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The benefits of art
Guests thronged the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury last Thursday for a gala reception kicking off the annual Friends of Family Planning Art Show and Sale. Photos by Susan Safford
From the flowering potted plants on the front porch where volunteer Tim Lasker greeted guests at the door, to the delicious hors d'oeuvres by Jan Buhrman's Kitchen Porch and the jazzy background music by Jeremy Berlin, the annual opening party for the Friends of Martha's Vineyard Family Planning Art Show was a truly gala event. The first big art show and benefit of the season, this Memorial Day gathering traditionally draws dozens of Islanders out to visit with the friends and neighbors they may not have seen all winter while getting in practice for the busy season in a delightfully low-key way. Conversation flowed smoothly as did the cold wine and beer donated for the occasion by Our Market, Offshore Ale, and several other contributors. A number of bakers contributed sinfully sweet desserts to top off the array of delicacies.
A lush, robust fertility symbol sculpted by Jay Lagemann appeared to preside over the festive proceedings.
The clinic began in 1978, providing reproductive health services to women. Since then the program has expanded to include a wide range of clinical, educational, and advocacy programs for both men and women. Among the services now offered are routine check-ups, tests for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, birth control consultation, and confidential HIV testing and consultation. The Vineyard clinic is an agency of Health Care of Southeastern Massachusetts through which it receives state and federal funds. But additional local fundraising is crucial to allow the clinic to meet the demand for services here.
Susan and Bruce Desmerais take a wine-and-hug break beneath Carolyn Daniele's "Blue Dog with Yellow Shirt."
Names on many of the offerings were well known, but a there was a selection of fine work by less familiar artists too - a happy surprise. And prices ranged as widely as the size, style, and subject matter, from charming and inexpensive packets of note cards by several photographers and artists to some canvases by noted artists just waiting for that major donor/art lover to arrive with a healthy checkbook. Many price tags in between, though, were manageable enough so that by Sunday afternoon a number of pieces had sprouted red "sold" dots and happy contributors were coming in to pick up their treasures.
Taxidermist Janet Messineo's sparkling fish seem to leap from the water as painter Lanny McDowell's waves crash in the background.
Organizers begin during the winter to solicit artwork, much of it from a number of creative Vineyarders who participate annually. This year, a call for new artists brought a good response with at least 10 bringing their work to join in the mix. Artists receive 60 percent of the purchase price when their work is sold with Family Planning getting 40 percent. Other revenue at the event comes from cash donations and ticket sales for the reception.
For more information on Family Planning of Martha's Vineyard, call 508-693-1208.