Things to Do

The first in a series of first aid clinics designed to address specific topics that will empower individuals to be the first link in the chain of care and survival is scheduled for Saturday, March 14. The YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard, in partnership with the Martha’s Vineyard Association of EMTs, will provide practical tutorials and demonstrations of situations that require immediate action in a health crisis, according to a press release.

Island EMTs and paramedics will be on hand to help participants to understand what to do, and what not to do, if someone is in medical distress. The clinics are designed to provide invaluable information in very uncomplicated language from experienced Island medical responders, and are tailor-made for health caretakers, teachers, restaurant workers, public transportation personnel, and members of the general public.

The first clinic, “How to Control Bleeding/Hemorrhaging,” is Sat., March 14, 10 am to 11:30 am ($10 members, $15 public). For more information contact Ray Whitaker, Red Cross Safety Program coordinator, at 508-696-7171 or

Old New England pastime buoyed by cheer and beer.

Cribbage winner Kate Medeiros with host Jake Gifford at Offshore Ale. – Photo by Rich Saltzberg

Cribbage returned to Offshore Ale last Sunday in a tournament hosted by Jake Gifford, co-owner of the Lazy Frog. Kate Medeiros of Vineyard Haven outplayed a field of 12 competitors from across the Island to take first place, while Tony Rezendes of West Tisbury placed second. They received $30 and $20 gift certificates, respectively, to Offshore Ale.

Erin Hepfner, who came to the Vineyard from Maine, and now works at Polly Hill Arboretum, may not have won anything Sunday, but nevertheless she enjoyed herself.

“I was very pleased that Jake, [co-]owner of Lazy Frog, and Offshore Ale once again hosted the event,” she said in an email to The Times. “I am appreciative that businesses like Lazy Frog and Offshore collaborate to provide the community with unique activities in the winter. I enjoyed seeing familiar and new faces from last year’s cribbage games. As much fun as I have playing cribbage, it’s also nice to meet new folks and to catch up with people I might not see otherwise.”

Winner Kate Medeiros is no stranger to the game. In an email to The Times she said, “I’ve been playing since fifth grade, when I was taught in math class, and I continued playing with my mother and friends ever since. It’s rewarding to play a game that involves both luck and technique. A lot of it is based on the cards you’re dealt, but there is a level of skill and control wrapped up in how you play those cards you’re given.”

For Tony Rezendes, who co-owns the Square Rigger restaurant in Edgartown, cribbage is a daily activity. Each morning, over coffee, he plays Shirley Howell at Alley’s. He holds a lot of respect for her prowess at the game.

“She knows how to play,” he said in a telephone interview with The Times.

Beer and cribbage make for an eventful Sunday at Offshore Ale. – Photo by Michael Cummo
Beer and cribbage make for an eventful Sunday at Offshore Ale. – Photo by Michael Cummo

In the late ’60s, as a member of the now defunct Chilmark Cribbage League, Mr. Rezendes squared off against Lenny Jason (Edgartown’s longtime building inspector), as well as late Islanders Jim Howell, David Flanders, and Oscar Flanders.

Mr. Rezendes said he was the last member to ever win 12 games in a row in the league, a streak that brought him a set of silver cribbage pegs previously held by Louis Larson. Mr. Rezendes said the cherished pegs are still with him.

Jessie Holtham, operations manager at Offshore Ale and a Down East transplant like her friend Erin Hepfner, came to play in the tournament on her day off.

“Cribbage has a lot of pub-play history,” she said in an email to The Times. “I grew up in Maine, where cribbage is a serious barroom pastime. It was a natural fit that Jake from the Lazy Frog Shop would be Offshore’s cribbage tournament host. He is fun and enthusiastic, but most important, he has mastered the rules.”

Ms. Holtham pointed out that the day of the week that cribbage is now held at Offshore Ale is different from last year, but that doesn’t seemed to have hampered attendance. Even in the doldrums of winter, the tournament managed to draw spectators as well as competitors.

“This season’s first cribbage tournament saw many repeat fans from 2014 and a few new faces,” she said. “There were also the curious folk who came to watch but not play. We switched from Thursday evenings in 2014 to Sunday afternoons in 2015. There are only four more Sundays of cribbage at Offshore left this season (Sundays in March 2015). If the event grows in popularity and there is a demand for Cribbage Sundays, then Offshore and host Jake Gifford will consider adding more dates.”

Mr. Gifford, who sells cribbage boards and pegs along with playing cards at his shop, hopes new folks will venture to Offshore this Sunday to play some cribbage.

“Cribbage is a great game because it involves both strategy and luck,” he said. “It is most commonly played with two, three, or four players. All players, beginner to advanced, are welcome to show up on Sundays at Offshore from 2:30 to 5 pm to learn, compete, or just to watch how the games are played. It’s free to play, and prizes will be awarded to the top three players!”

Everyone’s an artist at the Paint Corner Art Bar.

Sydney Mullen and Linley Dolby attend a previous Paint Corner event at the Wharf last fall. – Photo courtesy of Leslie Belkner

“No experience required.” That’s the main thing that art instructor Leslie Belkner stresses in describing the Paint Corner Art Bar classes that she has been leading on the Vineyard for almost a year now. Amateurs as well as absolute newbies to painting are all guaranteed to “walk away with an awesome painting,” according to Ms. Belkner.

However, you might want to brush up on your dance moves. There is a penalty for vocalizing any negativity about yourself or your artistic abilities. “You have to come up in front of the class and dance to a Beyoncé song,” says Ms. Belkner. She’s half kidding, but also half serious. (Students have actually followed through on the punishment.)

That should give you some idea of the nature of the Art Bar, a trend that’s proliferated recently, especially in urban areas. According to Ms. Belkner, it’s a hands-on learning experience that will yield a professional-looking finished product, but it’s also a lot of fun.

Leslie Belkner, founder and director of Paint Corner Art Bar, teaches a painting class at Behind the Bookstore in Edgartown. – Photo courtesy Leslie Belkner
Leslie Belkner, founder and director of Paint Corner Art Bar, teaches a painting class at Behind the Bookstore in Edgartown. – Photo courtesy Leslie Belkner


Through her classes in Cambridge and here, the Paint Corner founder and director has made artists out of novices and believers out of nonbelievers. “We hear it all the time,” she says, “People walk in skeptics, saying, ‘I’m not creative at all.’ They walk out more than pleased with what they’ve produced.”

For each three-hour class, Ms. Belkner selects a picture and walks the class through the techniques necessary to make their own versions. Participants will learn skills along the way that they can take to future projects.

Paint Corner Art Bar has been operating out of a studio in Cambridge for two years now. Ms. Belkner and her roster of seven instructors offer six classes a week with a variety of paintings. Paint Corner has also hosted numerous private events, including birthday and bachelorette parties, corporate team-building events, holiday parties, meetups and fundraisers.

Since an offshoot of the Cambridge business was launched on-Island last May, almost all classes have sold out. The weekly summer sessions were held at various locations, including restaurants, inns, and private clubs. The once-a-month off-season classes have taken place mainly at the Portuguese-American Club in Oak Bluffs. A core group of devotees has developed, and some have gone on to more advanced projects.

“It’s a great mixer,” says Ms. Belkner. “People are encouraged to walk around and talk and see what their friends are doing. It’s called social painting.” Generally, as is the case in the off-season events at the P.A. Club, alcohol is involved. Participants can order drinks from the bar, and there’s plenty of time for socializing.

Attendees of a Paint Corner Art Bar event in January at the P.A. Club show off their finished products.  – Photo courtesy Leslie Belkner
Attendees of a Paint Corner Art Bar event in January at the P.A. Club show off their finished products. – Photo courtesy Leslie Belkner

But drinking, joking, and the occasional dance presentation aside, participants are learning real skills along the way.

“Although we do make it fun, we layer in painting techniques,” says Ms. Belkner. “You will learn about perspective and design, mix your colors, and make your brushstrokes. You will absolutely learn about painting.” Art Corner provides all of the materials.

You don’t have to make an exact duplicate of the selected painting either; there’s room for individuality. “We say at the beginning of every class that you can follow along to the letter, or you can change things up. You can make the color palette anything you want. You can make a sunny or a stormy sky.”

Ms. Belkner has a background as both an artist and a teacher. Before opening Paint Corner, she had her own graphic-design business, and was a senior designer at Sam Adams and a museum teacher at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. She is also an established artist in her own right: “Paint has always been my first love. I work mostly in oils.” Ms. Belkner has shown her work in galleries in Boston and Cambridge. “I’m an artist. I really want to bring art to everyone. I make it fun and easy and a way for people to explore their creativity.”

Ms. Belkner has a strong connection to the Island. “I met my husband here. We got married here. We have a home in Oak Bluffs. I’m really so happy to be bringing this to the Island. I knew that there were a lot of people who have a creative spirit on the Vineyard.”

The artist/teacher recently started volunteering at the Food Pantry, and she would like to get more involved with Vineyard organizations. “I want to give back to the Island,” she says. “I’m aware of the issues that the Vineyard faces.”

A portion of the proceeds from the April 13 Paint Corner Art Bar event at the P.A. Club will benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s “Bike MS: Ride the Vineyard” event, happening on May 2. “As an MS patient myself, I find this cause extremely personal and important, and we are happy to help support this longstanding fundraising tradition,” said Ms. Belkner.

The next Paint Corner Art Bar event takes place on Monday, March 9, at 7 pm at the P.A. Club, and will feature a painting of a “Flower Patch.” Tickets are $40. Visit for more information and to purchase tickets.

An evening of comedy welcomes Boston comics back to the Island.

Local MCs Dan Cassidy, left, and John Tiernan (a.k.a. Johnny Showtime), right, will host a comedy-driven trivia contest. – Photo courtesy of Harbor View Hotel

Nothing moves on the roads, and yet far in the distance we see lights amid the frozen tundra. Villagers gather and laughter rings out. Is this a scene from Beowulf? On the contrary, it’s happening at least 12 centuries later — in fact, this Friday night, Feb. 27, at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown: It’s the (almost) annual Evening of Comedy to blast us out of our frigid-season lethargy.

The regional director of marketing for the hotel, Elizabeth Rothwell (also dear to our hearts as a graduate of MVRHS, class of ’97), first organized this event in the winter of 2012, then again in 2013. Busy with other happenings, she skipped the show in 2014, only to have avid fans clamor for a comeback.

To book the event’s trio of Boston comics, Ms. Rothwell turns to Dick and Kathy Doherty of Beantown Comedy, with two clubs, one in Boston, the other in Worcester. For decades Boston has been known for more than its tales of Paul Revere and bowls of clam “chowdah.” The town’s funnymen (and hilarious women, of course) have created a special niche for their homegrown humor: Brash, rowdy, and innovative are words commonly used to describe their style.

Boston comedian Fran Solomita devoted a full documentary to the subject, When Stand Up Stood Out. He attributes the iconic humor to a melting pot of intelligent and gritty working-class youth up against the hip college crowd: “Those two things right next to each other created an odd vibe — really smart people who also understand a dollar earned. The comedy just sort of percolated.”

Mr. Solomita referred to what are considered the glory days of Boston comedy, the ’80s and ’90s, but clearly the continuing success of comedy clubs in the metropolis and surrounding areas — including ours in Edgartown this Friday night — lets us know that Boston humor as an industry is alive and well.

Ms. Doherty of Beantown Comedy told The Times by phone this week, “Although there are fewer comedy clubs in Boston, there are just as many people going to the shows. The quality of Boston comedy remains elite at a national level.”

The Harbor View evening spotlights Orlando Baxter, a finalist in NBC’s Stand Up For Diversity Showcase; Amy Tee, who, according to Beantown Comedy’s press release, “brings boyish charm and dry wit to her experiences with alcoholism and bipolar disorder with stigma-bursting honesty”; and Shaun Bedgood, who was featured in a Boston Globe article in 2005 as “one of Boston’s best young comics.”

The main show starts at 9 pm this Friday, but for Islanders keen to clear out of their cold dark houses earlier, a new warm-up portion of the show has been added to the program. Island merrymakers Dan Cassidy, maestro for years of weekly trivia night at the Wharf, and local hotelier and entertainer Johnny Showtime (John Tiernan), the master of revels behind the Wharf’s bingo nights (“Not your grandma’s bingo night,” he calls it), will be putting together, for Vineyarders’ delectation, a comedy-driven trivia contest. (The Wharf is closed for cleaning this month, and Mr. Cassidy and Mr. Tiernan are aware of trivia addicts dying a slow death everywhere on the Island. Knowing themselves to be arguably the sole delivery system at this time of year, they’re rushing to fill the void.)

Mr. Tiernan, reached by phone this week said, “I’m not a comedian.” Then he paused for a second before adding, “But I’m very funny!” He maintains that his goal in life has always been to work as a concierge in a hotel. Not too long ago, longtime hotelier Caleb Caldwell approached him about buying the Dockside Inn together, on the harbor in Oak Bluffs. Mr. Tiernan confided, “So now I’m a concierge, all right. With a mortgage.” His dream is real, however, as in the summer he jokes and chats with his guests all the livelong day.

Tickets for Friday’s events are priced at $25. Admission along with a prix-fixe meal in the luxe and cheerful dining room of the Water Street Restaurant within the hotel is $55. For those wishing to attend without dinner, drinks and a snacks menu will be available.

Ms. Rothwell, sailing into her 11th season at the Harbor View, is pleased to see how well her open-seating arrangement has worked out for the show: “People find themselves at tables with interesting strangers or folks they haven’t seen all winter. There’s a fun meet-and-greet aspect to the evening.”

As a final memo to our communal mental health at the end of this long winter: We’re constantly exhorted to “live, laugh, and love,” and if we had to choose just one of those three activities, we’d probably, in all honesty, go for “laugh,” which in turn makes the living and loving mo’ better. Or mo’ “bettah!” as Boston comics would say.

Tickets for Friday night’s Evening of Comedy are available by calling 508-627-7000, or online at Event is 18-plus.

"Birdman" won the Oscar for best picture. – Photo courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes

The Vineyard Haven library continues to provide free screenings of Oscar-nominated movies, with the second installment on Tuesday, March 3, at 7 pm, featuring the four-time Oscar winner Birdman: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance. The film, starring Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, and Ed Norton, is a black comedy that tells the story of an actor (Michael Keaton) — famous for portraying an iconic superhero — as he struggles to mount a Broadway play. In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself. The film is rated R. Refreshments will be served. For additional information, call 508-696-4211.

Matt Cancellare works out his body and mind in his home gym. – Photo by Kelsey Perrett

As part of Oak Bluffs library’s Fit in ’15 initiative, a yearlong program designed to keep Islanders focused on their fitness goals all year, Matt Cancellare will be hosting a boxing workshop on Saturday, Feb. 28, at 1 pm at the library. If you’ve been putting off your resolution, or have ever thought of picking up some boxing gloves, now is the time. Boxing is known to relieve stress and anxiety, release mood-enhancing endorphins, and improve self-confidence, creativity, memory, and sleep. The workshop involves demonstration and audience participation. Comfortable clothes encouraged. Free. For more information, contact or call 508-693-9433.

Nathaniel Janick with the Martha's Vineyard Museum talked about a current oral history project he is archiving. – Photo by Michael Cummo

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum hosted a lively night of PechaKucha at the Harbor View Hotel on Friday night. PechaKucha, which was first hosted by an architecture firm in Japan in 2003 and intended as a networking event for designers, is a simple presentation format consisting of 20 slides, each lasting for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and the presenter talks along to the images.

PechaKucha draws its name from the Japanese term for “chitchat,” and is essentially an adult show and tell.

At a typical PechaKucha event, several participants will present consecutively, and the 6:40 time limit prevents any one presentation from running too long, for the sake of both the audience and the presenter. The format was created to limit the time of a presentation, to keep the presenter concise and the audience engaged. According to, PechaKucha nights are intended to be “informal and fun gatherings where creative people get together and share their ideas, works, thoughts, holiday snaps — just about anything, really.”

The Island’s recent PechaKucha night proved to be just that. On Friday, which was Global PechaKucha night, six presentations were given in the Menemsha Room of the Harbor View Hotel, in front of dozens of neighbors and strangers alike. Topics were wide-ranging, and in true PechKucha format, the topics were not released before the event, making it a surprise for all.

Katy Fuller from the Martha’s Vineyard Museum shared a glimpse into her daily life commuting off-Island each day. Rizwan Malik, also from the museum, and his wife Allyson Malik, from the Oak Bluffs library, recounted their hiking adventures abroad. Martha’s Vineyard Times photo editor Michel Cummo presented on his work as a photojournalist, and Tierney Lane from FARM Institute spoke about her work on agricultural education. Finally, Nathaniel Janick with the M.V. Museum talked about a current oral history project he is archiving, and explained how the public could help him in his efforts.

Spectators sat listening, intrigued by the content, and following along with “oohs” and “aahs” and occasional laughter. After the presentations many attendees remained, complimenting the speakers and sharing knowledge and information. Museum staff thanked participants and commented on how successful the evening was. The museum attempts to host PechaKucha one night each month in the winter, but was forced to cancel last month’s event due to lack of willing participants. The struggle for speakers, according to the museum’s assistant curator Anna Carringer, is partially due to the fear of public speaking. It seems a misguided fear given the comfortable, communal context of PechaKucha, and one that could be easily overcome at the next event.

The next, and possibly final PechaKucha event of the season, will take place Friday, March 13, at 7:30pm, back in the Menemsha room of the Harbor View Hotel. The event is free and open to all to watch. If you are interested in participating as a speaker, call Jessica at 508-627-4441, ext. 123, or email

Photo courtesy Featherstone

Mark your calendars for Monday, March 2. Featherstone will be hosting a cozy evening with Billie Jean Sullivan, making one-of-a-kind intention candles from 6 pm to 7:30 pm. The candles will be crafted using collage papers, magazine clippings, and words, and can provide inspiration and make great gifts as well. Attendees are encouraged to bring in collage materials if available, but materials will be provided. Light refreshments will also be served. Fee is $20 per person. For additional information, contact or call 508-693-1850.

The Potluck Jams are family-friendly. – File Photo by Meg Higgins

The Chilmark Potluck Jam is the place to go for good food and good music this weekend. It’s back on Saturday, Feb. 21, at the Chilmark Community Center, beginning at 6 pm. Some of the Island’s most acclaimed performers will be on hand, including Seamus Galigan, Jemima James, Adam Howell, Phil DaRosa, Rob Myers, Alex Karalekas, Alyssa Cimeno, Ivy Bassett, Rob Lytle, and more. The event is free and open to all ages. Attendees are encouraged to bring a potluck dish and a beverage. For more information, call 508-560-0154.

File photo by Susie Safford

Want to know more about the night sky? Join Mark Alan Lovewell at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary on Friday, Feb. 20, at 6 pm for stargazing. Beginners will learn the basics of astronomy while viewing the stars and planets and discovering winter constellations. Warm up inside the Nature Center with hot cocoa and tea. This program will only run on a clear, cloudless night, so be sure to call on Friday to confirm the event: 508-627-4850. Free and open to the public.