other standalones on small canvases are tiny mixed-media pieces by Ria Ray, a California artist and healer formerly of the Vineyard. Ms. Ray uses small square canvases to create the “Guardian” series: little visual talismans that, according to Ms. Augoustinos, are “a reminder to love yourself and take care of yourself.” The mini paintings are highly textural, flecked with bits of gold, and sell for the very reasonable price of $100.

Beth Parker, a local landscaper, is also a channeler of sorts. She has created a series of small crayon, pen, and ink drawings of what might be described as alien robotics. Her figures display a cross of mechanical and organic forms, showing a world of her own imagining. In handmade frames that have the look of burnished metal, they are both charming and fascinatingly futuristic.

Tom Mullins, who only recently started doing pastels under the tutelage of Valentine Estabrook, has his gallery debut in this show. Remarkable for capturing the essence of his subjects, Mr. Mullins’ masterful little seascapes and still lifes display a great sense of composition and a knack for simplifying images to their elemental forms in a very appealing way.

Midsize pieces include work by established A Gallery artists like Carol Barsha, who has contributed some simple little drawings of books; Doris Lubell, who has created works with faces peering out from dreamy abstract landscapes; Alejandro Ray, who has created some smaller versions of his signature geometric figurative work in bright colors; and Ed Schulman, whose semiabstract figures, done in an interesting muted color palette and rustic style, show off more of the emerging Vineyard artist’s unique vision.

Pen, ink, crayon, and gouache on wood. —Art by Beth Parker
Pen, ink, crayon, and gouache on wood. —Art by Beth Parker

There are also a few newcomers to A Gallery, whom Ms. Augoustinos is introducing for the first time with the thought of including them in upcoming exhibits. Among those is Roxann Leibenhaut, whose Brooklyn and Manhattan cityscapes capture the mood of New York. Her small and midsize oil paintings are great examples of everyday urban life, with all of the details of a mundane city scene coming together to depict the energy and atmosphere of the city. Ms. Augoustinos explains, “She takes an accumulation of a lot of information and brings peace to it. She reaches calm out of chaos.”

Also included in the small-works show are terracotta and bronze bas-relief panels by Ilka List, Christopher Wright’s infused-metal black and white photos, and Harry Seymour’s scratchboard and pastel works. All are excellent examples of A Gallery’s focus on unique vision and unusual technique.

Ms. Augoustinos will keep the gallery open through the end of the year, with new work by Heather Goff being added throughout this month and a final show sometime in November. The Gallery will also host several events, including a cabaret evening on Saturday, Oct. 11, featuring a short play, music, poetry, and video.

A Gallery, which has been situated in its present location for two years, has now established itself as an outpost for art lovers in the formerly rundown neighborhood behind the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank. With the new bowling alley well under way in the construction process, the area is bound to become a new mecca of activity, and Ms. Augoustinos is looking forward to the change.

“I’m very excited to be staying in this space,” Ms. Augoustinos says. “I’ve definitely made myself a home in this neighborhood, and will continue to be in this space.” She notes that she will be adding more wall space next year, and has a full schedule of shows for summer 2015.

For more information, visit

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Artist Liz Floyd views photographs and interviews on display in the Pebble Gallery at Featherstone. —Photo by Michael Cummo

You can always expect to find a bunch of artists hanging around Featherstone, teaching classes or showing their work. But for the next week, you’ll find a group of artists whose portraits — instead of their work — are the focus of a new show. The show of photographs, curated by Vineyard psychologist Jane Dreeben, will hang at the Pebble Gallery through Sunday, Sept. 28. It features Vineyarders involved in different creative endeavors, from painting and sculpture to dance, music, architecture, and even hairstyling.

For an even more up-close and personal introduction to some of the Island’s artists, Featherstone will be hosting its fourth annual Artist’s Studio Tour on Saturday, Sept. 27. Guests will have the chance to visit 15 different Vineyard artists at work in their studios all around the Island.

The event is a self-guided tour where guests are given info about the artists and a map to the various workplaces. They are invited to visit any or all of the studios at their leisure throughout the day. It’s a great chance to have an intimate glimpse into the artistic process, view the participants’ new work, discuss their processes, and maybe even purchase a work directly from the artist.

The studio visits offer far more than a glimpse of an artist absorbed in work at an easel. Among the participants this year are fiber artists, a ceramicist, a sculptor, and two women who use elements of nature in their work: Peggy Zablotny, whose medium is botanicals, and Kathy Poehler, who gets creative with seaweed. The tour offers a great opportunity to learn about materials and technique, as well as witness the creation process.

“You get to see all their books and libraries,” says Featherstone director Ann Smith. “And how they store their paints and textiles and other materials.” Ms. Smith adds that some of the studios themselves reflect the artistic nature of their occupants, and a number are situated on beautiful properties with stunning views.

While four of the artists are returnees from past years, 11 are new to the artist tour. Some, like Wendy Weldon and Rez Williams, will be well-known to Vineyarders, while a number of relative newcomers are among those happy to open their most personal space to the public. “They’re all very personable,” says Ms. Smith. “Everyone serves lemonade or cookies.”

Those who had a chance to witness the impressive all-day cast iron demonstration at Featherstone last weekend may be interested in checking out the workplaces of ceramicist Sharry Stevens-Grunden, or sculptor Heather Sommers, who works primarily in stone. Others will appreciate the fascinating array of objects that find their way into the work of mixed-media artists Genevieve Jacobs and Roberta Gross.

Tickets are just $30, and all proceeds benefit the nonprofit Featherstone Center.

If you’re not prepared to drive around the Island to get a glimpse of the people behind the artistry, Ms. Dreeben’s exhibit will offer an intimate look at some Islanders expressing themselves in front of the lens of some equally creative individuals.

Guests read the participating photographers' biographies. Front: Heidi Wild’s portrait of dancer Sandra Stone. —Photo by Michael Cummo
Guests read the participating photographers’ biographies. Front: Heidi Wild’s portrait of dancer Sandra Stone. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Ms. Dreeben recruited six young Vineyarders to assist with the project. She interviewed a selection of subjects and then asked her team of young photographers to shoot them in a setting or pose that would give a sense of the individual. “I tried to have each of the photographers express something about that person’s creative self,” says Ms. Dreeben. The results are very creative. Some of them are fairly straightforward depictions of the subjects at work, but most show the artists at other locations, expressing their creativity in other manners. All give a real sense of the subject, and are good examples of some emerging Island talent in the field of photography.

The subjects were hand-selected by Ms. Dreeben. “I chose them through my personal response to their work,” she said. “I’ve been picking people whose work I admire or that has elicited some response in me.”

“I got interested in the project because there are so many amazing creative people here,” Ms. Dreeben said. “What I wanted to show was the diversity of the artists on the Vineyard. I got interested in both their creative lives and how they got interested in what they do, how they do it, and their relationships with the Island.”

The mini-bios are revealing introductions to the various personalities depicted. Ms. Dreeben hopes to host another show of the photos next spring, and she plans to eventually turn the project into a book.

For more information on the exhibit and studio tour, visit