Galleries : Homemade For The Holidays
Featherstone Center for the Arts opens its sixth Holiday Gift Show this weekend. While it may have become a tradition, Executive Director Francine Kelly strives to ensure it continues to evolve. "It's never static," she says. "We try to get more artists involved."
Conscious of the flagging economy, Ms. Kelly notes, "There's a great variety of art at affordable prices. Featherstone's focus is to support Vineyard artists. It's giving for friends, but also giving back to Martha's Vineyard." Gifts prices range from $5 to $250.
This year, Featherstone introduces the work of Terri McAllister, who moved to the Vineyard from Texas four years ago. In what will be her first Vineyard exhibition, Ms. McAllister will display her specialty glass pendants. She explains her technique. "It's basically flame-work and fused. Glass fusing is in a kiln and flame-work is with a torch. Most of the pieces have to be fused in a kiln at 1,500 degrees - in increments so the glass won't break."
Photo by Mary Baker
Nancy Blank, a veteran Featherstone teacher of ceramics, drawing, and Art Camp for Adults, always comes up with a novel gift idea. This year she decided to make animal candles. "I use Polymer clay called Sculpey and mold it and stick a hole for the candle. It's not brain surgery," she says. The frog is her favorite, though her daughter, Becky, prefers the blue hippopotamus. Elephants are popular, while horses, she admits, "are hard with their long legs to make them stand up."
Note cards and Christmas cards abound. Ms. Kelly considers Nancy Kingsley to be the best card seller, though Jean McCarthy, Judy Williamson, and Joyce Dresser give stiff competition.
In the calendar department, Lisa Vanderhoop focuses on dogs while Kevin McGrath adds humor to his animal-themed illustrations.
Retired minister Judy Campbell, whose ministry now is "finding the spirit through creative arts," will display inspirational books of poems, prayers, and meditation. Reverend Campbell will also offer paintings, sculptures, hand-made paper boxes, and sea glass ornaments.
Photo courtesy of Tom Dresser
Another retired minister, David Smith is a fine woodworker, turning out delightful wine-bottle stoppers, bowls, and candlesticks. Mr. Smith exhibited at the Featherstone Flea and Fine Arts Market last summer, but is new to the Gift Show.
Jay Allison's new book, "This I Believe II," a readable compendium of personal beliefs, will be available at the show.
And in the holiday spirit there will be chocolate treats as well, from the recent Chocolate Fest.
Artist Donna Blackburn says, "I'll bring in hand-painted frames, small, decorated mirrors, and hand-knit scarves." She plans to display a decorated wreath. Of the show, she says, "I like it because it's a helpful fundraiser for Featherstone and it's very nice because I don't have to be there to sell the items."
Helayne Cohen of Birdsong Ceramics notes that her heart-shaped bowls are great for mixing, pouring, and "cooking with love." She says that her "sand and sea wares are reminiscent of the way the waves look washing over the sand at the beach. Some also have Vineyard shells popping out from under the glazes." Ms. Cohen reassures potential customers that all her pottery is safe in both microwaves and dishwashers.
Photo courtesy of Joyce Dresser
Popular watercolorist and teacher John Holladay, whose work includes cartoons, town posters, note cards, and Campground paintings, is an ideal artist for the Gift Show - he will have numerous works for sale.
Aquinnah resident Eva Weinstein, who took classes at Featherstone before volunteering at the gallery, sees the Gift Show as a means of raising interest in the art center. She has several projects in the works for this year's show. "I made children's sets of a cup and a bowl. I'm trying to make wreaths from grape vines and cedar and I'm working on paper ornaments. Otherwise, I've been doing more ceramics, with teapots and berry-bowl strainers and match holders and vases, which sold very well."
"The whole Island is working on buying local," says Ms. Weinstein. Underscoring the sentiments of many, she adds, the Gift Show is a "wonderful idea. It gives local artists a place to show."
Holiday Gift show runs Saturday, Nov. 22, through Friday, Dec. 19, daily from 12 noon to 4 pm, at Featherstone in Oak Bluffs. Preview Party for members, donors, and exhibiting artists takes place Friday, Nov. 21, 7-9 pm. 508-693-1850.
Thomas Dresser is an author and Office Manager for Featherstone.