Sculpture, scrimshaw, scenes from the past
For art lovers, history buffs, or fans of vintage photographs, the Martha's Vineyard Museum (MVM) in Edgartown will offer a preview of three new exhibits this Friday evening that will most likely suit your interests. On display will be the haunting sculptures of Stella Waitzkin; a selection of the museum's extraordinary collection of historical scrimshaw; and recently discovered glass plate photographic images of Oak Bluffs from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The opening reception, from 5:30 to 7 pm at the MVM Summer Gallery, marks the seasonal reopening of the 18th-century Cooke House (c. 1740), with its 11 rooms showcasing the history of the Cooke family, and artifacts from the Vineyard's past.
The summer exhibits will be on display through October 20, 2009.
Ms. Waitzkin began her work in the 1950s as an abstract-expressionist painter, a student of Hans Hofmann and Willem de Kooning in New York. She became a part-time resident of Music Street in West Tisbury, when the toxic and flammable sculptures she created in her Chelsea Hotel apartment drew complaints from her neighbors. Ms. Waitzkin, who died in 2003, divided her time between the Island and her one-bedroom apartment in New York City, which once served as a gathering place for iconic painters, musicians and poets of her generation.
Regarded as eccentric and somewhat reclusive in her later years, she is best remembered for her haunting sculptural books, cast in colorful translucent polyester resin from vintage leather-bound volumes. Her books, always without text, appear as individual works and as elements of larger installations such as small bookcases or entire library walls, often mixed with other objects including real books as well as other cast objects.
According to Amy Houghton, MVM's director of development, Ms. Waitzkin's work will be displayed in a re-creation of her New York apartment. The exhibit is a collaboration of the Waitzkin Memorial Library Trust and the Martha's Vineyard Museum, sponsored in part by the Rotary of Martha's Vineyard.