A whale for Island boys and girls

Peggy Zablotny
Artist Peggy Zablotny sits with her whale, which will be auctioned at the Artisan's Festival this Saturday. Photo by Ben Scott

By Eleni Collins - November 22, 2006

In addition to the Tashmoo Overlook, another scenic landmark could be found on State Road in Vineyard Haven during the past few months. Outside of its sponsor store, Crane Appliance, sat Peggy Zablotny's beautiful floral whale named "A Whale of a Garden," enclosed in a white picket fence. This weekend, the whale will be auctioned with three others in an effort to raise money for the Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Martha's Vineyard Boys and Girls Club.

Greg Rollins, director of the Boys and Girls Club, was happy to be chosen by Crane Appliance as one of the two beneficiaries of the whale's profits during the Cape and Islands Whale trail fundraiser.

"We were lucky. The club's been here for 70 years. Every longstanding business down here has been depended on, so for somebody to come to the Island relatively recently and recognize the importance of the club, it was great. We are very grateful to Mr. Crane," said Mr. Rollins.

The Crane Appliance store opened on the Vineyard in 2000. Since then, owners Bob and Paula Crane have been a big presence in Island fundraising.

"We do various charities on the Island all the time, whether it's sports, for the schools, or Island housing," Mr. Crane said. According to Mr. Crane, they became involved in the whale trail through Jeff Kristal, president of the Tisbury Business Association, who also referred them to artist Peggy Zablotny.

Unlike the other three whales, it is not actually painted. Vineyard Haven artist Peggy Zablotny used floral vinyl prints on the whale, her specific style of artistry.

"Because my medium is print, I thought, 'how am I going to do something on this whale that's not paint?' My prints, rather than made on paper, are made on exterior grade vinyl. It was quite an ordeal," Ms. Zablotny explained in an interview this summer.

Combined with the rainy spring that forced her to work on her monstrous whale in her living room, the whale is a testament of her dedication to her work. Thankfully for her, people noticed.

"A lot of people went by and realized it was my whale, and I got a lot of great comments. They said, 'who else would do flowers like that?'" Complete with a white picket fence, it will complement any backyard or garden.

Both Mr. Rollins and Ms. Zablotny are grateful for Bob Crane's help. For the artist, Mr. Crane offered a showroom to use as a studio during the rainy spring. When Ms. Zablotny suggested the whale be moved to her house, he saw to it.

"If Bob didn't ask what he could do for me, I would still be working on it," said Ms. Zablotny this summer.

In addition to their yearly fund-raisers such as their Christmas ball and golf tournament, new ideas for events to benefit the Boys and Girls Club are welcomed wholeheartedly, as they are what begin traditions.

"You have to have new ideas, because there's no guarantees in any of this, believe me," said Mr. Rollins. "He [Mr. Crane] did this on his own. He first sponsored our road race, but this was uncharted water. It was just a whim. He put up all the money to buy the whale, but it's hard to tell how the auction will pan out," said Mr. Rollins.

To place a bid online before the Island auction takes place, visit capeandislandswhaletrail.com. The live auction will take place on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 3:30 pm during the Artisan's Festival at the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury. It will follow a silent auction on Friday. The highest bid from the silent auction will begin Saturday's event.