The painting by the seasonal Vineyarder evokes the history of the once-populous Chilmark deaf community.

"The Lord is My Shepherd" by Thomas Hart Benton, hangs at the Whitney Museum in New York, and features Sabrina and George West, members of the Chilmark deaf community. – Photo by Gwyn McAllister; The Whitney Museum of American Art

The much-anticipated opening of the new Whitney Museum of American Art in lower Manhattan has attracted thousands of visitors to a large-scale show featuring many works from the museum’s permanent collection. Among these is a painting by Thomas Hart Benton called The Lord Is My Shepherd. Mr. Benton summered for 50 years on Martha’s Vineyard, and painted many scenes of the Island and the Vineyard community. The Lord Is My Shepherd is one of these. It depicts an elderly deaf couple, George and Sabrina West, who were friends of the painter and members of the Chilmark deaf community.

It seems Thomas Hart Benton chose local subjects for his painting to depict ideals central to the American Regionalism art movement. As noted in the Whitney Museum’s audio guide segment about the painting, “They [the deaf couple] become symbols of the old-fashioned rural values that Benton championed. The man and the woman stand for faith, hard work, temperance and endurance, the qualities that Benton believed were the cornerstones of the American way of life.”

During the 19th and early 20th century, there was a large population of deaf people who flourished on the Vineyard for years. The deaf community was centered in Chilmark, and more specifically Squibnocket. At one point, one in 25 children in Chilmark was born deaf, and one in four in Squibnocket.

The Chilmark deaf community is well known among scholars and institutions dedicated to the deaf, partly because of its role in the development of American Sign Language (ASL). The Chilmark residents developed their own form of sign language, known as Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language (MVSL), which later merged with mainland signs to form ASL.

Early settlers of Martha’s Vineyard carried the recessive gene for deafness with them from the Kentish Weald area in England. The deaf population thrived on the Vineyard into the 20th century, but eventually died out, as younger people started leaving to attend schools for the deaf off-Island, and the gene pool was further diluted by an influx of new families settling on the Island

On Saturday, May 23, writer Jack Schimmelman will present a talk about the Chilmark deaf community at the West Tisbury library. Mr. Schimmelman has done a great deal of research on the topic in the course of writing a folk opera based on Vineyard history.

This will be the third in a series of talks by Mr. Schimmelman, focusing on topics covered in the theater piece that he is developing along with composer Jesse Wiener. The opera, titled 1854, focuses on a number of issues of the time, including slavery and abolitionism, the roles of the Wampanoags, the African-American community, and the deaf inhabitants of Martha’s Vineyard. His previous talks focused on race and racial relations on the Vineyard.

In a phone interview with The Times, Mr. Schimmelman, who has lived on the Island for more than four decades, talked about his interest in the historical deaf community.

“The reason it really captured me was a feeling of the unique nature of the Vineyard community as a whole; the fact that this community was fully accepted as a component of the greater community. They were never looked on as being disabled. They were looked on as individuals. I’ve always felt that way about the Island. This has allowed me even further insight into what makes the community special,” said Mr. Schimmelman.

He continued, “A lot of people voluntarily learned sign language because they were working alongside one another. They were doing business together. They were fully integrated into the community.”

Mr. Schimmelman conducted a great deal of his research on the subject with the help of the staff of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. He found two interviews by oral historian Linsey Lee with descendants of members of the deaf community to be particularly helpful. He is basing all the characters in his opera on historical Island figures.

Mr. Schimmelman, who currently writes a blog for the Huffington Post, has created a number of multidiscipline pieces throughout a long career in theater in New York City. “I create basically performance pieces for ensemble,” he said. “My influence goes back to the Open Theater.” His folk opera 1854 will incorporate songs, choreography, and design. It is a site-specific piece, written to be performed at Oak Bluff’s Union Chapel. Mr. Schimmelman hopes to produce the piece for the first time this September, if he can raise the necessary funds.

While it is focused on a town meeting in which the issue of abolitionism is debated, a number of elements of the early years of European settlement on Martha’s Vineyard are incorporated into the piece, not the least of which is the presence of the deaf community, which the author sees as representative of the Island’s nature of acceptance and adaptability.

Discussion on the Martha’s Vineyard deaf community with Jack Schimmelman will take place on Saturday, May 23, at 1 pm at the West Tisbury library. Sign language teachers Elyse Bonnell and Lynn Thorp will also participate in the discussion. The event is free and open to the public.


A quarter century of artists supporting local services.

In this file photo, the 2013 opening-night gala drew a big crowd. –File photo by Gail Daman

For more than 25 years, the Friends of Family Planning Art Show and Sale has been a sure sign of spring. In late May, the exhibit fills the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury with compelling new work by a variety of local artists and artisans, who donate a percentage of their sales to help support Family Planning of Martha’s Vineyard.

Poster by Jack Yuen. –Art courtesy of Friends of Family Planning on Martha's Vineyard
Poster by Jack Yuen. –Art courtesy of Friends of Family Planning on Martha’s Vineyard

More than just a stylish collection of high-quality art, the annual event has long been an important source of income for the busy clinic. The traditional opening night gala allows Vineyarders to socialize with friends whom they might not have seen over the quiet winter months.

This year’s show runs Friday through Sunday, and will be bursting with compelling new creations. Enthusiastic organizers predict that the retooled wine and cheese benefit gala on Saturday night will draw more patrons than ever.

The show was launched more than a quarter-century ago to help support Family Planning’s services. It moved often, starting at Murdick’s Fudge in Vineyard Haven, then to Crispin’s Landing (now LeRoux), to Beadniks, and the Vineyard Playhouse. By the mid-1990s, the event settled into the Ag Hall, a welcoming venue offering extensive display space and parking. The gala was launched in the early years to increase the revenue by inviting guests to talk with artists and purchase art.

Jennifer Knight, Friends of Family Planning board president, said that shifting the annual party to Saturday evening from the usual Thursday will accommodate weekend visitors and locals who are not available on weeknights.

She said this year’s emphasis is on fundraising, and they hope to reach a $100,000 capital-campaign goal. The campaign, announced at the 2013 art show, seeks to raise funds to cover an $80,000 mortgage on the service’s State Road building, and establish a $20,000 maintenance account. About $25,000 remains to be raised.

“We’re getting there,” said Ms. Knight optimistically.

Board members handle every aspect of the event, enlisting artists, setting up the exhibit, planning and hosting the party, greeting visitors, and manning the sales and info desk all weekend.

“We have an extremely active and dedicated board,” commented member Noreen Baker. “The members really believe in the value the clinic has to our community.”

Ms. Baker, who counts herself as a satisfied client of the clinic, praised the caring services she has received there.

A highlight of the annual show is the poster, designed each year by a Regional High School student and chosen in a competition. Jack Yuen, an exceptionally talented student artist, created this year’s striking poster.

Some 100 local artists and artisans will fill the big hall with a breathtaking array of creations. Along with fine art, sculpture, and photography, jewelry, ceramics, textile art, and handmade furniture will be displayed.

New this year are unique pieces by versatile artist Jasmine Thompson and Jeanie Hay Sternbach’s healing crystal jewelry.

Founded in 1978, Family Planning of Martha’s Vineyard provides affordable and confidential reproductive health and family planning services, including screening for anemia, high blood pressure, and diabetes; gynecological exams; counseling and education; pregnancy, sexually transmitted infection (STI) and HIV testing; and birth control. Screening for HPV and hepatitis C is available. Vasectomies are available by referral; reimbursement is offered.

The comfortable clinic on State Road, Vineyard Haven, is supported primarily by federal and state funds through Health Imperatives, a regional umbrella organization. Funds raised by the Friends of Family Planning through the art show, party, and annual appeal pay for many important budget items. The facility serves both men and women, and minors can receive confidential care. Client appointments last as long as needed.

Family Planning offers a generous sliding scale, and free care for anyone who cannot pay; no one is turned away. Site director Brenda Grandizio said that thanks to recent funding from the state Department of Public Health, more generous fee discounts are offered. Insurance is also accepted.

Ms. Grandizio cited several new developments over the year enhancing the clinic’s services.

A new Tuesday-evening session has been added to the Wednesday and Thursday appointment schedule — convenient for patients who cannot come during the day. The clinic has shifted from paper to electronic medical recordkeeping.

A new Gardasil series, a preventive vaccine against HPV and genital warts, is being offered. Soon, a woman patient of the clinic will be able to receive colposcopy — a diagnostic procedure for patients with irregular Pap smears at risk for cervical cancer. The procedure will will be offered by staff Nurse Practitioner Marcy Holmes. Previously, patients traveled off-Island for this critical diagnostic step.

Ms. Grandizio stressed that staffers spend as much time with a patient as needed, and that high priority is placed on following up about concerns.

“We take our patient care really seriously,” said Ms. Grandizio. “We really care. It’s good work we’re doing.”
Friends of Family Planning Art Show and Sale, Ag Hall, West Tisbury. May 22, 23, 24. Free. Benefit party, Saturday, May 23, 6 to 8 pm, $50. For information or to purchase tickets, visit

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Comedian Lenny Clarke, shown at a 2011 Ice Savours auction, will perform at the Lampost on Sunday, May 24. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

Updated Wednesday May 20 at 10:50 am

Comedian Lenny Clarke was scheduled to perform a show at the Lampost in Oak Bluffs this Sunday, May 24. The show has been canceled.

Mr. Clarke, who is subject to movie making schedule changes, has plans for shows at the Lampost on the weekends of July 4 and Labor Day.

A crowd turned out for the 2013 Art Show. – MV Times File Photo

An Island tradition, the 26th annual Friends of Family Planning (FFP) Art Show takes place Memorial Day weekend at the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury. Featuring work from Island artists who donate a portion, or all, of their sales to the organization, the show has grown over the years to become a highly anticipated event and one of the biggest art shows on the Island.

The art show serves as FFP’s only major fundraising event, and is the primary resource that enables the organization to help the clinic provide much-needed services to our community.

According to its website, the Family Planning Clinic of Martha’s Vineyard opened its doors in 1978, providing reproductive health care services to women. “Since then, thanks to an incredible staff and support from Friends of Family Planning and the Island community, our Family Planning Clinic has experienced phenomenal growth, and now offers a wide range of clinical, educational, and advocacy programs for both women and men. Among the services we offer are STD screenings, morning-after pills, and a vasectomy reimbursement program.”

The free art show runs from 10 am to 6 pm Friday, May 22, through Sunday, May 24. The wine and cheese fundraiser party is Saturday evening, May 23, from 6 to 8 pm. Tickets for the adults-only party are $50 per person, with proceeds benefiting Friends of Family Planning.

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M.V. Wine Fest brings wine lovers together for the third year in a row.

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Updated Thursday May 14

It was about five years ago when I met John Clift, Martha’s Vineyard Wine Festival founder and director; at the time he was working as the “wine guy” at Atria in Edgartown. I had just arrived on the Island and knew not a soul, so naturally I dove headfirst into volunteering at food-oriented events — the California Wine Affair being the first of many.

I first met John there, and he was a force to be reckoned with — his knowledge of wine was superb, and he always had the ideal recommendation on food and wine pairing. Fast-forward to three years ago, when John and Angela Vezzose, who was also at Atria at the time, decided to come together in their knowledge; John with his love of wine and Angela with her love of hospitality and service. They joined forces to form what is today known as the Martha’s Vineyard Wine Fest, a celebration of wine that takes place the second weekend of May every year.

John and Angela collaborated with other known suspects in the industry: Nathan Briggs, bartender extraordinaire; Melissa Vincent, the hostess with the mostest; and myself, a line cook turned food blogger turned social media manager. Together, we’re in our third year of this grand festival, and we look forward to many more.

“It’s the perfect time of the year to showcase wines, spirits, and Martha’s Vineyard’s talented chefs and incredible artisans to old and new visitors to this magical Island,” said Angela Vezzose.

Last weekend was a gathering of chefs, winemakers, beer brewers, cheesemakers, and national brands — across private home dinners, in-restaurant events, and a Grand Tasting unlike any other — that proved once again that the Martha’s Vineyard Wine Fest has become a season-opener event for the Island.

The festival kicked off with the rosé reception at the Harbor View Hotel, where some of the best Provence rosé, Chateau D’Esclans Whispering Angel, was poured. The Harbor View’s executive chef Caleb Lara and his team showcased a variety of hot passed appetizers as well as a gorgeous selection of charcuterie and fresh cheeses.

Several private-home wine dinners took place across Edgartown and Chappaquiddick, starting with the Frog’s Leap Winery dinner hosted by Howard Imber of the winery and featuring cuisine by John Thurgood, sous-chef at Chilmark Tavern. The menu featured local ingredients, including Island watercress, veal from Grey Barn Farm, and even Chilmark mint.

On the porch of Chesca’s in Edgartown, the popular Real Men Drink Pink rosé tasting gave guests the opportunity to sample more than 10 rosé wines with commentary by Amy Cronin from Drync, the app that allows you to buy wine with just one snap of your phone camera.
For the beer lovers, the Great Beer Challenge was a fantastic event at Isola where attendees had a chance to taste nine beers from Harpoon Brewery, Brooklyn Brewery, and Peak Organic Brewing. After the tasting, Brooklyn Brewery was recognized as the winner for their Summer Ale.

Last Saturday’s lively Grand Tasting event, held on the grounds of the Kelley House, was the highlight of the weekend. Samples were poured from more than 500 wineries across the globe, and delectable bites from local vendors satisfied every palate. It was the perfect spring day for a tasting, and the community support shown by local Island businesses cannot be overlooked. Détente, the Atlantic, Grey Barn Farms, the Newes, Lure Fish, Athea Designs, Chilmark Coffee, and Not Your Sugar Mamas were just some of the vendors that contributed to the event’s success.

“I loved the smile on the vendors’ faces when they left the Grand Tasting tent, as well as the feeling of a full Island! The hospitality business this past weekend was booming, and the local small businesses did not go unnoticed by our attendees,” said Sarah Webber, a committee member for the festival.

The weekend concluded with a private closing reception that thanked everyone involved in the festival, where guests enjoyed Island Creek Oysters and Moet & Chandon Champagne; because that’s the only real way to celebrate on the Vineyard, don’t you agree?

It was an event enjoyed by all, and while we’re sad to have it behind us, we’re already looking forward and thinking about ways to make it even better in 2016. Cheers to a new season.



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Updated Thursday May 13

Approximately 175 guests gathered at the Chilmark Community Center on Saturday night to raise money for the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, a nonprofit organization that seeks to preserve and expand the Island’s shellfisheries.

During the first part of the evening, guests tasted chowders prepared by Island chefs and restaurants, then voted for their favorites. The Beach Plum Inn won first place, by only one vote, for its wheat-free chowder, made with fennel, caraway, and spring onion. A close second place went to the Home Port for its chowder, featuring Menemsha local seafood, and third place went to Herring Run Kitchens for its scallop, leek, and clam chowder. Lucky Hank’s restaurant in Edgartown also competed.

Amandine Surier Hall, hatchery manager and fundraising coordinator for the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, said in an email to The Times, “Regardless of who won, it’s a great win for Menemsha and the owners [Bob and Sarah Nixon] of the Beach Plum/Home Port group. They are amazing supporters of us, and we are very grateful for their participation.”

Guests also enjoyed 1,000 shellfish from the one-dollar raw bar organized by Beau Begin at Vineyard Sound Raw Bars. Scott Castro from Bluemoon Oysters, Jack and Sue Blake from Sweet Neck Farm, Roy Scheffer from Roysters, Jeremy Scheffer from Spear Point Oysters, and Tim Broderick at Chilmark Oyster Farm donated seafood for the event.

The fundraiser also featured a wide selection of silent auction items from local businesses, including a popular Quahog Safari Bundle with a clam basket from Dick’s Bait & Tackle, a clam rake from Larry’s Tackle Shop, and a clamming charter for up to six people with Paul Bagnall, Edgartown shellfish constable.

Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish provided musical entertainment for the evening, and many guests took advantage of the spacious dance floor.

While the final amount raised from the evening was not yet available, Ms. Hall estimates that the group will receive $12,000 from the event. For more information about the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, visit


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If you’ve been to Edgartown this weekend you can’t miss the festive pink and green decorations gracing the streets, local businesses and even the dogs. The fourth annual Pink & Green Weekend sponsored by the  Edgartown Board of Trade is in full effect, featuring activities, specials, and spectacles for people (and pooches!) of all ages. On Saturday the annual Pink & Green dog parade brought out canines in costume, including a pitbull in a tutu.

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The fourth annual festival takes over Edgartown.

From left, at the 2013 Pink and Green Ball: Lee and Cheryl Welch, and John, Birgitta, and Elora Parker. This year's ball is on Saturday, May 10.

The colors of spring will be blooming in more than just flower beds this weekend, as the Edgartown Board of Trade hosts the fourth annual Pink & Green Weekend. The festive event, which will take over the town from Thursday through Sunday, will feature activities, specials, and spectacles for people of all ages, and serves as a celebration of spring and Mother’s Day.

“Pink & Green Weekend is Edgartown Board of Trade’s way of shaking off the gray of winter and getting Islanders, visitors, and business owners ready for a great spring and summer season,” says committee chair Sydney Mullen.

The festivities commenced with the decorating of the Edgartown lighthouse. Draped in pink and green streamers, the Edgartown landmark is looking as fresh and festive as a spring bouquet.

Tying in with the Martha’s Vineyard Wine Fest, which is also happening across Edgartown this weekend, the Pink & Green festival will kick off on Thursday, May 7, with a Rosé Reception at the Harbor View Hotel. There will be ample opportunities all weekend long to sip on theme-colored spirits at locations throughout town. On Friday, Chesca’s will host the Martha’s Vineyard Wine Fest’s “Real Men Drink Pink” tasting, and a weekend-long pub crawl will give visitors a chance to sample some creative cocktails specially concocted for the event. Many of Edgartown’s restaurants and pubs, including Alchemy, Among the Flowers, the Atlantic, The Dunes, Henry’s, Isola, Lucky Hank’s, the Newes, the Grill on Main, Sharky’s, the Terrace, Water Street, and the Wharf, will participate.

The Harbor View created a raspberry macaroon with basil chocolate ganache for a previous Pink and Green event. – Photo courtesy of Harbor View Hotel
The Harbor View created a raspberry macaroon with basil chocolate ganache for a previous Pink and Green event. – Photo courtesy of Harbor View Hotel

There will also be plenty of family-friendly activities as well. Donaroma’s — famous for putting on a spectacular show — is sure to dazzle again this year with their Cirque du Pink and Green on Friday, May 8, from 4 to 6pm. You can always count on the Donaroma’s team to combine decorations, activities, refreshments, and, of course, bounties of spring flora, for a full-on multisensory experience. Mariko Kawaguchi of Donaroma’s promises lots of kids’ activities, a raffle, refreshments, a ringmaster, and assorted critters. Janice Donaroma is credited with initiating the pink and green Mother’s Day theme, which was eventually adopted and expanded by the Board of Trade.

“It’s our busiest season,” says Ms. Kawaguchi. “Everybody’s got a mom. Mothers always like to watch things grow. There’s nothing like gifting Mom with a living thing.” If you can’t make it to the party on Friday, stop by anytime over the weekend, when the spring splendor will still be on display.

Other fun activities for kids include an herb-pot decorating party at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum on Saturday morning, a family open house with refreshments at the Edgartown National Bank on Saturday, and a Baby Buggy Parade on Sunday morning at 9:45 am, where kids are invited to decorate their bikes, wagons, or strollers and parade from the mini-park to the village green.

Pooches too can dress to impress. Lighthouse Properties will sponsor a Pink & Green Dog Show on Saturday from noon to 1 pm, starting at the mini-park in downtown Edgartown. Not just for poodles: Even a pit bull can pull off a pink tutu for the day.

Pink and Green weekend celebrates spring and Mother's Day in Edgartown. – MV Times File Photo
Pink and Green weekend celebrates spring and Mother’s Day in Edgartown. – MV Times File Photo

On Saturday night from 7 to 11, relive your high school memories at the Harbor View Hotel, the setting for the first annual Pink & Green Prom. Fashion competition encouraged, as there will be a crowning of the Prom King and Queen. Photographer David Welch will be on hand to capture those special prom memories with the help of a photo booth, and guests will be able to show off their dancing skills to the tunes of DJ Rockwell. The party will continue after the prom at the Atlantic.

On Sunday, there’ll be plenty of spots to take Mom out to brunch. Harbor View will host a grand Mother’s Day brunch, where the winners of the Mom of the Year essay contest will be announced. Other restaurants offering special Mother’s Day brunches as part of Pink & Green include Lucky Hanks, Among the Flowers, Détente (offering a Martha’s Vineyard Wine Fest Bloody Mary Brunch), the Terrace at the Charlotte Inn and the Dunes at the Winnetu, which will include music, a rose for Mom and special activities for kids. We all know the best mom’s gift ever is a relaxing meal with a break from the kids. (Other restaurants on-Island offering Mother’s Day brunches are Lola’s, Slice of Life, and Farm Neck, and Art Cliff will reopen too!)

Throughout the weekend, you can take advantage of lots of special sales and grab complimentary snacks (like Murdick’s Fudge) at a variety of local businesses. A number of Edgartown realtors will also be hosting open houses.

“The Edgartown Board of Trade is committed to helping businesses extend the shoulder season,” says Ms. Mullen, “And this is a colorful and festive way to do it.”


For a complete listing of Pink & Green Weekend events, visit


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Children took advantage of an obstacle course and various other games at this year's event. – Photo courtesy the YMCA of MV

On Saturday, May 2, more than 400 Island kids and families tested all things fun and healthy at the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard fifth annual Healthy Kids Day.

The day was all-inclusive and free, provided at no cost thanks to the Y for All Financial Assistance and Community Outreach Program, supported by Y donors and volunteers.

Kids and families were encouraged to try everything healthy, and were provided with a passbook with the incentive of collecting stamps at each activity, a goodie bag to take home, and a T-shirt to tie-dye. They hopped, crawled, and ran around, from the obstacle course with Y health and wellness trainers to the Wee Ones obstacle course in Y Child Watch, carnival games with pushups, jumping rope and medicine-ball tossing with Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Island Wide Youth Collaborative, paddleboard balancing with Island Spirit Kayak, farm-animal petting with the Farm at Lotus Pond and the Farm Institute, gardening and potting activities with Island Grown Schools, healthy food activities with the Y Café, block printing with Althea Designs, dancing with The Yard and Rise, tie-dye with the Y Camp Terra Mare, Gaga Pit games, bounce house, face painting, chalk and community murals, clown parade, and Sharky Mascot fun. The day was fun-filled and healthy all around.

Kids who attended gave it a big thumbs up, and could be heard shouting “This is the best day ever!”

Every year, Healthy Kids Day at the Y aims to get more kids moving and learning, so they can keep up the habit all summer long — a critical out-of-school time for kids’ health. When kids are out of school, they can face hurdles — or gaps — that prevent them from reaching their full potential, related to hunger, water safety, learning, safe spaces to play, and health. Each year, the Y helps our Island youth “hop the gap” and achieve more, providing a safe place to learn, stay healthy, and build friendships.

“The Y is so much more than sports, swimming, gymnastics, and a place for kids to hang out. We support families in their efforts to instill healthy habits at home,” said Jill Robie Axtell, executive director of the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard. “We know that it can sometimes feel like a challenge. So at Healthy Kids Day, we encourage kids to stay physically and intellectually active all summer long, and give families tips they can easily replicate at home. It’s free and open to the community!”

In celebration of YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, the Y shared the following tips to help families develop healthy habits:

  • Try, try, repeat: There are many great-tasting fruits and vegetables that many kids have never heard of, let alone tried. Grab a new fruit or vegetable and encourage everyone in the family to try at least a bite.
  • Play around town: Challenge the family to play on a different playground every week. Identify playgrounds at a variety of parks; expand definitions of playgrounds to include nature trails, a nearby stream, and a bike path.
  • Families at play for an hour a day: From walking to gardening, or swimming to shooting hoops, make playful movement a part of your family’s day. To get 60 minutes of moderate activity throughout your day just add 10 minutes here and 15 minutes there.
  • Foster a passion for reading: Read to and with your kids. Help children read at every age and every stage of their development.
  • Make sleep a priority: Doctors recommend 10 to 12 hours of sleep a day for children ages 5 to 12 and 7 to 8 hours per night for adults. Sleep plays a critical role in maintaining our healthy immune system, metabolism, mood, memory, learning, and other vital functions.


The Pathways team celebrates another season at the Chilmark Tavern. – Photo courtesy Pathways

The latest season of Pathways Living Room Studios wrapped up this past Saturday night, with a celebration of artists, writers, musicians, and performers for their innovative projects in the arts across the Island. Throughout the fifth annual Honoraria awards evening, musicians, artists, and writers, including Mait Edey, George Davis, Claudia Taylor, David Stanwood, Roberta Kirn, Sian Williams, Annette Sandrock, Matt Stamas, and Nikki Patton presented selected original music, songwriting, and poetry, with celebratory community support. Tony Tobia introduced his new music compositions, performed by pianist Adele Dreyer, baritone saxophonist Steve Tully, and violinist Atzic Marquez.

The event also honored Island organizations for their innovation in the arts, including Featherstone for its work on poetry programming for the Pathways/Featherstone/Noepe Summer Festival of Poetry; The Yard’s David White, for choreography residencies, and Jesse Keller, for children’s dance; Noepe Literary Center for development of new writing programs; Film Truth Productions’ Liz Witham and Ken Wentworth for a new film project in the arts and climate regeneration; and Martha’s Vineyard Sound’s Phil DaRosa for designing the 2015 summer music festival.

Individual visual artists who were honored with creative time to develop new artworks include Walker T. Roman for painting; Heather Goff for digital drawings, Ronni Simon for sea-glass sculpture; Paul Lazes for his photography project, Powerful Women of MV; Valerie Sonnenthal for her oceans photography – both underwater and wilderness; Laura Roosevelt for arts writing and photography; and William Waterway for his oceans photography.

Performing artists honored with support for time to create new music and/or dance include Tony Tobia for performance of new music compositions; Phil DaRosa for music and songwriting; Joe Keenan for sea songs; Kim Hilliard for songwriting; and Martha Eddy for global water dances.

Writers honored with support for creative time for new poetry, writing, and spoken words include Susan Puciul for poetry; Sian Williams for novel writing; Holly Nadler for writing on the arts, performance, and culture on Martha’s Vineyard; Annette Sandrock for travel poetry; and Claudia Taylor for a new poetry manuscript, text, and design.

The event also honored a handful of off-Island or New York–based arts organizations that include Trisha Brown, with support for reconstruction and repertory; Godfrey Muwulya, with support for choreography and drumming classes for African children; and Elaine Summers Dance & Film Company, with support for dance and multimedia.

In her welcome talk for the awards presentation, Pathways artistic director and founder Marianne Goldberg shared her vision for the annual honoraria: “This year we have again invited over 25 artists, writers, and organizations to accept the challenge and encouragement of a Pathways honoraria — to forge time to conceive and build new work. Projects in poetry, spoken word, and writing; projects in visual arts, from painting to photography to digital forms; and projects in performing arts, from music composition to songwriting to dance, are each awarded for the potential for individuals or collaborative teams to reach beyond what we have accomplished before. To start again, with what we call a seed project, the very beginnings of the desire to build from perhaps tender or raw ideas in dream form, is to realize the as yet unknown. It is exactly this initial unknowing which I consider at the heart of forging creative time. For if we already know how a question of discovery or inquiry will turn out, then we will have missed the most important process — the artistic expedition, a rocky, and sometimes precarious, yet exhilarating journey and time of immersion and flow.”

Works created with Pathways project’s support will be shared with the community at Pathways Gathering Space next season, and across the Island year-round. Arts programs supported at sister organizations are presented through their home venues.