It's no secret that the Vineyard is a haven for artists and people with creative talents. Many establish traditional careers while they continue pursuing creative expression, which reaffirms the benefits of Island living and reminds us not to sum each other up by either their briefcase or brush.
Scott Terry makes his living from May through October working as a commercial rod and reel fisherman and, during the fall and winter months, by creating masterfully executed representational paintings in pastels and oils. He is successful at both. "These days it's hard to do either exclusively and make a living," he says. "I do pretty well as an artist, but I need the fishing."
Photo by Ralph Stewart
The Rhode Island native became a commercial fisherman 30 years ago when he was studying painting at the Swain School of Design in New Bedford. He continued both after graduation, moving to the Vineyard in 1978 and eventually becoming a regular exhibitor at the Granary Gallery in West Tisbury. Mr. Terry now makes his home in Cotuit, although he maintains a studio in West Tisbury.
"Early morning and evening are very important in my paintings, and fishing gets me outside during those times," Mr. Terry says. "I get a lot of my ideas for painting when I'm fishing. It's a great way to be out on the water and make money."
Although he often finds inspiration while at sea, Mr. Terry works exclusively at one occupation at a time. "Commercial fishing is so exhausting that even if I wanted to paint on my days off, I need to sleep," he says.
In the off-season, he sets an equally grueling work schedule for himself, painting seven days a week up to 10 hours a day. Over the winter he will produce close to 100 works in oils, pastels, and pencil.
The solitary nature of both his occupations agrees with him: "I like working on my own," he says, "I'm very happy doing what I'm doing."
Photo by M.C. Wallo
For almost 40 years, Sumner Silverman of Tisbury has divided his time between a private clinical psychology practice and jewelry making. It has proved to be a well-suited combination.
"I work mostly with people in the arts - performers, academics, people in media," Mr. Silverman says. "From the beginning of my psychotherapy career, I knew that I could relate comfortably to creative passion. The creative individual has some unique issues that require unique solutions."
As a jeweler, Mr. Silverman is currently working on a series of orchids molded in silver, and carved from mastodon tusk or amber. Some of his pieces, which are sold online (orchid-jewelry.com), were in the orchid show in Falmouth earlier this month. He has won a number of awards for his jewelry.
Mr. Silverman says that the process of focused carving helps him to de-stress: "It's more than relaxing. It's a place of deep meditation. I can sit down with this and the world around me disappears."
Photo by Ben Scott
Musician, politician, and landscaper Tristan Israel has been playing music since he was a boy. He took some courses at Berklee School of Music in Boston, and became immersed in the folk music in the 60s and 70s. With his brother, Ronnie, he formed a band called the Penciltappers and spent a few years performing around the Cambridge and Boston area.
Moving to the Vineyard in the 70s, he developed his business as a landscaper, and performed at the Wintertide in Vineyard Haven, and other venues. He's now in the process of working on his second CD, and performing every Friday night at the Wharf in Edgartown with Paul Thurlow.
And then, politics. "I started to wonder what makes things on a local level tick," says Mr. Israel. "Who are the people who are affecting our lives? From there, I decided I wanted to get involved."
Mr. Israel has served as a Tisbury town selectman for 21 years, and as a county commissioner for two. "People need to understand that they can affect change in their community," he says. "I've been trying to get some programs at the high school set up to teach kids that it's really not that hard to be empowered on a local level. I love the idea of giving back to the community. If I could play music all day long, I'd still want to work in government."
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Most people know Dr. Gerry Yukevich as a respected Island physician. However, the doctor also has an impressive resume when it comes to the arts. He is involved in the Vineyard Playhouse as an actor, a playwright, a longtime Playhouse board member, and its current president.
In college, he was part of a singing group and wrote and performed sketch comedy. While completing his medical residency, he wrote poetry and plays, then founded a theater at his home in Roslindale. "We presented European farces in original languages, as well as original works with a group of actors who were otherwise professionally employed," says Dr. Yukevich.
And along the way, the doctor wrote two books: "Intimate with a Savage," the story of a patient he became friends with in Boston; and "Cruise Ship Doctor," a comic novel based on his own experiences.
Currently he is working on a screenplay and a novel and is planning on opening a theater in the basement of his Vineyard Haven home.
"At the same time, the amount I've learned working with patients is very rewarding in a different way," Dr. Yukevich says. "I don't think I could find a better way to be in touch with human suffering and delight, or be exposed so fully to personalities, to families facing challenges. Those experiences give me a great deal of dignity and meaning in my life."
Of his creative side, Dr. Yukevich says, "Art is what lasts when civilization dies and it's what gives dignity to a civilization while it's alive. Martha's Vineyard really benefits from what the artist community does and I'm proud to be a part of that community."
Oak Bluffs resident Gwyn McAllister is a regular contributor to The Martha's Vineyard Times.