Julian K. Robinson
Photographer Julian K. Robinson, a regular at the Pequot show, is flanked by his own bird images. Photos by Ralph Stewart

Cinderella art show celebrates good times

By Pat Waring - October 18, 2007

Equal parts culture and fun, the eighth annual Pequot Hotel Art Show drew a large and exuberant crowd to the opening reception Saturday evening to celebrate creativity, community, and the summer season's final ending. With a magical Brigadoon-like quality, the show appears just once a year, and seemingly out of nowhere. In full flower for a night and a day, it disappears again without a trace as the vintage Oak Bluffs hotel shuts for the season.

But it's not just magic that makes the vibrant event materialize, it takes hard work too. That's where Jacquelyn Brickman and Laura Kay Coggeshall come in.

The two women, both artists themselves, began the show in 2000 after working together at the hotel all summer. With the gracious support of Pequot owner Don Glassie who allowed them to take over the lobby area for the show, they invited a handful of artist friends to exhibit their work. Now, like many of the exhibitors, the two women live elsewhere and no longer spend their summers here. But the fast friends keep in touch all year and without fail return to the Vineyard every October to prepare for the art show.

Betty Boyd
Betty Boyd with her large watercolor of flowers on a stone wall.

"It's like a marathon," laughed Jacquelyn, looking exuberant and none the worse for wear despite the busy hours leading up to the opening. Both wearing sparkly dangle earrings and big smiles, the women circulated through the crowd, greeting guests with hugs and happy shrieks, handing out price lists, and keeping a watchful eye on the buffet and bar to make sure they stayed amply stocked.

While the first show eight years ago featured six artists, last weekend some 20 exhibited their work. And from a cozy gathering of friends, the reception has become a favorite event for year-rounders and regular visitors, with a delicious "best kept secret" and "Vineyard old days" vibe.

Unlike most shows and gallery exhibits, the Pequot is not juried; participants may exhibit whatever pieces they wish. The artist selection process is equally informal. Visitors to the show are sometimes inspired to submit their own work the following year. Current exhibitors often invite friends to take part. For example, Julian K. Robinson, a well-known Island nature photographer and one of the first Pequot exhibitors, invited Danielle Zerbonne to show some of her photos this year. Both are photographers for The Martha's Vineyard Times.

"We just put out the word," said Laura. "Anyone's welcome."

The exhibitor list has mushroomed since the early days, but several of the original founding artists still participate every year and say they wouldn't miss it. The group is an eclectic mixture of new artists and seasoned professionals who show at galleries on or off the Island.

Pequot Hotel
Guests thronged to the Pequot Hotel Saturday evening for the annual art show reception.

Guests on Saturday night were greeted by the sight of a comfortable lobby complete with a soft couch and chairs and a coffee table topped by a bowl of shiny red apples and a heaping (and sinfully bottomless) plate of chocolate chip cookies. Every wall, even in the rear hallway, was covered floor to ceiling with art. Colorful, varied, and eclectic, the work encompassed a number of mediums, including oils and watercolors, photography, prints, and more. There was even some bright and delicate jewelry by Rani Conner who joined the show as a painter when it began and now produces her own jewelry line.

Subject matter for the most part emphasized the local - landscapes, ocean scenes, lighthouses, gingerbread houses, docks, lobster pots, and beach roses, but with such a mixture of artists, every interpretation was distinctive. Styles ranged widely too, from abstract to realistic, whimsical and witty.

The profusion of familiar faces was as rich as the art itself and reception-goers made the most of the opportunity to reconnect with friends after the busy summer and for some after being away for months. As the evening swirled on, guests kept arriving, conversation flowed, and red "sold" dots sprouted on the walls. The party continued well after the closing hour, revelers at once amazed by the way this yearly event has grown and mindful of its impermanence, that in another few hours it would be gone, no more than a dream, until another October comes around.