Authors Posts by Gwyn McAllister

Gwyn McAllister


Erica Belle-Williams of MV Allston, a new store located on Kennebec Avenue in Oak Bluffs. — Gwyn McAllister

Two young women — one a native and one a longtime Vineyard visitor — recently opened shops in Oak Bluffs. Both stores are welcome and interesting additions to the downtown business scene, and both spotlight the individual talents of the two young entrepreneurs.

Islander Holly Lawyer recently opened Made MV, a new store on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs.
Islander Holly Lawyer recently opened Made MV, a new store on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs.

Made MV is a collection of offerings from local artists and artisans. MV Allston is an affordable boutique run by a woman whose fashion background is evident in the range of women’s clothing options, from sporty to dressy.

Made MV is located at the top of Circuit Avenue. Owner Holly Lawyer has filled the small shop with her handmade children’s clothing, jewelry, and photos, along with items from a number of local folks displaying a variety of artistic talents.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said the Vineyard native, who has sold her work for the past nine years at the Ag Fair and at various street fairs. “I think all Island artists come to the same conclusion that it’s expensive to have a store here.” Her solution was to reach out to other local artists to sell on consignment. Among the shop’s inventory are paintings, photos, collage works, pottery, wooden items, clothing crocheted items, hair accessories, skin care products, soaps, food items, and lots of jewelry.

A few of the artisans whose work is on display are well represented on the Island but most are new to the Vineyard arts scene, which makes the shop a great resource for those looking to discover new and unique hand-made products.

“I was trying to get people who aren’t that well known. I don’t think it’s fair to judge people on what they’re making rather than on their talent,” Ms. Lawyer said, referring to the restrictions set by some of the flea and artisan markets on Island.

The store features work by more than 20 individuals. Among the items are cotton scarves made from recycled Vineyard tee-shirts by Rae Carter. The lightweight and colorful scarves show off familiar images such as the Black Dog patchworked with logos from banks, stores, and nonprofits.

Angelic Fontaine has a pretty display in one corner with hair accessories made from silk flowers. Pottery fans will be pleased to find several very unusual styles of glazing from ceramicists Debbie Hale and Scott Campbell.

Jewelry styles cover a wide range of prices and materials from beach pebbles and wampum to pearls and other gemstones.

And then of course, there is Ms. Lawyer’s handiwork. One of the first things to catch the eye in the shop is a rack of charming little girl’s dresses. The mother of three young girls has come up with a simple design, made from cotton, that features a halter top with a drawstring. Ms. Lawyer notes that the garment can be worn in multiple seasons — first as a dress, then as a tunic top over tights. The ties can be adjusted as the child grows.

The inventory is constantly growing as more and more artists discover the store. Ms. Lawyer sells everything on consignment and welcomes new artists, artisans, and others offering items made on the Vineyard.

MV Allston

Erica Belle-Williams named her store MV Allston after her grandfather, Leonard Allston Yancy, a jazz musician who was well known on the Vineyard for his performances at Lola’s. While others in Ms. Belle-Williams’s family encouraged her to pursue a professional career, her grandfather supported her artistic side. “He was the one in my family who really encouraged me. He always told people, ‘She can do something creative.’”

A high energy, driven young woman, Ms. Belle-Williams approached a fashion career through the business side. She attended the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising in New York City, then went on to work as a fashion merchandise buyer and in marketing and merchandising. As a stylist, Ms. Belle-Williams took part in Fashion Week in New York and was able to develop a sense of the fashion market and fashion trends.

“When I graduated from college, everything was expensive,” she said. “It was all about labels and high-end products. Then we saw the economy shift and people wanted cheaper goods.”

Nothing in MV Allston even approaches a $100 price tag — including some fabulous evening wear numbers. The pieces range from casual comfortable cotton separates for $15 to $25 to flowing kimonos and tunics featuring popular tiny prints, to stretchy skinny jeans in black or white for $25. Despite the very reasonable prices, the clothing is hardly of the disposable variety. Many of the items are made in the U.S. or the U.K. The fabrics are soft cottons and blends. The designs are not necessarily of the trend-of-the-moment variety. A small selection of jewelry runs from $3 (yes $3) for a pair of earrings to $25 for items made by local designers.

The Kennebec Avenue shop caters to all sizes with a range from size 0 to 26. “Being plus-size myself, I know that it’s hard to find good quality stuff,” Ms. Belle-Williams said. “London has the best plus-size fashion. I like to find smaller designers and local designers.”

MV Allston carries a line of logowear from a small company called Legendary MV. The locally based company makes soft tees, tanks, hoodies, and sweatshirts featuring a distinctive logo and Oak Bluffs and Inkwell imprints. A small selection of fun party dresses can be found in a variety of styles. Ms. Belle-Williams joked, “My favorite color is glitter.”

The 29-year-old owner, who has been spending summers on the Vineyard since she was a baby, has managed to keep her prices down by decorating the store with hand-me-down furniture and otherwise keeping things simple. The small shop is filled with light and welcoming. “My vision was to have a coffee shop feel,” she said. “It’s neat and bright, but you feel like you can come in and relax.” The price point is certainly not intimidating, and Ms. Belle-Williams stocks water, snacks, candy, and dog treats.

The very personable shop owner has found the town to be as welcoming to her as she is to her customers. “The other store owners have been great,” she said. “Basics has sent some people in who were looking for plus-sizes. That’s what I love about the Vineyard and why I wanted to open a store here even though friends kept asking me, ‘Why don’t you open a store in New York?’”

Made MV is located at 55 Circuit Ave. across from Slice of Life. The store is open daily from 9 am to 7 pm.

MV Allston is next to Rouge Luxe on Kennebec Ave. in the space formerly occupied by the vintage store Aequinox. Open Sunday through Thursday, 10 am to 7 pm; Friday and Saturday, 10 am to 9 pm.

Old Whaling Church, rear view — File photo by Tim Johnson

Delores Stevens is well connected in the global chamber music scene. Every summer the director of the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society (MVCMS) brings groups with some very enviable credentials to perform before Vineyard audiences.

This month, Ms. Stevens recruited two young ensembles who are fast making names for themselves worldwide. In two separate programs, Vineyard audiences will have the chance to hear virtuoso musicians performing Mozart, Schubert, a few contemporary composers and, to finish it all off, a little Dave Brubeck.

On Monday, July 14 and Tuesday, July 15, the Calder Quartet makes its Martha’s Vineyard debut. The Los Angeles-based string quartet was recently awarded the prestigious 2014 Avery Fisher Career Grant. The quartet has been called “outstanding” and “superb” by The New York Times.

The Calder Quartet, which hails from Los Angeles, joins the Martha's Vineyard Chamber Music Society for two shows next week.
The Calder Quartet, which hails from Los Angeles, joins the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society for two shows next week.

The quartet has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Edinburgh International Festival, and Austria’s Esterhazy Palace. They debuted a number of new compositions at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and earlier this year performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The group of young musicians has toured with rock bands and have been featured on KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Tonight Show,” and “Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel.”

Ms. Stevens, who spends her winters performing and teaching in southern California, is a strong advocate for new composers and has been following the Calder Quartet since its inception in 1998. “I became aware of them because when they were first formed they did a lot of new music,” she said. “They were very adventurous. They had a unique quality that was quite obvious from the beginning. It’s really been a joy to watch them grow and play with different orchestras.”

In the two concerts on the Vineyard, the Calder Quartet presents a program that represents a mix of eras. The performances will start off with a chamber music piece by Mozart. “Mozart’s piano concertos usually have orchestra accompaniment,” Ms. Stevens said. “But he wrote several that were intended to be accompanied by a quartet. This piece is one of my favorites. I think it’s one of the most beautiful concertos that he wrote.”

Mozart will be followed by Schubert’s famous “Death and the Maiden,” one of the pillars of the chamber music repertoire that has been featured in a number of films. A more contemporary piece by Leoš Janáček will complete the program. The Czech composer drew from Eastern European folk music in creating his lively compositions.

“There’s going to be a little bit of every kind of music,” she continued, “from classical to the romantic period to more contemporary.”

Ms. Stevens generally makes an effort to mix up her programs in order to introduce audiences to a range of styles. Such will be the case with the second program of the summer season, when The Quartet San Francisco visits the Island for two performances on July 21 and July 22.

Grammy nominees for their last three CD releases and International Tango competition winners, the Quartet San Francisco mixes up jazz, tango, and contemporary classical, making them a perfect fit for MVCMS, which despite being a 44-year-old organization, seeks to promote new music and various styles in order to introduce audiences to chamber music and continue the education of aficionados.

The concert starts off with Samuel Barber’s haunting “String Quartet Op. 11,” made famous in recent times through its inclusion in a number of movie soundtracks including those for “Platoon” and “The Elephant Man.”

The program also includes a swing number by Gordon Goodwin, known for his many film and TV scores; a piece by jazz, film, and TV composer Patrick Williams; and works by Peter Schickele, aka P.D.Q. Bach.

Drawing on the Quartet San Francisco’s strong jazz roots, the group will finish up with Dave Brubeck’s famous “Take Five,” which has been featured in numerous films and served as the theme for the NBC’s “The Today Show” for many years. That piece, like most of the others that make up the program, will be familiar to many audience members due to their commercial history and mainstream appeal.

Ms. Stevens hopes to attract new — and younger — audiences to MVCMS through her commitment to including work by contemporary composers and more widely accessible genres. While she spends her winters in Los Angeles performing, teaching, and serving on the boards of a number of music organizations, while on the Vineyard Ms. Stevens focuses solely on bringing world-renowned musicians and eclectic programming to Island audiences.

“I’m really concentrated on the concerts here, which is kind of a relief,” she said. “From here I can focus completely on the music…and taking the occasional walk in the woods.”

Music: M.V. Chamber Music Society with Calder Quartet present From the Halls of Carnegie and Disney, 8 pm, Monday, July 14 at Old Whaling Church, Edgartown; Tuesday, July 15, Chilmark Community Center. $35; $30 with Our Island Club card; free for students. For more information, visit

The cast of Shaina Taub and Kim Rosenstock's new musical, "There's a House." — Jenny Andersen

Keep a close eye on what’s going on at Vineyard Arts Project (VAP) in Edgartown this summer. Many of the theater productions that were developed during summer residencies there — and presented to Vineyard audiences — are now enjoying runs at New York City theaters, on Broadway and at Lincoln Center. And don’t be surprised to find some of the shows currently under development here making their way to prestigious venues. Right now at VAP, teams of accomplished playwrights, directors, and a music composer are working on three new plays. Vineyard audiences have the chance to get a first glimpse of these works-in-progress on Thursday, July 10 and Friday, July 11.

Playwright Kim Rosenstock and composer Shaina Taub are in the process of finishing a musical called “There’s a House,” an original folktale described on the VAP website as “a mystical travelogue loosely inspired by the ballad ‘The House Carpenter.’”

Ms. Rosenstock is a writer for the Fox show “New Girl,” and her play “Tigers Be Still” was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award. Ms. Taub’s debut album was featured on NPR/WNYC’s Best of the Year list. The versatile composer recently won the coveted Jonathan Larson award for musical theater. Her original soul/funk opera was a finalist for the Richard Rodgers Award. Ms. Taub was also recently nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for her role in the critically acclaimed “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.”

Both collaborators are former artists in residence at Ars Nova in New York, which is how they were introduced to VAP. VAP has hosted playwrights and actors from Ars Nova for the past four years.

Playwright Beth Wohl is also currently at VAP with director Rachel Chavkin and a crew of actors working on her play “Small Mouth Sounds.” Ms. Wohl has written a number of plays and has developed film and television work for HBO, USA, Fox, and Paramount.  She has had work commissioned by Manhattan Theatre Club and Center Theatre Group, and has received support from Ars Nova.

The play will be directed by Obie Award-winning director Rachel Chavkin, also nominated for the Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel, whose work includes the world premiere of “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.”

“Small Mouth Sounds” takes place at a silent retreat, which might seem like an odd choice of setting, but, Ashley Melone, founder and director of VAP, said: “You hear the voice of the guru teacher the whole time and there is dialogue. It’s a very touching portrayal of people searching for something. I’m so excited to see it staged. I think it’s going to show what you can communicate without language and what you can learn from silence.”

Ms. Wohl is another playwright whom Ms. Melone met during an Ars Nova residency. The playwright was on the Vineyard last summer with the New York theater group when she began writing her current play.

Rounding out the trio of new plays that will be performed as readings this weekend is “Naperville” by Mat Smart. Mr. Smart is one of the founders of the Slant Theater Project, a New York based organization that helps to develop new works. He is the recipient of the 2014 New Voices Award from the William Inge Center for the Arts. His previous works have received favorable reviews from a number of publications, including The New York Times.

On the VAP website, “Naperville” is described as a romantic comedy. “It’s a comedy but it’s also really touching,” Ms. Melone said. “The play is about a mother/son relationship. The mother is blinded in an accident and she’s learning how to live as a blind person.”

Tony and Emmy Award winning actress Debra Monk will star in “Naperville.” All of those taking part in the in the trio of plays are equity actors and/or singers from New York City.

Two years ago, VAP hosted an initial reading of Pulitzer Prize winner James Lapine’s “Act One.” This past spring that play completed a three-month run at Lincoln Center.

“Disgraced,” a play by Ayad Akhtar, was part of VAP’s 2010 New Writers/New Plays series and is now headed to Broadway’s Lyceum Theater after being produced at Lincoln Center. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins presented a reading of his play, “Appropriate,” at VAP in 2012. This past spring both “Appropriate” and his subsequent play “An Octoroon” enjoyed New York City runs. The latter play won two Obie Awards, while the former was a New York Times critics pick.

Considering VAP’s track record and Ms. Melone’s eye for new talent, the theater lab tucked away in a compound on upper Main Street in Edgartown should be the place to be this summer for audiences wishing to be among the first to witness some exciting new works in theater.

Also coming to the Vineyard for the first time this summer is Rosie’s Kids, aneducational program founded by Rosie O’Donnell. VAP will host a retreat for the nonprofit in August so it’s possible that the theater and dance compound will prove to be an early breeding ground for some of the next generation’s major theater talent.

Theater: “There’s a House,” 4 pm on July 10; 9 pm on July 11. “Small Mouth Sounds,” 9 pm on July 10; 6:30 pm on July 11. “Naperville,” 6:30 pm on July 10; 4 pm on July 11. All shows at Vineyard Arts Project, Edgartown. For more information, call 508-413-2104 or visit

The Martha's Vineyard Playhouse's Monday Night Specials feature readings by playwrights. — MV Times File Photo

A Catholic priest is struggling with his faith and the tenets of the church while mourning the loss of his mother to lung cancer. Not exactly the stuff of comedy. However, “Sweetened Water,” the first play by author and frequent CNN contributor Edward L. Beck, deals with some pretty heavy issues with a light touch and a good deal of humor.

Kicking off the Monday Night Special series at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, a reading this past Monday of “Sweetened Water” drew a sellout crowd. The play featured performances by Amy Brenneman, Brooke Adams, and Stephen G. Anthony, with D’Arcy Dersham and Brian Keane from the Playhouse’s current production “The Whaleship Essex” in small roles.

In a Q&A following the performance, the playwright quoted the common advice, “Write what you know.” As a Catholic priest, Mr. Beck is very familiar with some of the controversies surrounding the church. His play explores touchy territory such as the perception of the church with pedophile priests in the news. But mainly the seriocomedy explores the priestly vow of celibacy and the question of where does a clergyman draw the line between intimacy as a spiritual advisor and intimacy on a more human level.

This is all very familiar ground for Father Beck, who has been tapped variously by ABC News, CBS News, FOX News, CNN, HLN, and MSNBC to comment on issues of ethics, morality, and religion. The charismatic priest is also the executive producer of the Sunday Mass on the ABC Family Channel, and previously he co-hosted “Focus on Faith” for ABC News. Father Beck is also the author of three non-fiction books.

The play is set on Martha’s Vineyard and deals with a priest taking his own meditative break after leading a retreat here. Like his protagonist, Father Beck does lead retreats on the Vineyard and elsewhere. While on the Island on vacation following one retreat, he found himself in a situation similar to that which is depicted in his play. However, as far as the play’s menage-a-trois of sorts, Father Beck explained that part came purely from his imagination. He noted that writing the play was a way for him to tread on territory forbidden to a man in his position. “I feel constrained in some areas,” he said. “How can I explore issues like celibacy? Fiction is a way to do it.”

Recognizing that some of the play’s language and sexual scenarios might strike the audience as a little shocking coming from the pen of a Catholic priest, Father Beck explained that priests are often misperceived as less human than they truly are.

One audience member asked Father Beck what he thought the Pope would think of the play. The priest/playwright answered that as long as His Holiness wasn’t asked to publicly condone it, “I think he’d love it.” Monday night’s audience certainly did, giving the actors and playwright a standing ovation.

The next Monday Night Special reading is “Tevye, Two Daughters, and a Cow” written by Sholem Aleichem, 7:30 pm, Monday, July 14, hosted by the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse and held at the M.V. Hebrew Center in Vineyard Haven. $25 donation. For more information, call 508-687-2452 or visit

Choose between multiple dress, shirt, and skirt fabrics and styles at the Ellie Kai pop-up shop. — Ellie Kai

A pop-up shop hitting Edgartown this week represents a new way to shop. The Ellie Kai brand features made-to-order fashion that involves the customer, a consultant, and the Ellie Kai design team in the process of creating looks that are unique, yet more affordable than other bespoke options.

Ellie-Kai-clothes.JPGHow many times have you been in a situation where you’ve found a dress in a perfect style but the color or pattern wasn’t quite right? Or vice versa, a great print but not the most flattering style for your body type?

This weekend, women will have the chance to try on and customize their choice of dress, top, and skirt styles at the Ellie Kai pop-up shop at the Vineyard Square Hotel on North Water Street.

Customers can design and order custom apparel with the help of an on-site consultant, or they can chose from a wide selection of ready-to-wear styles fashioned from custom textile designs in silk and jersey stretch. Among the 25-plus items available are dresses, tops from halters to long sleeve tunics, and a range of skirts.

Women can try on the sample styles to determine which design works best for them and then chose from approximately 40 different designs. The garment will be custom made and will arrive by mail within three weeks.

Ellie Kai’s designs are unique to the brand as they were created by a graphic designer and produced in Asia to founder Elizabeth Hostetter’s specifications. In creating custom prints, Ms. Hostetter draws inspiration from her travels throughout Asia. Customers can chose from approximately 70 different prints and solids. “I think we cover the spectrum from the brightest brights to the most neutral neutrals, from stripes to preppy to conservative,” Ms. Hostetter said.

The print designs tend towards subtly stylized variations on traditional ethnic patterns and sophisticated takes on preppy prints. Solids come in neutrals and custom colors focusing on the popular hues of the season.

Ms. Hostetter described the designs and fabrics as, “that sort of Northeast urban take on preppy. I think that was our core when we started designing this collection. It’s always been about really casual for daytime and a little dressier at night.” She designs the clothes to be ideal for traveling, noting that they are easy to pack, comfortable, and suit the resort lifestyle. The brand was founded in 2012, and, though most of the business comes from hosted home parties and trunk shows, Ellie Kai pop-up shops have appeared in Nantucket and South Hampton, N.Y.

Ms. Hostetter hopes to introduce new people to the brand through the temporary stores, and also to recruit new hostesses and consultants for what she refers to as “social shopping trunk shows.” At the trunk shows, a consultant is on hand to assist customers.

The Ellie Kai founder was inspired to create the label when she found it difficult to meet her own wardrobe needs. She and her family moved to Hong Kong in 2009, and she now spends summers on Cape Cod, where she was born and raised and where she still maintains an office and showroom.

“I found shopping challenging because I’m tall. I made some things custom and my friends all asked me about them. As soon as I explained that connection, the lightbulb went off. No one had taken that idea in customizing and wardrobe design to the next level.”

Ms. Hostetter is focused on creating styles based on what women are looking for in terms of wearability, flattering styles, and individual taste. “Some of the best ideas for styles have come from feedback,” she said. “I see myself more as a curator than a designer.”

The garments are designed, sourced, and manufactured in Asia. To avoid doing business with disreputable manufacturing concerns, Ms. Hostetter says that she did a good deal of research. “From the beginning we developed a business model of integrity. We make sure workers are given fair wages, have air conditioning, get breaks. As a mother of three I’m extremely concerned about the ethical side of production. I make it a point of the company to have a focus on that.”

Ellie Kai’s Edgartown Pop-Up Shop, Thursday, July 10–Monday, July 14, 9 am–6 pm, Vineyard Square Hotel, Edgartown. For more information, email

Vardo is a new store on Spring Street in Vineyard Haven that features crafts, antiques, and retro items. — Gwyn McAllister

“Eclectic” is one of the most overused words when describing the inventory of a store. However, in the case of new Vineyard Haven shop Vardo, it’s entirely appropriate. In fact, the stock of the small shop could practically be said to define “eclectic.”

Among the items to be found on the shelves and walls of Vardo are crafts from Africa and South America, antiques and retro items including a number of collectible Barbies, Native American rugs, jewelry and pottery, second hand clothes, some Irish imports, handmade jewelry by owner Heidi Filipowic and her mother, Elizabeth McColgan, interesting old tins, antique toys, original work by local artists, ceramic figurine beads, and hemp cord for make-your-own jewelry projects, and science fiction collectibles.

The latter category represents a longtime interest of Ms. Filipowic. “It’s what I’ve always preferred to watch or read,” she said. Among her favorite shows are “Game of Thrones” and “Dr. Who” and she has created artwork inspired by both, by painting over black-and-white photos from the popular series.

Many of the other items were collected during Ms. Filipowic’s world travels. “I used to be a professional gypsy,” she said. “I travelled to flea markets around the country. I spent a year in Ireland selling from a camper van.” The itinerant merchant has proffered her wares variously at flea markets, Renaissance fairs, motorcycle rallies, music festivals, farmers markets, and boot sales — a British term for gatherings where merchants park themselves in a field and sell from the trunk (“boot” in England) of their cars.

A vardo is a horse-drawn carriage that served both as a means of travel and a home for British Romani people during the 19th century (and also a town in Norway). So it’s an apt name for a former gypsy to adopt for her business.

Luckily, that former gypsy has decided to relocate to Martha’s Vineyard. Most recently she was living in St. Augustine, Fl., before moving here a year ago to be with her husband, Dennis Logan, who works with Stop & Shop.

“I really like it here,” she said. “Having this store, I can sell a lot more things than if I was on the road. It was hard to lug that stuff around and build your store every morning and break it down at the end of the day.”

Vardo opened officially on June 6. Ms. Filipowic has been helped out by her mother, a psychiatric nurse who lives in Eastham who comes down every other week to give her daughter some time off. Ms. Filipowic’s brother has also lent his talents to the enterprise by building the store fixtures — shelving, counter, etc. The walls are painted in bright warm shades and there’s lots of space to stroll. It would be easy to spend a good half an hour in the store, looking through the varied stock of crafts, collectibles, and art. It’s almost a museum-like collection, but the prices are very affordable.

Ms. Filipowic herself enjoys being surrounded by all of her favorite things. No doubt she’s constantly reminded of her extensive travels, which have taken her all around the United States and throughout both Eastern and Western Europe.

But for now, this nomad is enjoying the pleasures of staying in one place. “I feel good about being here,” she said, referring to the colorful, comfortable shop. “I could hang out here 24 hours a day.”

Vardo is located on Spring Street in Vineyard Haven. For more information, call 508-338-2205.

The wooden bowls of Jeremiah Brown. — Photo by Kristofer Rabasca

Talk to someone in construction about the properties of different types of wood and they’re likely to comment on things like weight, density and endurance. Talk to someone who creates art with wood and you’re likely to get a completely different story.

When selecting tree trunks and branches for use in lathe projects, woodworkers invariably look for interesting patterns and variation in color. You’ll hear them enthuse about the grain a lot. It’s what can be found once you look beyond the surface that interests a woodworker. The things that reveal themselves once an artisan starts turning a hunk of wood is all part of the process of creation.

Luckily for those who love the look of natural wood, there are a handful of Vineyard woodworkers creating unique bowls, platters and vessels which show off both the artist’s skill and imagination, and the beauty that nature herself has wrought throughout the life of a tree.

Fred Hancock has a shed and a basement full of logs. He creates beautiful, unique wooden bowls and lidded containers using a variety of wood species. Part of the process involves preparing the wood which can only be accomplished with time. “Wood has to dry or season,” says Mr. Hancock. “It takes a lot of time and trouble.  If it’s not seasoned first, the piece can crack or warp as it dries.”

Hunks of wood make their way from the woodshed to the basement where Mr. Hancock keeps a dehumidifier for finishing the drying process.

He gets much of his wood from felled tree woodpiles and from a local lumberyard. Other pieces come from friends off Island who know of his hobby and from ebay, where Mr. Hancock sometimes finds exotic woods or unusually patterned pieces.

The wood itself often dictates the finished product. “The interesting thing is you can have an idea when you start working on a piece of wood. Then as you start turning it you see different things in the grain and the way it feels. You might just change what your intent was as you take it down.”

Many of Mr. Hancock’s pieces end up on bookshelves and end tables, as opposed to in the kitchen.

“For a lot of the work it’s really used more as a piece of art and less as an object of utility.”

Wooden Bowls.jpgTom Lowe finds inspiration not only from the wood, but also from other natural sources. “A lot of my inspiration comes from organic ocean shapes,” he says. Mr. Lowe’s designs include bowls in the shapes of scallop and clam shells. Other more abstract pieces benefit from interesting curvilinear shapes. Mr. Lowe also creates unique vertical sculptures, some with the ruffled, ribbonlike look of a variety of seaweed found on the Vineyard. Like Mr. Hancock, Mr. Lowe has a fascination with the mathematical properties of wood grain. He talks a lot about crotch wood – the area where a branch joins the trunk – and effect of the confluence of patterns.

Mr. Lowe finds his woodworking to be a very collaborative process between material and creation. “It’s amazing to see that with some of these types of wood just a slight curve coming up the side really brings up the grain.”

The former wooden sign maker uses power tools in a variety of ways to create his work. He is always experimenting with different techniques to increase his efficiency and keep his work affordable. But, despite any time saving methods, patience is still key to any woodworking project. The seasoning and finishing are all important parts of the process. “I get locked in to seven months where I have to baby all these bowls,” says Mr. Lowe.

Mr. Lowe lives in Virginia in the winter but will be spending summers on the Vineyard, where he hopes to eventually relocate full time. His work can be found at the Tuesday Featherstone Flea Market and on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Chilmark Flea. Pieces sell from $16 for a spreader to $2000 for a large sculpture.

West creates his bowls from scavenged wood.
Brown creates his bowls from scavenged wood.

Jeremiah Brown came into woodworking through his job as a landscaper, where he was introduced to different types of wood. He scavenges chunks from firewood piles and asks woodworkers for leftovers. Many of his bowls are constructed from multiple scraps of wood which he laboriously grooves together to create patterns. Using more than one type of wood for a piece requires a good deal of time and skill.

Mr. Brown considers his artwork a hobby as opposed to a profession and says that keeping his work affordable would not be possible if he was actually charging according to the amount of work involved. The payoff comes from the pleasure of creating. “It’s more a labor of love than for money.”

“I look for anything with variegated patterns. I love the burls – the stuff that’s hard to find. I never have a plan until I put the lumber on the lathe.”

Mr. Brown showed a dozen bowls at the Family Planning show earlier this month and sold out very quickly. He will be selling his work this summer at the weekly August Art Shows at Vineyard Gardens where he works.

The new Sea Spa Salon retail space, left, and the Butter nail polish selection at Katydid. — Photos by Gwyn McAllister

Riddle: What can go naked all winter but, with the days getting warm, should wear a coat? Answer: Toenails. This time of year, as we expose more and more of ourselves to public scrutiny, things like pasty skin, a few extra pounds, and a couple of leg hairs can be forgiven, but one easy, painless, safe way (as opposed to tanning, dieting, or waxing) to feel ready for summer is to add some color to your nails — both fingers and toes.

Most Vineyard salons that offer nail service also sell a line or two of nail varnishes and, of course, you can always find a range of brand-name colors at the Island pharmacies, but I’ve discovered a few other places on Island — somewhere one might not expect to find makeup — that are now carrying some of the less commonly available lines of polish.

A nice surprise for me was to find Butter London brand polish ($15) on display among the quilt of preppy, patterned, and sleek summer clothing at Katydid. Butter London is a rather high-end brand of nail lacquer that does not have formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, phthalates, or parabens. It comes in cool looking square bottles in lots of colors that are very of-the-moment. Katydid, on Main Street in Edgartown, also carries Butter lipstick and lipgloss, which I didn’t even know existed until I saw them on display there. Also, the boutique stocks a product called Patent-Gel Top & Tails Set which, according to the Butter website, “is a revolutionary duo that puts patent-leather shine at your fingertips, without harsh chemicals or UV lamps. The healthy alternative to gel manicures!” I’m not convinced that it will replace a gel job, but, at $40, I’m willing to give it a try.

It was also news to me that Crabtree & Evelyn offered nail polish, but it’s the 40-year-old company’s newest venture, and Secret Garden in Oak Bluffs has a rack. At $6 it’s a great option for grabbing a new color while checking out all the pretty gift items at the store, including a huge selection of Vera Bradley bags, gift books, candles, jewelry, and so much more.

By the way, I just found out that the Crabtree & Evelyn brand was named for English botanist John Evelyn and a tree that is commonly used in home apothecary. Who knew? I always thought the name was one of those quirky, cryptic Britticisms like Elephant and Castle or Goat and Compasses. Anyway, for fans of the brand, Secret Garden carries a wide range of Crabtree & Evelyn’s affordable lotions, fragrances, and bath and body products.

Just this past January, Sea Spa Salon in Edgartown opened a retail store in Nevin Square. There you can find all kinds of beauty essentials, including hair products and accessories, skin care (from Decleor Paris, Image and Farmhouse Fresh), organic sun care from Coola, and a fun line of makeup called Rouge Bunny Rouge, which the staff swears by.

Of course, there’s also a wide range of nail polishes. Among the brands that Sea Spa carries are Essie ($8.50), vegan brand SpaRitual ($12), and Vinylux ($15). The latter, from company Creative Nail Design (CND) is a polish that lasts for a week and requires no base coat. According to their website “Exposure to natural light secures the patent-pending technology, creating an enduring, long-lasting polish.”

Jenna Wheeler of Sea Spa says of Vinylux, “You can literally walk out the door right after doing your nails. It’s a lot quicker — somewhere in between a regular manicure and a shellac. Dry time is cut way down.”

Upscale apothecary Rouge Luxe in Oak Bluffs offers makeup and nail polish along with its wonderful selection of skincare products, fragrances, and home scent items. Owner Kathryn Magistrini has selected the Deborah Lippmann line of nail polishes for their healthier eco-friendly approach. The varnishes, in fab colors, contain no formaldehyde, toluene, or DBP, and are not animal tested. Polishes range from $18 to $20 and, for $45, you can purchase a gel lab treatment system with a top and base coat that give your polish the look of a gel treatment.

Rouge Luxe has an Island exclusive on the brand, as they do with the following popular lines: – Kiehls skin care, Bare Minerals and Bare Escentuals makeup, and Art of Shaving men’s products.

Whichever your polish brand of choice, there’s a wide array of options available right here on the Vineyard. So, looking forward to barefoot, flip-flop, peep-toe, sandal season, add some extra color to your outlook. Just about any shade goes great with sandy toes.

Louie Larsen grew up working with his dad, "Big Louie." Now his son Andrew (shown getting a free ride about 20 years ago, top) works side by side (bottom) with him at The Net Result in Vineyard Haven. — Photo by Alison Shaw.

The Times recently spoke with fathers and their sons and daughters who work together in family businesses. The benefits, they unanimously report, far outweigh the challenges. One upside? Most of them will be spending Father’s Day together — working.

The Net Result

Louis Larsen grew working at the family business — Larsen’s Fish Market in Menemsha, and ran the store for a few summers in the early 1970s. He stuck with the business when he and his wife Beth opened the Net Result on Beach Road in 1985. Their son Andrew has been working full time for three years.

Andrew Larsen, left, and his dad, Louie Larsen work side by side at The Net Result.
Andrew Larsen, left, and his dad, Louie Larsen work side by side at The Net Result.

Louie Larsen: I grew up working with my father. It was great. Working with my son is awesome. I’m glad he’s here. You feel like you’re teaching somebody. He definitely has more patience than I do. When it’s your own child you’re proud that he takes an interest in your job.

My father just passed away this year. I used to make it a habit to have a cookout on Father’s Day and get all of the family together. Not sure what we’ll do this year.

Andrew Larsen: It’s going great. The family is the most important thing. When you boil it down there’s nothing else.


Giordano’s has been a family-run business since 1930 when Edwardo and Mary Giordano founded the popular restaurant. Today, there are multiple family members involved, including the owners — brothers Richie and Buster (grandsons of the founders), Richie’s children Michael and Leanne, and Buster’s sons Billie, Carl, and Jason.

Michael Giordano (left) and his dad, Richie, work side by side making pizza.
Michael Giordano (left) and his dad, Richie, work side by side making pizza.

Richie Giordano: It’s really satisfying working with your son, but it is challenging, because you expect more. We’re not just in the building together, we’re in the pizza room side by side. That’s the challenging part. The family understands the nature of the business — it’s a seasonal business and there are long hours. There are times when there’s an event that they want to go to, but they just suck it up and do the job. With family you have that mesh where the gears are working together. It’s one happy family. Not all of the time but most of the time.

Winter to me is make-up time. What we can’t do in the summer time we try to make it up as a family in the winter.

Michael Giordano was an early pizza helper.
Michael Giordano was an early pizza helper.

Michael Giordano: Working for your family is a unique situation. It’s an experience that not many people get. It can be tough, but it’s really rewarding too. When I was a little kid I always begged my Dad to take me to work with him, and of course he would bring me along. I’d fold pizza boxes on the marble bench in front of the window with him. We’ve spent every summer working together on that very same marble bench, him composing the pizzas and me cooking them. My father is extremely insightful and knowledgable. He’s taught me many valuable life lessons while working together. He’s always preached to think twice before I act.

My dad and I both love hockey. We go to Bruins games when we can, but that’s few and far between.

Leanne Giordano started out folding pizza boxes.
Leanne Giordano started out folding pizza boxes.

Leanne Giordano: I was a box folder as a child. The only acceptable form of payment those days was multiple rides on the Flying Horses. I’ve been a busser, a pizza room cashier, host, and server before becoming the dining room manager. We continue to learn the ways of our great grandparents and grandparents through my dad and uncle in hopes of continuing the family tradition. Working with my dad is a privilege — he’s hard-working, kind, generous. However, we’re working on his jokes; they’re only funny the first ten times!

Reliable Market

Bob Pacheoc and his son, Ed.
Bob Pacheoc and his son, Ed.

The Reliable Market was founded in 1947 by Eddie and Helen Pacheco. For three generations, every immediate family member has worked in the store. Helen Pacheco worked in the store right up until 2005, when she passed away at age 91. Today Bob and his wife, Donna, are joined in the operation by their two children, Jennifer Lynn Freeman and Eddie Pacheco. The market closes on Sundays at 1 pm so that the entire family can get together outside of work, so Fathers Day won’t be quite all work and no play.

Bob Pacheco: It’s great working with family. It’s something we’ve done for so long. I’m proud to have my kids working for me and have the family tradition continue. When my mom was alive, Sunday afternoon was family time. It’s Just something we’d like to continue. We get to spend time with the grandchildren. I look forward to it every week. It’s a different dynamic outside of work. It’s a little more relaxed.

Eddie Pacheco: The work environment isn’t much different than any other boss/employee relationship. What’s challenging from time to time is keeping the store at the store and not bringing it home. We try not to talk about the store outside of work.

Jen (Pacheco) Freeman: I’ve never worked under anyone else except my grandmother. It’s very special working for family. You can’t be fired – but you can’t quit!

Cottage Haven Interiors is a new store in Vineyard Haven that focuses on custom home goods. — Ron Lawrence

Walk along the sidewalk from Five Corners to the beginning of Main Street, Vineyard Haven and it is impossible not to take notice of Cottage Haven Interiors. Set between the Chamber of Commerce Building and the Mansion House at 18 Beach Street, designer Ron Lawrence’s store and showroom is located in a historic colonial era house set back from the busy street and framed by a small elegant, garden that reflects his company statement, “Living in Simple Elegance.”

Cottage Haven Interiors offers “distinctive home furnishings, unique accessories and personal esthetic essentials that will impart simple elegance to your home and lifestyle,” according to its website.

Products include the complete Shabby Chic collection from designer Rachel Ashwell, Bella Notte linens, and bedding and unique lamps and lighting designs that include floor candle holders and chandeliers set amidst an atmosphere of tranquil music and clouds of whites, neutrals and soft pastel hues.

“I wanted to create a destination,” said Mr. Lawrence, who first began operating a business in 2008. “A treat for the senses. People can come in and relax.”

The shop, which opened its doors on May 11, features a series of decorated rooms that give it the feel of a lovingly furnished, comfortable home. The multiple themed showrooms display a variety of items with a variety of price points.

Beautiful, inviting comfortable beds display antique inspired or high quality cotton linens. Gorgeous throws and pillows adorn chairs. There are rugs, chandeliers and other lighting fixtures, and dressers, bookcases, nightstands, cabinets, and tables with a country genteel look.

In one corner of the front room finely tailored clothing in silk, satin, and linens hang from a circular rack. “I try to stay with natural fibers and American made when I can,” Ron (he prefers to be less formal) said. European style and quality is not absent. A visitor will also find gorgeous Italian made cashmere and silk throws, and a quaint little apothecary room that features different lines of French scents.

Mr. Lawrence’s design sense aligns well with the Vineyard aesthetic. Going forward he wants to add to the local art and photography that now adorn the walls of the store, he said.

“I’ve had a lifelong passion for creativity, the arts and beautiful classic design,” he wrote on his website. “But a deep love and appreciation of nature has always been at my core, providing a constant source of inspiration, rejuvenation and respite in an all too often hurried and frenetic world. Being drawn to serene qualities found in natural outdoor settings, I especially enjoy bringing into interior environments that same sense of tranquility and harmonious balance.”

The new store, located in a former home built in 1797 and known as the Luce house, features a bounty of products but there’s nothing cluttered or overly busy about the decor. That’s due to the clearly evident design talents of the owner and his ability to incorporate a variety of different items in a way that blends well together.

Ron has transformed the space, which most recently housed a home security business, into an elegant oasis of fine taste. Virtually everything one might need or want in a home – indoors and out – may be found at the spacious store or on his website. Most items, including furniture and lighting, can be custom ordered in a wide variety of colors, fabrics and finishes, he said.

Ron moved to the Island last year with Jim Berney, his partner of 17 years. Their plan is to call Martha’s Vineyard home, and to eventually retire here. Among his varied careers, he has worked as an interior designer, model, makeup artist, and editor of an international art and design magazine. The former fine arts major, also studied photography at the Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles. Although he has owned and operated a showroom and online business for six years, this is his first venture as a store owner.

“Living on the Vineyard is a dream I’ve had since I was in high school, and after years of vacationing and visiting the Vineyard I have finally made it a reality. I’m thrilled to finally be living here,” he said.

With his latest venture, Mr. Lawrence appears to be living his dream in more ways than one. He finds that he has the ideal job, living and working among beautiful things, and it provides the opportunity to get acquainted with Vineyarders and visitors who share his love of beautiful things.

Cottage Haven Interiors is located on 18 Beach St. in Vineyard Haven. A driveway between the store and the Chamber of Commerce building provides access to a parking lot.

For more information, visit or call 508-338-2699.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct several inaccuracies with regard to product descriptions and Mr. Lawrence’s history on the Vineyard.