Galleries : From functional to fabulous
Vineyard artists don't just confine their work to paintings that hang on a wall. Some put their imaginations to work turning tables, chairs, beds, and other furniture into practical pieces of art. Six such artists are Edgartown's Margot Datz, West Tisbury's Laura Silber, Jeff Entner and Terry Crimmen, and Ted Box and Edward Hewett of Vineyard Haven.
Furniture painting often includes collaboration with woodworkers. Ms. Datz depends on West Tisbury cabinetmaker Ivory Littlefield, working from her sketches to produce cabinets and settees that she paints to take on the appearance of other objects - lace clothes or whatever else catches her fancy - with trompe-de-l'oeil surfaces.
Ms. Datz, who usually works on commission, also designed and painted a Bavarian-style, built-in box bed in bright shades of red, green, and white. For the lace-covered table she designed, Mr. Littlefield carved folds of fabric that a viewer may need to touch to determine whether it's wood or lace hanging down from the edge of the table.
"I'm an octopus," Ms. Datz says. "I can paint in any style, any period, or combine painting with sculpture." She has painted murals for 30 years (Vineyard Haven Steamship terminal, Oak Bluffs children's library), illustrated children's books, and wrote and illustrated "A Survival Guide for Landlocked Mermaids" for Simon & Schuster. Her most recent project is creating mini-mosaics of virtues like ingenuity, humor, and flexibility on the staircase risers for the Decorator Show House and Gardens, a benefit for Habitat for Humanity of Martha's Vineyard.
Reclaimed Island wood provides the inspiration for the furniture Laura Silber makes, paints, and turns into unique works of folk art. Each piece of furniture and cabinetry is unique, evolving out of the materials Ms. Silber makes and finds, leaving their original patinas and textures intact.
She collects scrap wood from demolition projects, felled trees, and even shipping pallets. Her mix and match hardware is all salvaged, and she sells virtually every piece she builds, either by word of mouth or at the Memorial Day and Labor Day Artisan's Festivals.
"It's a very Vineyardy look," Ms. Silber says of her pieces. A chef by training who once worked as the head pastry chef at l'etoile in Edgartown, she started making furniture out of the scraps of lumber left over from the house off Lambert's Cove Road she built herself, with help from Ralph Braun. Friends began buying her work, and by 1999, her business, Demolition Revival Furniture, came into being.