Authors Posts by Naomi Pallas

Naomi Pallas


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An adaptive boat sails into Vineyard Haven Harbor.

Jabberwocky campers and counselors aboard the (Im)Possible Dream adaptive sailboat in the Vineyard Haven harbor. Photo by Andrew Ditges
Cy Brigish and Peter Bradeen enjoying the seas. Photo by Andrew Ditges
Cy Brigish and Peter Bradeen enjoying the seas. Photo by Andrew Ditges

Camp Jabberwocky campers and counselors wheeled smoothly onboard a 60-foot catamaran yacht for a day on the ocean last Saturday, August 13. Once the captain got them out of the harbor, campers were able to raise the sails, steer, and drive the boat across the smooth and sunny waters of Vineyard Haven.

The wheelchair-accessible vessel is named the Impossible Dream — with the “Im” aptly crossed out in paint on the boat’s side. It arrived in Vineyard Haven Harbor on Friday, August 12, for a cocktail reception hosted by local championship sailor Charlie Shipway. Mr. Shipway discussed the benefits of adaptive sailing — sailing on boats adapted specially for the transportation and comfort of disabled people — and his hopes of starting an adaptive sailing program on Martha’s Vineyard.

On Saturday, Camp Jabberwocky campers set sail on the Impossible Dream with the help of Sail MV’s Brock Callen, Jabberwocky counselors, and Harry Horgan and Deborah Mellen from Shake-a-Leg Miami, the Florida-based boating facility for the disabled that adopted the Impossible Dream a few years ago. Thanks to the vessel’s adaptive features, such as wheelchair-accessible ramps and ample space to wheel around the boat, the campers didn’t need much help once they reached open water.

“We go on various boats, but Impossible Dream was one of the coolest handi-capable boats I’ve ever seen,” said Jabberwocky volunteer Andrew Ditges in an interview with the Times. “Usually we have to carry lots of campers onto boats, which can be a challenge, but we didn’t have to do that this time. The cabin is designed so that wheelchairs can be wheeled right in, and every camper who wanted to drive the boat for a couple of minutes was able to,” he said. Mr. Ditges added that the experience was especially rewarding for campers with cerebral palsy who are completely capable mentally, but not physically.

Jabberwocky camper Peter Bradeen said that he enjoyed every part of the trip. “I helped out with the driving,” he told The Times.

The Impossible Dream was created by paraplegic Mike Browne with the goal of allowing those in wheelchairs to sail around the world in an adaptive vessel. According to the Impossible Dream website,, their joint mission with Shake-a-Leg Miami is “to engage the global community and inspire people with disabilities, wounded soldiers, disadvantaged youth, and their families to improve their independence and quality of life.”

Today, the Impossible Dream is traveling along the East Coast to increase awareness about what’s possible through adaptive sailing. Along the way, the team visits programs such as Camp Jabberwocky to allow people with special needs and their families to go out sailing. The boat will dock at various ports throughout New England before returning to Miami this fall.

When asked about the prospect of an adaptive sailing program with vessels like the Impossible Dream coming to the Island, Mr. Ditges said, “We’d be totally on board with it.”

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The first official West Tisbury Day brings crowds and smiles.

Brian Ditchfield as the Ringmaster (in red) leads children in Cinema Circus activity at the Grange Hall.Photo by Maria Thibodeau

Anyone who traveled through historic West Tisbury last Saturday, August 15, may have witnessed a few things that set the day apart from the usual sleepy Saturday at the library, sculpture garden, or church: The air smelled of peaches. A harmony of voices drifted out of the library’s doors. An elephant named Ellie stomped across the grounds at the Grange Hall.

These unusual sights were all part of the first official West Tisbury Day, a celebration of the town and community through the coincidentally simultaneous Peach Festival at the First Congregational Church, Frozen Yogurt Social at the West Tisbury library, and the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival’s (TMVFF) Cinema Circus event at the Grange Hall. Cinema Circus director Alexandra London-Thompson told the Times that she came up with the idea to tie all the events together just one week before: “I was feeling bad that our events would all be competing, but then I thought, ‘Wait a moment, this doesn’t have to be a negative thing at all. We can actually make this very positive.’”

The neighboring festivities began at 9 am on Saturday with the weekly Farmers Market, a summer tradition in West Tisbury. Vendors set up their stalls at the Grange Hall and sold local produce and crafts from around the Island, including the always popular Chilmark Coffee, Grey Barn cheeses, and a selection of baked goods.

The First Congregational Church of West Tisbury hosted the annual Peach Festival on Saturday, part of West Tisbury Day. Photo by Michael Cummo
The First Congregational Church of West Tisbury hosted the annual Peach Festival on Saturday, part of West Tisbury Day. Photo by Michael Cummo

As the market wound down at noon, the First Congregational Church opened its doors for the sixth annual Peach Festival. The festival always falls on the second Saturday of August, when Massachusetts peaches are at their peak. Many families sat around picnic tables, or sprawled out on the lawn of the church, and enjoyed homemade peach products in the form of parfaits, smoothies, ice cream, and shortcake.

Island resident Dionis Montrowl, who manages the Peach Festival’s operations, remarked that this year was especially busy. “During the first 30 minutes we had 350 people come in, which is certainly a record for the first 30 minutes of any of our events,” said Ms. Montrowl. She added that the only complaints she’d heard were about the increase in traffic on the way in and out of the district.

A few doors down from the church, the Cinema Circus event took place at the Grange Hall from 3 to 7 pm. As part of TMVFF’s programming, the popular family festivity invited children and their parents to learn about filmmaking and acting, all with a circus-themed twist. Outside the hall, the Ringmaster, Rory the Lion (played by TMVFF founders Brian Ditchfield and Thomas Bena, respectively), and Ellie the Elephant entertained little ones around the Big Top Tent, and IMP for Kids held improv workshops at the playground. Indoor activities included character studies with costumes from the Clown Corner, balloon art, and face painting.

Across the street at the West Tisbury library, the a capella group Vineyard Sound performed a show at 4 pm followed by complimentary frozen yogurt from Tisberry. According to the library, the Frozen Yogurt Social, or FroYoSo for short, made possible thanks to the generous support of the Beagary Trust.



The action-packed day came to a close with a screening of international short films for kids upstairs at the Grange Hall as the sun went down behind the trees outside.

Ms. London-Thompson told The Times that, despite the short amount of time the participants had to prepare, the first official West Tisbury Day was a success. “West Tisbury is one of my favorite spots on this Island. There is such a nice group of people who run the businesses in the area, and it’s so beautiful. It deserves to be appreciated,” she said.

So will there be another one next year? We’ll just have to wait and see.


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The Moth storytelling event returns to the Tabernacle.

The Moth Presents: You Are Here drew a huge crowd at the Oak Bluffs Tabernacle on Friday night. Photo by Siobhan Beasley

The lights of the Tabernacle glowed at the center of the Oak Bluffs Campgrounds last Friday evening. Nearly every seat was full, and the venue was silent; Circuit Avenue and the rest of the Island seemed very far away. A slight woman with a blond bob walked onto the stage and, with a breath, began to tell her story.

This was the return of the Moth, the awardwinning nonprofit organization that celebrates the art and craft of storytelling. Since 1997, the Moth has traveled the world to help those with a story to tell understand, form, and share their experiences with others. Through WCAI, the organization produces the Peabody Awardwinning “Moth Radio Hour” on NPR, a weekly Moth podcast, and reoccurring live stage events like the ones that have occurred on the Island each summer for the past five years.

Mary Wolverton served as the musical talent for the evening and as timekeeper to let storytellers know when they've gone on too long by jokingly playing the "Jaws" theme. Photo by Siobhan Beasley
Mary Wolverton served as the musical talent for the evening and as timekeeper to let storytellers know when they’ve gone on too long by jokingly playing the “Jaws” theme. Photo by Siobhan Beasley

After a performance by local violinist Mary Wolverton and an introduction by Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association director of programs Bob Cleasby, Moth host Dan Kennedy took the stage to loud applause. Many have heard Mr. Kennedy’s familiar voice, from telling stories on NPR or as host of the Moth podcast.

Mr. Kennedy continued by explaining the rules of the Moth: Each storyteller has a 10- to 12-minute limit at the microphone, with no notes or cheat sheets. Due to the vulnerability that comes with telling a personal story, Mr. Kennedy asked the audience to vocalize their support; or, at least, to make more noise than Nantucket did a few nights earlier.

In the tradition of the Moth’s live stage events, Friday’s reading also shared a theme. This year each storyteller expressed their relationship to the theme “You Are Here,” interpreting it in a few different ways: as existing within a landscape; by reaching a certain stage along an internal journey; or to still be physically here by surviving an illness.

The slight blond woman, playwright Danusia Trevino, told the first story of the evening. She brought the audience to New York City, where she was, belatedly, rebelling. At age 30, Ms. Trevino became a U.S. citizen,

Storyteller Danusia Trevino. Photo by Siobhan Beasley
Storyteller Danusia Trevino. Photo by Siobhan Beasley

went through a divorce, joined a New York City punk-rock band — and (a more mundane milestone) was summoned for jury duty. In a deadpan voice with a Polish accent, she told how this seemingly ordinary experience of legal obligation snapped her out of her insubordinate delusion. She realized there were more important things to worry about “here,” in society, like, returning a young black man accused of robbery to his family, innocent.

The next story came from local farmer and chef Chris Fischer, who transported the audience to his family-run Beetlebung Farm in Chilmark on the evening that all Island chefs both dream about and fear: when the President comes for dinner. With his hands clasped behind his back, Mr. Fischer told of Secret Service agents checking between each rock in a stone wall, and of Obama’s firm handshake. He left the audience in the dining room watching a young employee sweep the crumbs of the

Chris Fisher told audience memebers about the time he served dinner to the President and the First Lady at the Beach Plum Inn. Photo by Siobhan Beasley
Chris Fisher told audience memebers about the time he served dinner to the President and the First Lady at the Beach Plum Inn. Photo by Siobhan Beasley

First Family’s meal from the floor and remembering that we are privileged to live here, on an island where the leader of our country chooses to spend his vacation.

Those familiar with the Moth series know that not every storyteller uses humor to captivate the audience. The third storyteller, Cybele Abbett of Oregon, described the year her youngest child came out as transgender. She recalled visits to psychiatrists and medical doctors, the steps she took toward understanding what it means to be transgender, and the moment that her son walked topless through the house for the first time after his breast-reduction surgery. Ms. Abbett’s “here” was an internal place of acceptance.

The Times spoke with Moth senior producer Meg Bowles, who selected the evening’s stories, about the Moth’s process of paring down a lengthy personal story into a 10-minute presentation.

“The first time our storytellers go over their stories with us, it takes them almost an hour,” Ms. Bowles said. “We work with them one-on-one to pick out the important details.”

Ms. Bowles has directed each of the Island’s Moth events. “New England has this reputation of being very reserved, but that isn’t the case here,” she said. “The crowd shows so much love and support, especially to their own local storytellers.”

After an intermission, Island actor and resident Paul Munafo stepped up to the microphone. He shared his story of a decade-long battle with hepatitis, a midnight trip to Massachusetts General Hospital for a liver transplant after months of rejections and false alarms, and the feeling of waking up from surgery in a hospital bed surrounded by his family.

“As an actor, getting up in front of people didn’t bother me so much,” Mr. Munafo told The Times when he left the stage. “It’s just that the story itself is so personal. It was my first time ever telling it in that way.”

Dan Kennedy told the audience about his evening eating a bagful of Backdoor Donuts while peering into Oak Bluffs houses. Photo by Siobhan Beasley
Dan Kennedy told the audience about his evening eating a bagful of Backdoor Donuts while peering into Oak Bluffs houses. Photo by Siobhan Beasley

Mr. Kennedy allowed the audience a second round of applause for Mr. Munafo before introducing the final storyteller of the evening, author and multiple-time Moth participant Reza Jalali. Mr. Jalali spoke in a poetic cadence that allowed the audience to envision stars rising over his hometown in Kurdistan, as they did when he was a child, and as they continued to do when he returned after the town had been nearly demolished in the Iran-Iraq war.

“I feel that people need to hear this kind of story, about what happens to memory and to people after a war,” Mr. Jalali said in an interview with The Times. “I was looking forward to telling it to globally-minded, educated people on Martha’s Vineyard, and I was not disappointed.”

Like the moths that were drawn to the Tabernacle lights throughout the evening and to the lights on the porch in Georgia where the Moth was first conceived, members of the audience hovered around the storytellers at the evening’s end. Some congratulated the storytellers, some thanked them, and some began to share their own similar stories.

For those who did not attend the August 7 event, the five stories told at the Tabernacle are being considered for inclusion in future Moth podcasts and NPR “Moth Radio Hours.” For more information on the Moth series and events, visit

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The YMCA of MV's sold out Stars + Stripes festival attracts big name bands for the organizations annual fundraiser. – Photo courtesy YMCA of MV

Updated July 7

The YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard’s annual Stars + Stripes music festival celebrated its 5th birthday on Friday at Flatbread Company in Edgartown. Over 750 people attended, indulging in pizza and libations, as four big-name bands and two young local singers filled the restaurant with dancing and music that could be heard as far as the MV Airport down the road.

Since the festival’s conception in 2010, Stars + Stripes founders Derek Davies and Lizzy Plapinger have brought nearly 20 high profile bands to the Island, given ten local students the opportunity to perform before large audiences, and raised over $400,000 in ticket sales and sponsorship donations–100% of which directly benefits the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard.

The larger community contributed to the night’s success. Offshore Ale was the official beer sponsor and Our Market was the official Liquor and Wine sponsor for the event.  Giveaways were generously donated by Norton Point, Vineyard Vines, and Lululemon for the sponsors and first 100 attendees.

As one of the Island’s only music festivals (Martha’s Vineyard Sound Fest takes place at Waban Park in Oak Bluffs next weekend), Stars + Stripes sold out all 700 tickets this year, (as with all previous years), but this marked the first time that tickets sold out in advance of the show.

The highly anticipated evening began at 7:30 pm, when director of YMCA’s teen program Alex’s Place, Tony Lombardi, took the stage.

“You can’t keep a good thing down,” Mr. Lombardi said of the festival and its commitment to the local community, before introducing two young musicians from Alex’s Place who, as tradition goes, open the show each year.

This year, Oak Bluffs School student Leah Hairston became the youngest Stars + Stripes performer at age 12, with her rendition of “House of the Rising Sun.” Upcoming Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School freshman Robert Hanjian followed with an Oasis cover.

The Times sat down with Mr. Davies and Ms. Plapinger for an interview as the first headlining group of the night, indie rock band Santah, began to play.

“Stars + Stripes is really about giving back to the community,” said Mr. Davies, as Santah singer Vivian McConnell saturated the restaurant’s dance floor and garden area with passionate vocals.

“Martha’s Vineyard is our favorite place in the world,” Ms. Plapinger agreed.

The pair met at the Chilmark Community Center as kids and bonded over their love of music and the Island. They founded record label Neon Gold Records in 2008 and began bringing members of the Neon Gold family to the Island for the first Stars + Stripes in 2011.

In honor of the festival’s fifth anniversary, Mr. Davies and Ms. Plapinger organized a “greatest hits” version of Stars + Stripes by inviting past headliners Alex Winston and Walk the Moon back to the stage. Walk the Moon is currently at the top of this summer’s music billboards with their hit “Shut Up and Dance.” Santah and NYC-based duo ASTR rounded off the bill with their Martha’s Vineyard debuts.

By Santah’s finale, the dance floor was filled with people of all ages (over 21 per the event’s policy). Alex Winston got everyone moving with her Stars + Stripes classics, followed by ASTR with an hour-long electronic/hip hop set.

According to Mr. Davies, the festival is as much about giving back to the Island as it is about giving back to their artists.

“As a touring artist, it’s so rare that you actually get to experience the places that you’re visiting. We like to be able to give that ability to the bands we work with,” Mr. Davies said.

In lieu of performance profit, Stars + Stripes artists receive a three-day, all-expenses-paid visit to the Island, donated largely by Beach Plum Inn in Chilmark.

Santah’s Stanton McConnell said of his Island experience, “As soon as we set foot on Martha’s Vineyard, I felt a strange peace within me… It’s also the only place I’ve ever sound checked in my swim trunks.”

When the highly anticipated Walk the Moon began to play just before midnight, the energy of the crowd was at its peak. Everyone sang in unison to covers of the Killers and Miley Cyrus, and the summer’s music season seemed to start with the first stanza of “Shut Up and Dance,” “Oh, don’t you dare look back/just keep your eyes on me.”

Along with it’s fundraising initiatives Stars + Stripes served as the kick off to the YMCA’s Summer Music Series and will be followed by several shows at Alex’s Place with special guests Dana Williams, We Are the New Generation, Amie Penwell, Ellis Paul, Charlie Nadler, and the series finale show with the Nashville Hitmakers on September 19 back at Flatbread. Tickets are available at

Pull the splinters from my eardrums

so I can hear what it sounds like when

the earth stumbles on a

Thursday afternoon

when it cracks a stranger’s

shoulder open on the way down and gasps

Wash the dirt from Friday’s eyes

and show me skinned palms and bloody knees

I’ll say sorry twice and mean it and find

band-aids along gap-toothed avenues

while you lick the smoke from my fingers and smile

Tuesday needs clean hands to disinfect and breathe

so blow the ash off my collarbones and fill them

with next door’s burning incense and indoor

voices until there are no bricks on my ankles

and we can climb

a black tower of bedroom doors and birthday presents

Up, up Thursday

it’s cold for April.

Quiet the wind and let me feel the fallen city blush

Naomi Pallas is a former reporter for the Martha’s Vineyard Times. This poem was written after the explosion in New York City’s East Village, in which Naomi had an apartment. Fortunately, all is well.

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Panoramas fill the gallery's walls. — Michael Cummo

Michael Johnson did not study photography in school. He never spent hours poring over photographs in books or magazines, nor did he pick up a camera as a child and know that he would dedicate his life to the art. Photography simply didn’t occur to him.

The exterior of Mr. Johnson's Vineyard Haven gallery.
The exterior of Mr. Johnson’s Vineyard Haven gallery.

Yet today his panoramic images that span the vibrant cliffs of Gay Head and cloudy winter skies over Lucy Vincent Beach and his photographic studies of Inkwell Beach and other Oak Bluffs icons hang in some of the Island’s best known galleries and artisan markets. He has become a staple among photography educators on the Island and one of the foremost Oak Bluffs cultural documenters, thanks to a last-minute decision and some advice from good friends, or, as he calls them, his “angels.”

“I’ve always believed in Peter’s Principle of Pull,” Mr. Johnson said in an interview with The Times. “Push is when you go to school and you work hard to do all these things. Pull is when you find people who have more power than you and use their talent to pull you along.”

Mr. Johnson grew up a music lover in Englewood, N.J. He sang in rock bands throughout his youth before deciding one day to take a different direction, though what he would do he did not know — until his first Peter’s Principle encounter.

“I don’t mean it metaphorically when I say that God spoke to me,” Mr. Johnson told The Times. One day he heard a voice in his ear, he said, that told him to go to school for video production. At age 29 he enrolled in a class at Bergen Community College, discovered an affinity for visual art, borrowed $350 from his father to buy a 35mm camera, and headed to the Vineyard.

“I had nine days off from a crappy job,” he said. Mr. Johnson alighted from the ferry with few belongings aside from his camera in May of 1981. The morning after he arrived, he said, “I had a job and a place to stay by 11 am. That’s how the Vineyard was back then. And those 9 days turned into 15 years.”

Mr. Johnson's photographs feature many Martha's Vineyard locales.
Mr. Johnson’s photographs feature many Martha’s Vineyard locales.

Inspired by the rural character of the Island and its quiet winters, Mr. Johnson began chronicling up-Island locales such as Cedar Tree Neck and Aquinnah through black-and-white film photographs. He turned to the books and built a darkroom in his Oak Bluffs home where he perfected the art of developing and printing while using the Vineyard artist community’s support and feedback to train his eye. Mr. Johnson credits the Dutch and Flemish painting masters with the emergence of his artistic style: traditional in technique, original in execution. “I love their use of light,” he said. “I try to emulate that emotion in my work.”

Throughout his 30 years as an artist Mr. Johnson has grown from classic black-and-white images of cosmopolitan Oak Bluffs to expansive panoramas that vividly depict the Island’s most beloved landscapes. A glimpse at the large images, comprised of smaller images digitally stitched together and printed on canvas, will take you directly to the foot of the Gay Head Light or the sands of Inkwell Beach.

Peter’s Principle of Pull brought Mr. Johnson back as a seasonal resident after he attempted to leave the Island for San Francisco in the 90s, he said. Due either to his humble nature or to pure disbelief that he, an autodidact, could be included among the trained Island greats, Mr. Johnson said that it took some persistent convincing by his friends in the art community before he considered attempting to live off his art during Vineyard summers.

Thanks to the late artist Richard Lee and his wife, Claudia Canerdy, and Cousen Rose Gallery owner Zita Cousens (“gallery angels,” as he refers to them), Mr. Johnson’s works now hang in his Main Street Vineyard Haven gallery, nestled among a verdant garden next to Nat’s Nook, and on the walls of Cousen Rose Gallery on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs. His latest projects include an exposition of the life and culture of Oak Bluffs, a town that “has not gotten its due artistically,” and street photography set in Cuba and San Francisco’s Mission District, where he lives seven months of the year.

Recognizable by his warm smile and an open, friendly demeanor, Mr. Johnson greets passersby from his Vineyard Haven gallery on Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays, and Mondays. He sells his photographs and merchandise at the Chilmark Flea Market, and he curates the Featherstone Photo Salons at which experienced photographers offer their insight and ideas to emerging artists. On Monday evenings, he teaches the art of the darkroom photography to learning photographers at Featherstone’s Open Darkrooms.

“I think the tech aspect is relatively easy,” he said. “Training your eye and developing your narrative are the hardest and most ongoing parts.”

Michael Johnson’s Photo Studio is located at 34A Main Street and is open from 12 noon to 5 pm on Thursday, Friday, Sunday, and Monday, or by appointment. For more information, visit

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Dana Williams performs at Alex's Place this Saturday. — Ian Maxion

Alex’s Place at the YMCA will play host to a young artist making waves on the modern jazz and hip-hop scenes this weekend. On Saturday, July 19, singer Dana Williams will bring her effortless voice and timeless lyrics to the stage at 8 pm.

With inspirations such as Queen of Jazz Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, Ms. Williams writes and records her own music and covers that of others. Hailing from a musical family (her father was guitarist David Williams), the 24-year-old singer’s vocals and natural stage presence have recently landed her a collaboration with rap artist Freddie Gibbs and the role of soundtrack artist for music executive Damon Dash’s new fashion line.

Along with original jazz melodies, her repertoire includes Lana Del Rey pop hits, folk songs by Band of Horses, and Americana by the likes of Shovels and Rope. Ms. Williams’s cover of “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac with actress/musician Leighton Meester garnered more than 1 million Youtube views, and she has earned thousands of views for her originals and solo covers.

Tickets are $12 in advance at; $15 at the door. For more information about Ms. Williams and Alex’s Place, visit

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Crft Shw enjoyed a crowd at last Thursday's opening. — Michael Cummo

Four out of the five routes at the infamous Five Corners intersection in Vineyard Haven are well traveled roads that lead to and from key Island spots; whether your destination is the Steamship Authority in Vineyard Haven, Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs, or South Beach in Edgartown, Five Corners will get you there — if a bit precariously.

Then there is the shorter fifth street — Beach Road Extension — that is lightly traveled aside from those headed to the Black Dog Restaurant or seeking a view of the harbor’s tall ships. Last Thursday, July 9, that fifth route saw more traffic than usual as art lovers poured in and out of a new gallery, Crft Shw (pronounced “craft show,”) along Beach Road Extension while sipping glasses of champagne and drinking in the atmosphere of modern artwork and wares backed by pulsing electronic music at a grand opening that showcased more than 20 artists.

At first glance, Crft Shw appears to be a quaint hole in the wall wedged between Eastern Yacht Sales and Terrain Architects along a small strip of shops and company buildings. Like the Island itself, it hardly seems possible that a space so small could house more than a few artists at a time, yet the gallery is overflowing with an eclectic array of talents that wouldn’t be out of place at a Brooklyn boutique. Gallery owners Whitney Blank and Deanna deVries have designed the space to allow for the showcasing of the works of artists with local ties, while still leaving room for a workshop/studio in the back.

“We’re showing all of our friends’ work, and hopefully they’ll treat us like their playground,” Ms. Blank said in an interview with The Times. “We want to grow in order to help them grow: it’s not really a for-profit endeavor.”

Ms. deVries and Ms. Blank have lived on the Island since 2012 when a tour with L.A.-based girls band Wet and Reckless took them eastward. Ms. deVries had made Island ties through her classmates such as Hannah Keefe at MassArt where she studied metalsmithing, and the two have spent their years here making friends with local artists and developing their own trades.

“I hope we can create a different voice for the Vineyard in a way because there are a lot of great galleries here, but we have a whole cadre of people who aren’t in those galleries and are making work for a different crowd,” said Ms. Blank.

Ms. deVries added, “We want to focus on artists who we think are underrepresented or underserved.”

Ms. Blank and Ms. deVries use the entirety of their modest space to showcase eccentric works of varying media. Intricate wire sculptures by Duncan Niederlitz tumble from the ceiling and walls; Colin Ruel’s fantastical floral paintings in neon hues are sandwiched between metal-and-solder necklaces and earrings by Hannah Keefe and Nettie Kent’s jewelry made from stone and gold; Elizabeth Cecil’s unearthly “Surfers” photograph hangs directly opposite the entrance.

One part gallery and one part high-end retail store, Crft Shw also sells one-of-a-kind housewares. Enid McEvoy contributed weekender bags and quilts, Andrew Meers his handcrafted knives, and Tim Laursen a long wooden table that houses knickknacks of all sorts, including Ms. deVries’ playful toddler spoons and coffee scoops to accompany coffee roasted by Ms. Blank.

In keeping with past endeavors among the Vineyard artist community, the goal of Ms. Blank and Ms. deVries is to support and cultivate developing local artists. Next on their agenda is to devise workshops for young artists from local schools and to continue to highlight Island artists whose works might not fit with mainstream fine art galleries.

“The butterfly effect of teaching people about art on the Island is so cool to me,” Ms. Blank said. “For example, I lived with Tim Laursen this year and he taught me how to make stained glass, which he had learned through a grant from Featherstone. We would love to become a repository for the community to learn about art and to get inspiration from.”

Crft Shw, located in Vineyard Haven, is open from 11 am to 7 pm, Thursday through Sunday. For more information about workshops and shows, visit

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MV Sound Fest, held at Waban Park, featured 10 locally and nationally known bands. — Michael Cummo

Saturday’s super moon rose over a throng of dancers at Waban Park in Oak Bluffs. The music of Dukes County Love Affair (DCLA) blared from a set of speakers on either side of a stage that, throughout the day, housed 10 bands of local and national acclaim. Each group and musician contributed to the park’s lively ambience, yet it was DCLA bassist Phil DaRosa who, having organized the first Martha’s Vineyard Sound Festival to kickstart the new nonprofit The Island Collaborative, was to thank for the day of music, art, food, and dance.

The festival grounds were an embodiment of the community effort that The Island Collaborative aims to endorse. Volunteers and community members offered time and resources for event planning and the physical set up of the area. Local vendors, nonprofits, and artisans such as The Green Room, Eclipse Massage Therapy, and Kenworthy Fine Artisan Craft lined the grounds with booths at which they sold their products and services, and Vineyard Bottled Waters offered free water for attendees journeying to and from their spots by the stage.

The day began slowly; those connected with the Island music community and interested passersby trickled through the gates as Hawaii singer John Cruz performed the first set at 3 pm. Local artists Traeger di Pietro and Dan VanLandingham set up a canvas in the middle of the grounds to paint as the festival progressed; Tisberry Frozen Yogurt, Flatbread Pizza Company, Island Spirit Kayak’s Shaved Ice Shack and Slice of Life offered provisions to enjoy while listening to the likes of Lexie & Arlen Roth and Alex Karalekas. Children spent their afternoons getting face paint jobs and blowing bubbles with the stage as a backdrop on one side and the ocean on the other.

Somewhere between Barefoot Truth’s Will Evans’ performance at 5 pm and Good Night Louise at 5:30, festival goers covered the grass before the stage with lawn chairs and picnic blankets. Ben Taylor entertained the crowd with whimsically provocative lyrics, followed by Jazz duo Dwight & Nicole. DCLA and Johnny Hoy & the Bluefish took the stage just in time; as temperatures dropped around 8 pm, the remaining audience members kept their blood pumping by moving their feet. When the festival gates closed, after parties at Island Bar & Grill, The Dive Bar, The Ritz, The Lampost, Sand Bar & Grill, and The Port Hunter carried the music on through the night.

Many of the performers agreed that the festival’s first attempt was a successful one. “I would do it again next year, for free,” said singer/songwriter Alex Karalekas. “I’m all in favor of local outdoor music.” Island folk singer staple Willy Mason remarked that Waban Park is a “great place for a festival.”

Mr. DaRosa, too, was pleased with the outcome of the MV Sound Fest in its first year. “I couldn’t have asked for a better vibe,” he said. “The seeds have been planted.”

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Lowland Hum performs at Alex's Place on Friday. — Photo Courtesy of YMCA of M.V.

Alex’s Place presents a weekend of folk music and comedy with two shows by up-and-coming young artists. The intimate performance venue at the YMCA in Oak Bluffs will host North Carolina folk duo Lowland Hum on Friday, July 11, at 8 pm, and on Saturday, July 12, standup comedian Charlie Nadler will take the stage at 8 pm.

Lowland Hum is comprised of husband and wife Daniel and Lauren Goans who use their differing artistic expertise to create a multi-sensory musical experience for the crowd. With Daniel as a musician and Lauren a visual artist, the two employ folk music and lyrics as their main medium and they embellish each song with artistic prints and engaging scents that allow their audiences to interact with their music on multiple levels. Admission to Friday’s show is available to all ages and costs $12 in advance at, or $15 at the door.

Charlie Nadler visits his hometown this weekend and performs at Alex's Place Saturday.
Charlie Nadler visits his hometown this weekend and performs at Alex’s Place Saturday.

Charlie Nadler returns to Alex’s place this year with new comedic material that the audience is bound to both laugh at and relate to. Mr. Nadler grew up in Oak Bluffs and graduated from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in 2002 before attending Boston University and then moving to California to work in the film and TV industry. Now he lives in New York and regularly performs standup comedy shows in which he spins tales of his life on the Island and abroad with witty and suggestive humor. The show is PG-13 and costs $12 in advance ( and $15 at the door.

This weekend’s two shows are among a hefty summer roster of artists from the Island and beyond to perform at Alex’s Place. Visit for information on upcoming shows and events.