By Julian Wise
The 2008 ESH calendar finds artist Eric Hawkes asserting mastery over his signature black-and-white style. For years, Islanders have seen his playful two-tone images on theater posters and merchandise at the Beetlebung Cafe. With the 2008 calendar, his images take on a boldness that suggests the artist has fully arrived in this quirky genre.
Throughout the calendar, Mr. Hawkes offers a dry local perspective on Vineyard life. The cover depicts an image of the Island composed of bumper-to-bumper vehicles, a droll commentary on summer traffic. January's image is a commentary on human-feline relations, with the human asking, "Good morning...are you here to express your love?" and the cat thinking, "No. I'm hungry...but you can believe anything you want." February displays a retina-blitzing image of a beach house that makes black dots emerge and vanish from the white spaces. March features a four-panel comic strip, while May and August include the familiar theme of the female as a beautiful young sophisticate. June shows the ferry boat spitting out cars with a "PTU" sound while September shows a young girl asking "Hey...where did everybody go?" as the ferry spits the cars back to the mainland. July shows an exuberant nude woman at Lucy Vincent beach whose privates are hastily covered by a dowdy older couple. The small sketches in the calendar's margins range from rough outtakes to a razor-sharp image of a raptor in the March page.
Word has it that Mr. Hawkes is contemplating a move to the mainland in 2008. This calendar should prompt a "Say it ain't so, Joe" response, as the loss of this artist will remove a vital thread from the Island's artistic core. Let's hope that in 2009, Islanders still have these whimsical and ironic images to keep them company for another year.
The ESH calendar is available at Island Entertainment, State Road, Vineyard Haven. $15.
By Anna Marie D'Addarie
The MikWright greeting card display is the source of non-stop laughter at Bowl and Board in Vineyard Haven. Customers spend a great deal of time passing the cards around and saying, "You've got to read this." The name MikWright may not be as familiar as Hallmark, but this company's line of family snapshots with witty, irreverent captions has made a big splash in the industry. So it's no surprise that their 2008 calendar called MikWright Living is not merely a parody of Martha Stewart's Living, but rather a knock-out punch.
The calendar promises "Simple solutions to complicate your life." The calendar's cover promises "chapters" on Potluck nightmares, one reader's 3-bean salad tragedy; Drop 20 pounds quick with our new under-cooked meat diet; Restock your liquor cabinet for free; and Seven re-gifting rules made easy (a must for January). You won't find all the "chapters" in the calendar, but that's okay. There's plenty here to catch the eye and tickle the funny bone. Some bogus daily reminders are already penciled in for you and when placed near the real ones (in a different color to avoid confusion) they all seem funny. For example in the month of October, we are reminded to buy tickets for the musical "Wicked," and have our warts removed. The Halloween pumpkin and the woman pictured have the same smile. We are also reminded in October to make our New Year's Eve plans.
This calendar is definitely not for children, or, as Ricky Ricardo would say, you'll have a lot of 'splain' to do. But if you are looking for laughs to last through the year, this calendar is for you.
MikWright Living 2008, MildWright, Ltd, 2007, $13.99. The calendar is available at Bowl and Board, Main Street, Vineyard Haven.
By Eleni Collins
A quick glance at one's dorm room décor can tell a lot about a person, especially at a time of critical first impressions. The afternoon I moved into my forced-triple occupancy dorm room, first semester of freshman year of college, along with making my bed and organizing my toiletries, my mother hung the 2002 Peter Simon calendar on my wall. As my floormates wandered in to say hello, it became a conversation piece as they looked through the pages, exclaiming their astonishment at how beautiful my hometown was.
When January came around and I put up the 2003 Peter Simon calendar, I felt so attached to the previous year's pictures that I couldn't throw it away. As I looked around my third of the room, the walls covered in pictures new and old, I had an idea: Use the calendar as wallpaper! I cut out each photograph and began a border around my room. Mr. Simon's photographs of the New Year's fireworks in Vineyard Haven, dawn rising at Chilmark Pond, and the Edgartown waterfront lined my walls, and soon I had a lot of "friends" who wanted to come to visit me on the Island.
In his 20th year of producing calendars, Mr. Simon's monthly photo choices are still new and exquisite. Despite the small size of the Island, Mr. Simon finds new light, texture, weather, vantage points, and people to focus on.
This year's classic Menemsha sunset scene is brightened as he captured the sun centered behind a line of rope. If you frequent Moshup Beach, you may find yourself on the July page, walking the beach or body boarding. And the scene most are familiar with, The Flying Horses, this year is seen through snow flurries, and illuminated with a variety of light: lamppost, street, and holiday.
Well-known Island personalities such as Holly Nadler, Perry Garfinkel, Julia Wells, and Walter Cronkite elaborate the pages in verse and comment, and high tide in Vineyard Haven is noted daily. The calendar also highlights new and old memorable events: On March 3, 2007, the Island Home went into service. On Sept. 5, 1916, the first telephone cable connected M.V. and Nantucket.
With its stunning photographs and bits of information, the calendar makes the perfect present for Islander, seasonal visitor, or the person you have been trying to convince to come visit for years. And if it works, you'll have the great pleasure of taking them on an Island tour to all the fabulous places found in the calendar.
The Vineyard Calendar 2008, By Peter Simon, Simon Press. $18.50. Available at Island bookstores, by calling 508-645-2470, or at petersimon.com.
By Anna Marie D'Addarie
If you are a Susan Branch fan, extolling the many virtues of her 2008 calendar, "Seasons From the Heart of the Home," is like preaching to the choir. You probably already have this lovely calendar hanging in your home just underneath your well-worn 2007 calendar, and it's waiting to spring into life on the first of January.
Ms. Branch is one of our favorite people here on Martha's Vineyard. She has a way of illustrating our Island that is pretty, playful, sweet, and filled with affection as only someone who really loves this place could do. Her calendar isn't a Martha's Vineyard calendar per se, but it is filled with Island-inspired gems just waiting to be discovered as the days go by.
April is devoted to "Here Comes Summer" with gentle reminders that "you're going to want to take that robe off." Her illustration of a young woman on the beach, looking out to sea, her long red hair in a braid down her back, straw hat on her head, is that relaxing time we all crave, and the reason we love to live on Martha's Vineyard. But she peppers her take-care-of-yourself advice with just enough humor so she doesn't come off preachy. She adds a quote by Bob Thaves, "Inside me there's a thin person struggling to get out, but I can usually sedate him with four or five cupcakes."
In June, Ms. Branch talks about a summer garden on Martha's Vineyard and remembers the people who planted and cared for the gardens, "leaving their corner of the world far better than they found it."
For a year's worth of beauty, lots of inspiration, and even the address of the White House because, "phone calls are good, but a letter is forever," you can't miss with "Seasons From the Heart of the Home."
Susan Branch 2008 Calendar, "Seasons From the Heart of the Home," The Time Factory, 2007. $12.99. Available in Island bookstores.
By Pat Waring
Not every calendar can burst on the scene and immediately become an instant favorite and its publication a much-anticipated annual event. But with a name like "Vineyard Seadogs," it is little wonder that Lisa Vanderhoop's year's worth of salty pooches has done just that. Her first calendar for 2007 captivated a large audience of dog lovers, ocean lovers, and Vineyard lovers. Her 2008 collection of canine portraits follows up with a marvelous group of four-footed Islanders, from noble and stately to cuddly and mischievous. Again, Ms. Vanderhoop does not use professional models or staged scenes. These are regular Vineyard mutts or purebreds, pups and grown-ups, hanging out in their favorite haunts along the shore, just like their owners do.
A gaggle of yellow puppies grace the cover, tumbling on the beach. To sweeten the mix, the calendar includes a group of some two-dozen additional candids, and one or two small photos on each page, shots of local dogs too good to leave out.
We meet the 12 featured stars of the month. There is Feather, the gleaming golden in Lucy Vincent sunshine; Totopuff, a ball of white dog fur, perches on a hill above Menemsha. The canine salts are back too, a group of dogs hanging out along Menemsha's Squid Row like fishermen dreaming of the big catch. A matched pair of white West Highland terriers tussles with a stick at Philbin Beach. Amos the Weimaraner is downright regal as he stands amidst ocean foam. There are even dogs who wear their hearts on their fur. And many of these photos illustrate the close bond between dog and master as they work or play together.
Some dogs swim, like Noreen Baker's golden retriever Winslow, Magoo the Dalmatian, and Sanford, the Olde English bulldog, who swims near the site of "Jaws" filming with a toy shark in his mouth. But then there's Bear whose sport of choice is sail-boarding!
And some dogs work hard, like the foursome shown helping their angler owners, and Lynn Murphy's cairn terrier Teddy out hauling moorings with his master.
Sometimes princes, sometimes clowns, often mischievous, but always loving, dogs are indeed our best friends. "Vineyard Seadogs" gives us a chance to appreciate them, every month of the year. Each month bears a philosophical saying, and November's carries the calendar's message best: "No one appreciates the special genius of your conversation as much as a dog...especially a seadog."
"Vineyard Seadogs," Lisa Vanderhoop, Onset Bay Printers, Pocasset. 2007. $16. Available at Island bookstores and other locations, online at email@example.com, or call 508-645-3201.
By Pat Waring
Four curious-faced barn owls, big-eyed and fuzzy, stare out from the cover of the 2008 Wildlife on Martha's Vineyard Calendar. The photo taken at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary by Nancy Rogers welcomes us to a year filled with Island creatures. Their surroundings, from fields to woodlands to beaches will inspire many of us to get out and start exploring, a great inspiration to have as the New Year dawns.
For this 2008 calendar, six local nature photographers have captured our wild neighbors in their favorite haunts. A river otter splashes happily in a Chappaquiddick pond; a screech owl snuggles in a rough-barked tree; a little frog gazes up at the lens from a tangle of green grasses in Edgartown. A shorebird snatches a crab from the waves and a thrush, all the way up
in Aquinnah, perches on a delicate branch, ready to burst into song. Next December's page has a perfect holiday look with its festive portrait of a gray catbird surrounded by prickly evergreen branches and bright red berries.
This is the fifth edition of the lovely and colorful little calendar, which Penny Uhlendorf produces through her business, "The Conservatree," donating net proceeds to benefit Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary. The calendar is printed on recycled paper, Ms. Uhlendorf assures us, "for the love of trees."
Contributing photographers include Skip Bettencourt, Bill Ewart Jr., Times "Birds" columnist E. Vernon Laux, Lanny McDowell, Julian K. Robinson, whose nature photographs and poems appear in The Times, and Nancy Rogers.u
The Wildlife on Martha's Vineyard Calendar, The Conservatree, 2007. $12. Available at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, Alley's, Chilmark Chocolates, Conroy Apothecary, Off Main (Vineyard Haven), Cronig's Market and Healthy Additions, Morning Glory Farm, Patti Linn Salon (West Tisbury), and the Vineyard Holiday Shop at Pyewacket's.