A & E

Amanda Ruzza performs at Union Chapel on Friday. Photo courtesy Sheila Baptista.

The fifth annual Martha’s Vineyard Jazz and Blues Summerfest, a two-day musical event presented by Lewis and Kirk Productions, is this Friday and Saturday, August 29 and 30.

Sage performs Saturday at the Old Whaling Church.

Sage performs Saturday at the Old Whaling Church. Photo courtesy of Sheila Baptista. —

The line-up for Friday’s events, held at Union Chapel, includes Andrea and James Rohlehr and the AndJam Band, Amanda Ruzza, The Berklee Rainbow All-Stars directed by Tia Fuller, and Acute Inflections. On Saturday at the Old Whaling Church, see Sage, an all-women’s jazz and blues ensemble; and Jazzmeia Horn.

Both nights begin at 7 pm, and tickets start at $35, VIP seats start at $75. A portion of the proceeds from Summerfest will also benefit regional breast cancer networks and other local organizations that assist women who are receiving cancer treatments, according to a press release. For more information, visit mvjazzbluessummerfest.com; for tickets, visit ticketsmv.com or call 914-363-9299 ext. 384.

Aparna Ramaswamy of the Ragamala Dance Company performed at The Yard last weekend. Photo by Sally Cohn

Like a Hindu goddess come to life, Aparna Ramaswamy of the Ragamala Dance Company enchanted a sold-out house at The Yard this past Saturday night. In two weekend performances, the master of Bharatanatyam dance presented four intricate dances each with a different theme — the Divine Feminine, the Ganges River, a love poem, and a celebration of life.

Dressed in traditional costume comprising a sort of sari/pants/pleated skirt combination, with a jeweled headdress, belled ankle cuffs, and eyes made up in an exaggerated cat eye style, Ms. Ramaswamy expertly combined a series of statuesque poses with fluid dance moves and mimed actions. Accompanied by a singer, a chanter, and two musicians (all female), the accomplished dancer utilized every part of her body — from her eyes, head, and neck to her very supple fingers — to achieve a program that was in equal parts a spectacular display of dance and a very moving and spiritual experience.

Ms. Ramaswamy, along with her mother and co-choreographer Ranee, her musical accompanists, and a small troupe of dancers were in residency at The Yard in Chilmark for two weeks before presenting their work Sannidhi (Sacred Space) to the public on Thursday and Saturday nights.

Aparna Ramaswamy.

Aparna Ramaswamy. Photo by Sally Cohn — Sally Cohn

The Minneapolis based Ragamala Dance Company was founded by Ranee Ramaswamy in 1992. The mother and daughter are co-artistic directors and choreographers. Their work has been performed at venues all over the world and they have received commissions from a number of prestigious organizations including, most recently, Lincoln Center Out of Doors.

The New York Times gave a rave review to that performance of Ragamala’s Song of the Jasmine, which featured five dancers in a music/dance collaboration, calling it, “a soulful, imaginative and rhythmically contagious collaboration with the superb jazz composer and alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa.”

Bharatanatyam is a classical form of Indian dance that dates back to ancient times when it was performed as a form of devotion to the gods in the Hindu temples. Since enjoying a revival in the 19th and 20th centuries, Bharatanatyam has become very popular throughout India and elsewhere. The music — called Carnatic music — is an integral part of the dance. As the younger Ms. Ramaswamy explained in a Q&A after Saturday evening’s performance, the Ragamala musicians work very closely with the choreography team in creating the dances. Bharatanatyam is said to be the embodiment of music in visual form.

The musicians, who also performed an intro and an interlude unaccompanied by dance, were fascinating to watch. Sitting on the floor to the side of the stage, along with Ranee who at times read from classical Indian poetry and chanted, were vocalist Ramya Sunderesan Kapadia and sisters Anjna (violin) and Rajna (percussion) Swaminathan. Both highly skilled, the sisters improvised a good deal, demonstrating both their prowess and the level of connectedness they have attained in the years spent performing together.

Ms. Ramaswamy stressed the amount of training that each of the members has gone through. Although the younger troupe members, including Aparna, were born in the U.S., they have all spent years studying under masters in India.

“Each of us comes from a very well known, well respected teacher in India,” said Ms. Ramaswamy. She and her mother both studied under one of the world’s greatest living Bharatanatyam dancers.

However, as Ms. Ramaswamy explained to the Saturday audience in a knowledgeable and articulate manner, the Ragamala dancer’s work is very much a product of the member’s experience living in this country as well as their roots in India.

According to the Ragamala website (ragamaladance.org), “We draw from the myth and spirituality of our South Indian heritage to make dance landscapes that dwell in opposition — secular and spiritual life, inner and outer worlds, human and natural concerns, rhythm and stillness — to find the transcendence that lies in between. Together we craft every moment to create intricate and complex worlds that convey a sense of reverence, of unfolding mystery, of universal celebration.”

The quartet of dances enjoyed by Yard audiences last weekend were both aesthetically pleasing and emotionally gratifying. There was something mesmerizing about watching the fluid movements and marveling at Ms. Ramaswamy’s grace and strength that provided a soothing, meditative experience. Although the lyrics would have been unintelligible to most Western audiences, the poems were read by Ranee in English and the stories and themes of each dance were obvious. In particular, the dance that dealt with the relationship that Indians enjoy with the sacred river, the Ganges, was very literate and beautiful as Ms. Ramaswamy used her expressive hand movements and postures to full effect.

Both informative and exhilarating to watch, the Ragamala performances were a great example of the spectrum of dance that The Yard brings to Vineyard audiences every summer.

“This summer we’ve had an overarching theme of artists who have clearly dedicated themselves to the past but are not trapped by the past,” said David White, in his introduction to Saturday’s performance.

After the performance, Mr. White said that he hopes to have a continuing relationship with the Ragamala dance troupe.

"Fly," a mixed media on Luan Panel by Cindy Kane.

Using public spaces for art has become a significant and productive source for Island exhibitions since Martha’s Vineyard Hospital established its permanent collection by Island artists. Both the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center and the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse also utilize their lobbies effectively for temporary exhibits. Opening Saturday, August 23, is a M.V. Playhouse exhibit of work by Vineyard Haven artist Cindy Kane.

Great snowy owls visited the Vineyard in unprecedented numbers this past winter, and Ms. Kane has used the opportunity to capture these majestic raptors on canvas in “Wing to Wing,” her new exhibit at the Playhouse. She employs a muted palette for the graffiti-like gray background against which the owls’ white feathers provide a stunning contrast.

She sighted Great Snowy owls, which are not nocturnal, three times over the winter, once at West Chop and twice at Katama Airfield. “Each time you’re totally surprised,” Ms. Kane said. “This winter, we were all about that.” She was also inspired by the bird images of Vineyard photographer Sarah Mayhew. In order to avoid copyright infringement, Ms. Kane ended up destroying the owl painting she based on one of Ms. Mayhew’s bird photos. That led her to re-conceptualize her owl portraits, refining some of them into portraits of an owl’s solitary wing. It became a central motif. “I’m very grateful,” she said, “because it [the copyright issue] led to wing paintings that are very provocative.”

Bird photographers such as Ms. Mayhew spend hours in the wilderness, often under wet and snowy conditions, to get the perfect shot. “They have the utmost in patience and stamina,” Ms. Kane said. In some of Ms. Kane’s owl portraits, the graffiti-like background that she has returned to over and over in her work has evolved into a more elegant scribble, what she describes as “Cy Twombly-esque.” The late, celebrated painter was known for his calligraphy style paintings.

Birds have long provided inspiration to Ms. Kane, and she will include early works that incorporate them in her paintings, including “Veil,” which features a red-headed flicker, and “Safta’s Quilt” that depicts a grid of handkerchiefs belonging to her mother-in-law on which the artist has painted parrots and other birds. In addition, less expensive work from her magazine-cover series will be on display only on the night of the opening reception.

“It’s really nice to show in a public building,” Ms. Kane said. “I’m intrigued by the art in public spaces.” She also has work on display at M.V. Hospital, and at The Granary Gallery in West Tisbury and A Gallery in Oak Bluffs. Ms. Kane’s helmet series, consisting of military helmets painted and displayed as icons of war, will be on display at the Prow Artspace in New York’s Flatiron Building on Manhattan’s lower West Side this fall.

Cindy Kane: Wing to Wing opening reception, 4:30–6:30 pm, Saturday, August 23, Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, Vineyard Haven. Show runs through September 6. For more information, visit mvplayhouse.org.


“S is for Sea Glass” by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Doris Ettlinger, Sleeping Bear Press, Jan. 2014, 32 pages. $15.95.

Award-winning poet and children’s book writer Richard Michelson combines his writing talents in a new children’s book, “S is for Sea Glass,” written in a variety of poetic forms. New Jersey-based illustrator Doris Ettlinger draws on her experiences at Cedar Grove Beach Club in Staten Island, N.Y., where she grew up, for her colorful watercolors and mixed media images of children, dogs, and marine life celebrating sand and ocean.

The current poet laureate of Northampton, where he resides in the off season, Mr. Michelson dedicates his new book to the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association’s year-rounders and summer residents. He and his wife, Jennifer, summer at their cottage in the Campground with their dog, Mollie. In both his poetry and his children’s books, the author has built a reputation for writing about social issues.

His most recent children’s books include “Twice as Good: The Story of William Powell and Clearview, The Only Golf Course Designed, Built, and Owned by an African American,” (2012); and “Lipman Pike: America’s First Home Run King” (2011), about a young Jewish New Yorker who became a baseball champion in the mid-19th century.

Although “S is for Sea Glass” primarily celebrates the joys of living and playing at the edge of the sea, Mr. Michelson’s distinctive style shines through in a number of ways. His marine alphabet includes off-season as well as summertime activities. The letter “I” stands for ice, where the author hails waves, that “like waiters, keep bringing ice cubes to the shore/Which looks like a magical ice castle floor.” Shells find their way into this beach alphabet through the letter “E,” which stands for empty shells. “If you display your shells with pride/Remember mollusks lived inside,” Mr. Michelson suggests.

He taps his skills as a poet by employing a variety of different poetic forms. “P is for Pail” is written in traditional three-line, five-seven-five-syllable haiku form:

Yellow birds on sand

Stay still when I approach. Oh!

My shovel and pail.

Sometimes his alphabet poems rhyme, as in “K is for Kite:”

Today we have gone fishing. Dad’s excited, so am I.

He’s angling in the ocean. Me? I’m fishing in the sky.

In “O is for Ocean,” Mr. Michelson launches into an ode:

O the ocean is full of emotion.

What are waves but its hopes and its fears?

By creating an alphabet of poems, the author has produced a children’s book that asks to be read out loud together by parents and children. And Ms. Ettlinger aptly captures the spirit of this Vineyard writer with designs that aptly comment on the subjects of the verses.

"The Island, Lovers, Summer Storm" by Mr. Petlin, who is showing his work at A Gallery.

By Mathea Morais

When I was a younger, going to Irving Petlin’s home was like stepping into another sphere — where beauty existed everywhere. It was in the sweeping curve of the lawn, the old Wayside Farm barn that had been turned into a house, and it was in the colorful, poignant stories that Mr. Petlin told about this tree, that collection of white stones.

As I got older, that beauty was especially alive at the end of summer when the doors to his studio were opened and those lucky enough were invited in to witness what he’d been doing since June — pastels that were breathtaking and quieting — the way art can be when it speaks directly to you.

Mr. Petlin is considered a master pastel artist; he works with pastels made by the Roche family who’ve made pastels for nearly 300 years for artists such as Manet and Degas. His love of the medium started in 1961 in the blazing sun of the South of France. “Pastels are like heat itself, they are minerals of the earth — compressed, crushed, turned into powder,” he said in a recent interview. “The light they give is quite different. I associate them with the heat and dust of summer.”

Mr. Petlin, who lives in Paris during the winter, has shown all over the world, but even though he has summered on Martha’s Vineyard for nearly 40 years, this summer, for the first time, he will hold a show on Martha’s Vineyard at the A Gallery in Oak Bluffs.

When I met with him recently in the stonewalled studio that once kept the horses of Wayside Farm in Chilmark, I asked, “Why now?”

“I am almost 80 years old and this is a turning of a page that I’ve never turned before. At my age, turning pages becomes more interesting than almost anything.”

Mr. Petlin originally came to the Vineyard to fulfill a pledge he made to himself after leaving Chicago for the first time at 17: to make sure his children did not have “the city life as the only mirror to look into” at a much earlier age. Since then, Petlin has brought his family to the Island and has spent his summers, not swimming or boating, but producing significant works of art.

Last summer, after visiting Mr. Petlin’s open studio, Tanya Augoustinos of A Gallery immediately asked if he would do a show. At first he wasn’t sure, but then, after finishing the work for a show this winter in Paris, he realized he’d already started a continuation for a show here and reached out to Augoustinos.

“When you only come to the Vineyard once a year, it is on your mind in a very symbolic way,” said Mr. Petlin. “It is a place of a special nature that you don’t experience any place else and I thought, I could do something about the mythology of the Island that I carry around with me. It’s not the mythology of the Island itself, it’s my mythology about being on the Island over all this time, despite all that happens in the world.”

Mr. Petlin’s art has always been driven by what is happening politically and socially in the world. However, the pieces for this show are what he calls a pause from those struggles, to take time out and create works for Martha’s Vineyard. A pause that, he says, for someone so connected to that upheaval for so long, is very important.

Mr. Petlin chose three aspects of the Vineyard as visual metaphors for this pause. These include the cottage that the Petlins return to every summer, the Island’s devotion to both the boat and the fish, and the Island as we see it from the beach and in our mind. Finally, there are pieces from Shakespeare’s Lear on the beach. “Lear, who imagines that he has fallen on a beach in his old age, relates to me more than anyone else,” he laughs. The other, Petlin calls a personal memoir about a visit from his three brothers to the Island that never happened, though he always wished it would.

Ms. Auguostinos realizes hosting Mr. Petlin is quite an achievement. “I can’t believe he’s doing the show,” she said, her excitement obvious. “He’s a serious artist with very rare depth. I’m thrilled at the idea of introducing more people to his perspective and history and what goes into his work.”

Mythology… And the Island – Pastels by Irving Petlin, Opening Reception Saturday, August 23, 5–7 pm. An Artist Talk will take place on Wednesday, August 27, 6 pm, both events at A Gallery, Oak Bluffs. For more information, call 917-378-0662 or visit AGalleryMV.com.

Mathea Morais has been the lucky neighbor and friend of Irving Petlin and his family for many years. She is the former editor of Martha’s Vineyard Patch and currently teaches high school at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School.

Emily Boyd, left, and Lily Haynes climb the climbing wall.

Families participate in the Fair in different ways, passing on their enthusiasm from one generation to the next.

Children almost universally enjoy the rides. And people of all ages look forward to ice cream and tempura, not to mention the various shows and events. If you add a few hall exhibit projects, bring animals to show, and work or volunteer, the Fair can define half of a family’s summer.

A lot of things have held constant over the years. Chris Murphy of Chilmark says that his earliest memories of the fair were about food and selling a litter of golden retriever puppies. A few years later, he decided to enter something in the hall exhibits.

“The first Fair entry I can remember, I was 12 years old and was at home alone with the ‘Joy of Cooking’ cookbook and I decided that I had to do something,” Mr. Murphy recalls. “I entered it in the men’s cooking contest and I got a prize, but my mother said she should have gotten the prize because it took her two weeks to clean the kitchen.”

This summer Mr. Murphy is helping his six-year-old granddaughter, Emily Boyd, learn to do paper mache for a project she’s planning to enter in the Fair.

Bill Haynes of West Tisbury recalls waiting for the rides to show up, not because the rides were so exciting in themselves but because that meant that the Fair was coming.

“I always liked the cows,” Mr. Haynes says.

Although he and his wife, Betty, say that they haven’t entered much in the Hall exhibits, they have a collection of prize ribbons hanging by their kitchen fireplace. Mr. Haynes, a retired West Tisbury Fire Chief, helped get the   Fire Department’s burger booth started, and his children and older grandchildren all volunteer in there.

Mr. Haynes puts up the fencing to mark out the Fairgrounds, sometimes accompanied by his second-to-youngest grandchild, Lilly. His son, Bruce, is the Fair plumber, and Betty Haynes works in the ticket booth.

“Between and amongst us we have reasons to be there,” he said.

Molly Scarborough and Dale McClure

Molly Scarborough and Dale McClure —

Molly Scarborough’s father, Dale McClure of Vineyard Haven, is president of the M.V. Agricultural Society’s board of directors. He’s also in charge of the ox pull and the horse pull. About eight years ago, Mr. McClure started the tractor pull.

“My father needed somebody to help, so I just sat down and took the measurements,” says Ms. Scarborough, who lives in West Tisbury. “So now I’m the one in the booth keeping the score. My husband won the competition for the first four years, but then there got to be more competition, which is good.”

Ms. Scarborough has passed on her love of the Fair to her four-year-old son, Jack. “His favorite thing has probably got to be the rides, he likes the bouncy house. He has put in a piece of art every year; I make him.”

Last year, Jack also entered his pet Nigerian dwarf goats. “Jack loves to ride them,” his mother says.

Jessica Hartenstein, also of West Tisbury, came to the Fair relatively late in life, but her whole family is involved too.

“I was here with my dad in the summertime since 1984,” she says. “Once I moved here full-time, which was in ’97, I started going a lot. Usually my friend Chrissy [Kinsman, of Pie Chicks] and I have a competition to see who would win the special award for the brownies with no nuts. Now that both of us have won all the ribbons we can, we’ve stopped that.”

Ms. Hartenstein has also entered sewing projects and special displays, along with vegetables and flowers.

“The kids have entered things, and we’ve all won ribbons. Sarah did a watercolor of the Fair poster with the rooster on it, year before last, and that year Azor did a rock sculpture of a shark.”

Ms. Hartenstein’s husband, Russ, works in the firemen’s booth every day of the Fair, and Sarah works, too.

“Sarah is a runner for when you give your stuff for the Hall,” Ms. Hartenstein says. “Once they get to be eight years old they can do that. She couldn’t wait for that to happen.”

That is the very same job that Chris Murphy did six decades ago: “As 8- to 10-year-olds we all helped set up the Hall, and it seems to me we got a free ticket for working three days,” he recalls.

Being part of the Fair is one of the great highlights of the summer for these and many other families, across and within the generations. And the Fair connects families too, year after year, generation after generation. Emily Boyd, for example, says that her favorite part of the Fair is to play on the rides with her friend, Lilly Haynes.

Janie Bryant talking about her work on Mad Men and how Scarlett O'Hara and the movie Gone with the Wind influenced her life and career choice

What is the common thread that sews Don Draper’s suits to the sails of a Black Dog tall ship? It has something to do with “Insanity, Genius, and the Creative Process,” the theme of the inaugural TEDx Martha’s Vineyard event, which took place at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center on Tuesday, August 19.

Proud event staff Ken Wentworth (Production Director), Maggie Bryan (Co-Organizer) and Liz Witham (Production Coordinator).

Proud event staff Ken Wentworth (Production Director), Maggie Bryan (Co-Organizer) and Liz Witham (Production Coordinator) Not pictured: Katy Decker (Organizer). — Lisa Vanderhoop

The independently organized event, brought to the Island by Katy Decker of Chilmark, was based on the TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) model of “Ideas Worth Spreading,” and hosted 14 live speakers and a handful of video presentations. Those who missed the sold-out event can access recordings of the talk on YouTube and at tedxmarthasvineyard.com after September 1.

In addition to “Mad Men” costume designer Janie Bryant and Black Dog tall ship captain Ian Ridgeway, the diverse pool of speakers included illusionist Brad Barton, fashion designer/boxing champion Nellie Partow, film producer Gary Foster, composer and music theorist Dmitri Tymoczko, neuroscience professor Bevil Conway, designer Sebastian Errazuriz, musician Devonte Hynes, sommelier Andre Mac, social-emotional educator Brian Gordon, musician Alan Palomo, artist/philosopher Ignacio Rodriguez Bach, and author/screenwriter Jon Ronson. A dance performance by ChristinaNoel & The Creature and a surprise reading by poet Justin Ahren were interspersed between the lectures. All performances either discussed or demonstrated how their creative processes toed the border of insanity and genius.

Many an audience member was seen scribbling notes during the quotable talks when not enraptured by music, or a striking image on the projector. Memorable moments were plentiful. After wowing the audience with a card trick, Mr. Barton encouraged everyone to “turn off the analytical mind” in order to make room for more wonder and astonishment in life. Ms. Partow discussed the discrepancy between living a dream and working toward one, insisting it should be about “the measure of joy along the way.” Mr. Foster told of a frightening episode in actor Jamie Foxx’s creative process as he strove to capture the schizophrenic mind on film. After engaging the audience in a rendition of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” Mr. Tymoczko demonstrated the complex mathematical and geometric forms that illustrate rock music. Mr. Conway discussed color and optical illusion, insisting that “like a toddler smashing blocks,” we must “cut up our world to increase our understanding of it.” Ms. Bryant mused that her obsession with Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind” fueled her future.

Dmitri Tymoczko, a music theorist at Princeton University, discussed the geometry of music.

Dmitri Tymoczko, a music theorist at Princeton University, discussed the geometry of music. — Lisa Vanderhoop

Perhaps the greatest takeaway from Tuesday’s event was the mantra, “be yourself.” Several speakers acknowledged that their creativity, though it set them apart from others, was a blessing. “We can create how we want, as long as it makes sense to ourselves,” said Mr. Hynes, a musician with synesthesia. Mr. Mac embraced the role of the black sheep, saying “You have to get used to being criticised by people who have never created anything original in their life.” Mr. Ridgeway discussed the importance of self-reliance as “something the ocean demands of us with all its indifference,” and Mr Errazuriz encouraged perseverance in the face of failure, saying, “If you work really hard, even those who missed your ideas will gather around you to see what you’re building.”

The sold-out crowd took the advice of charismatic co-organizer Maggie Bryan, by not just listening to the talks, but actively participating in the conversation and discussing the concepts with their friends and neighbors during breaks. It was a long day in a dark room, but thought-provoking topics kept the audience sharp.

“This was such a great mix of speakers and performers,” Wendy Jacobs of Vineyard Haven said. “Certainly a few of them took me by surprise. I watch TED a lot, and I think each speaker here brought a great message. I hope they do it again next year.”

Plans for another TEDx Martha’s Vineyard in 2015 are in the works, and more info can be found at tedxmarthasvineyard.com.

Cotton candy, ribs, burgers and tempura go great with a little music. The fair is always a popular place to hear Island musicians.

Before the Fair moved from the Grange Hall to its current home in 1995, live music meant fiddles, lots of fiddles — from a fiddlers’ contest to live bands featuring fiddle music. You get the idea: music fit for a county fair.

Now, however, the soundtrack to the Fair includes a little bit of everything, from blues to country to doo-wop to jazz. If you want the more traditional fiddle, folk, and bluegrass, visit the Acoustic Corner. For something a little bit different, check out these bands on the main stage.

Blue Ribbons – Best in show

Blue Ribbons have been bringing their catchy piano-driven original rock to clubs in Cambridge, Boston, and beyond for years. Classic rock with a jazzy feel. The soulful singing, smokin’ guitar, and traditional rock sound will remind you of a host of rock legends — Eric Clapton, the Band etc.

Jon Zeeman – Jazz my day

Jon Zeeman started out his career playing in New York City and Scandinavia. Since the 1990s, Zeeman has established himself as one of the most popular local musicians — playing everywhere from dive bars to private parties and fundraisers. A mix of jazz, jazz-funk, blues and rock, the band is a tight unit of consummate musicians led by master guitarist Zeeman whose influences include Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix.

The Stragglers – Country for the country fan in us all

Since the mid-1980s, The Stragglers have been bringing good old-time country music to Martha’s Vineyard. In their heyday, The Stragglers played venues around the Island such as The Hot Tin Roof and bars and parties.

Named for the fact that “people straggle in and out of the band,” according to founder Merrily Fenner, the group has changed its lineup over the years, but the music remains a tribute to the greats of country. Some sample songs include “Hey, Good Lookin’” and “Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”

Serendipity – Girls just wanna have fun, 1950s style

Serendipity started out as an all girls’ band (girls of a certain age, that is) but they have since added one guy on guitar. Still, a lot of their music hearkens back to the 50s and 60s — the days of doo-wop and girl groups. Fun, feel-good music that will take you back in time. Sample songs include “One Fine Day” (the Chiffons), “Fever” (Peggy Lee), and “Shop Around” (the Miracles).

Island Country – Walk the country line

Old-time country is, not surprisingly, what you can expect from the band Island Country. Think Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard. Founder Rick O’Gorman has been playing country music for 30-plus years. “I’ve played at every bar that was ever on the Island and some that are still on the Island,” he says.

He’s gathered together a group of similar minded musicians for a band that will include Anthony Benton Gude on pedal steel guitar, and they will be recruiting surprise guests. “We love country music and we’re thrilled to play the Fair,” says Mr. O’Gorman.

Bored of Health – Alt rock meets country

You may have seen them playing clubs around Boston — places like Johnny D’s in Cambridge have been hosting Bored of Health for more than 10 years now. Anything but boring, their original pop/rock/country tunes will get you up and dancing — maybe even two-stepping. A new, countrified sound for alternative rock fans. Members include Islander Tauras Biskis on drums, along with keyboards, guitar, and standup bass.

The Roundabouts – Full circle of musical genres  

The Roundabouts have been around a little longer than their namesake — the mid-Island intersection — and they’re similarly winning Islanders over. The band, founded by husband and wife Erik and Cheryl Lowe, plays country, blues, and rock with a rockabilly sensibility and a nod to the classics. This is their third year at the Fair. They also play at bars around Oak Bluffs and will appear at the P-A Club on Saturday night. Sample songs include a range of country and blues: “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Route 66,” “Kansas City,” and, for a slight psychedelic departure, “Magic Carpet Ride”

The Ben Higgins Band – Hooks galore

The Ben Higgins Band plays all original tunes with a mix of country and progressive folk featuring catchy tunes. The three-piece unit includes piano, guitar, banjo, and resonator for a rich, full sound.

“I like to think that we create some sort of positive atmosphere,” Ben Higgins says. “The songs get stuck in your head. That’s what people say.”

Judge for yourself. This fall Vineyard native Higgins is headed for country music hub Nashville, so check out his band at the Fair while you can or catch him playing piano at the Lambert’s Cove Inn in West Tisbury every Thursday through Sunday.

"Bike Rentals," an oil on linen by Jeanne Staples.

Edgartown painter Jeanne Staples brings a medley of landscapes, figurative paintings, and other subjects to her new show at West Tisbury’s Granary Gallery. Joining her are award-winning Vineyard photographer Bob Avakian and jewelry designer Ross Coppelman. Their show continues through August 30.

Photographer Bob Avakian poses in front of his work on display at the Granary Gallery.

Photographer Bob Avakian poses in front of his work on display at the Granary Gallery. — Michael Cummo

Ms. Staples’s landscapes are distinguished by the frequent inclusion of houses and other buildings. Combined with evening settings that include brightly lit window squares, her recent work often recalls Edward Hopper. “Nightfall at Flying Horses” hangs a big sky over the oversized Oak Bluffs shed. Even in those paintings that are pure landscape, this artist’s work evokes the absence of people. Paintings such as “Path to Sengekontacket” and “Salt Grass” emphasize strong and pleasing patterns of light and shade. Stone walls serve as strong compositional elements in “Stone Fence,” “Stonewall,” and “Stonewall to Stonewall.” It’s also interesting to note that for her painting “Up-island Forsythia,” Ms. Staples chooses not to depict the signature yellow of this springtime shrub.

Some of Ms. Staples’s handsome larger paintings articulate the unusual combinations of light that are so characteristic of the Vineyard. In “Weather from the South–Southwest,” the reddish-purple color of clouds is reflected in the siding of the houses in the painting. “Workboats at the Reading Room” uses the water surface and light-colored skiffs to echo the region’s powerful light.

Ms. Staples, who studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts and is a member of the Copley Society of Art in Boston, includes “Mutoscope #114,” an anomalous piece of vintage peep-show machinery that the artist collaborated on with Chilmark woodworker Andy Palmer.  The Mutoscope is a variation on the kind of flipbooks and nickelodeons that create the illusion of motion and predate the motion picture. In addition Ms. Staples has created a series of 14 paintings of the equines from The Flying Horses. “Andy is part craftsman, part artist, and part crazy inventor,” Ms. Staples says in her artist’s statement. “It was a joy to work with him.”

Jeweler Ross Coppleman, here with Janice McBride, showed off his wares during the three artist showing at the Granary Gallery.

Jeweler Ross Coppleman, here with Janice McBride, showed off his wares during the three artist showing at the Granary Gallery. — Michael Cummo

Vineyard photographer Bob Avakian uses his camera to make powerful images that fit well with Ms. Staples’s oil paintings. He has put on exhibit a series of photographs shot at night that often pay tribute to star-studded skies without over sentimentalizing them. “A Cape Cod Night” depicts its large evening sky predominantly in dark yellow with stars that are small streaks of white. In “Night Mist,” stars are blurred stripes of light in a dark sky that dominates the photograph, while a bank of mist hangs low above a field and the house next to it. The stars in “My Back Yard” are bright dots in the night sky.

Strong lights dot many of this photographer’s compositions, usually executed in a square format, but it’s not always clear what their source is, as in the case of “Into the Light.” “King of the Hill” depicts the silhouette of a horse, his neck arched and tail swirling, as if caught in the act of prancing. It comes as a surprise and helps the viewer appreciate the solitary nature of most of Mr. Avakian’s compositions.

Harvard-trained jewelry artist Ross Coppelman says, “I use traditional materials in a nontraditional way. My designs travel in time between Egypt and the year 2000.” Mr. Coppelman has on display a variety of bracelets and bangles in 18-carat gold or sterling silver, necklaces, and earrings, many studded with precious and semi precious stones, including diamonds, turquoise, onyx, and aquamarine. Mr. Coppelman draws for inspiration from Roman, Aztec, and Byzantine art, as well as Egyptian design elements. One of his most striking creations is a tidal flats ring made with hematite and diamonds. He trained with Cape Cod jeweler Bernie Kelly and has a showroom at Sunflower Marketplace in Yarmouth Port. Up to almost half of his jewelry is one of a kind, with the rest produced in limited editions.

Jeanne Staples, Bob Avakian and Ross Coppelman show, Granary Gallery, West Tisbury. Show runs through August 30. For information, call 508-693-0455 or visit granarygallery.com.


Director Richard Linklater’s new film, “Boyhood,” opens at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center this weekend. One of the superstars from the 1990s Indie movement, Mr. Linklater is probably best known for his trio of films about a couple, played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who meet on a train in Europe and fall in love in “Before Sunrise,” (1995); renew their romance nine years later in “Before Sunset,” (2004); and, most recently, continue their seasoned relationship after 20 years together in “Before Midnight” (2013).

A highly versatile director, Mr. Linklater has produced comedies like “Bad News Bears” (2005), “School of Rock” (2003) and his breakout film, “Slacker” (1991); as well as documentaries including “Fast Food Nation” (2006). Linklater fiction films tend to take place over 24 hours and be set in Texas, where the director was born, grew up, and returned after working on an oil rig.

In “Boyhood” the director tries a new approach, following the life of Mason  Jr., played by Ellar Coltrane, from the age of five to 18. Mason lives with his mother, played by Patricia Arquette, and his sister Samantha, played by the director’s daughter, Lorelei Linklater. Mason’s dad –– divorced from his mom –– is played by frequent Linklater cast member Ethan Hawke. Viewers will enjoy the remarkable experience of watching not just Mason Jr., but the actor who plays him, grow up before their eyes, since the film was shot over 12 years.

Mr. Linklater masterfully depicts the messy but loving dynamics of a Texas-based, Middle-America family. Mom runs through three marriages, gets an advanced degree and a job teaching psychology, and moves the family numerous times over the course of the movie. Viewers will watch how Mason Jr., a dreamy, sensitive boy, reacts to the life-changing experiences thrust upon him and his sister Sam by their parents. His father, Mason Sr., plays an important role in Mason Jr.’s life, as do his mother’s other husbands and the stepsiblings who move in and out of his world.

As Mason Jr., moves toward adulthood, the viewers see him struggle with his responses to his experiences and to the decisions that arise over the 12 years covered by the film. Shooting from 2002 to 2013, Mr. Linklater brought the cast together annually, and, in effect, first created a series of 10 to 12 short films, each representing another year in Mason Jr.’s life and that of his family. Amazingly enough, the entire film was shot in 39 days over 12 years’ time. Rather than rely on the conventional Hollywood melodrama formula, “Boyhood’s” two-and-a-half hours unfold in an episodic format. As such, the movie establishes the deeply satisfying kind of intimacy that comes from the serial nature of the best TV shows.

“Serendipity: The Story of Tony Hussein Hinde,” Thursday, August 21, 8 pm, The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival, Harbor View Hotel, Edgartown. For tickets and information, visit tmvff.org.

 “Boyhood,” Friday, August 22; Saturday, August 23; Monday, August 25; Tuesday, August 26, 7:30 pm, M.V. Film Society, Vineyard Haven. $12; $9 members; $7 under 14. For tickets and information, visit mvfilmsociety.com.