Tags Posts tagged with "Pathways"


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Island artists capture the sea.

Ann Smith, executive director of Featherstone Center for the Arts, introduced guest curator Marianne Goldberg of the Pathways Projects Institute. – Photo by Siobhan Beasley

Updated April 23

When two great art emporia join forces, the result can be truly amazing. The first emporium: Pathways, brainchild of salon doyenne Marianne Goldberg, inhabits the two-story chamber of the Chilmark Tavern throughout the winter, a place where the lights glimmer through dark forest and citadels of snow, and indoors, at least twice a week, poets read new works; musicians fiddle, plink, and blow; playwrights try out new scenes; dancers spin; filmmakers show video clips; and displayed around the high walls, newly conceived paintings and photographs fill out the final dimension of the space.

The other emporium embraces that other season, the warm one: Featherstone Center for the Arts, off Barnes Road, in operation for decades, provides a haven over its sprawling woods, cow paddocks, and flower gardens for artists of every stripe. This year, Featherstone artistic director Ann Smith received a summons from Ms. Goldberg: Why not combine forces for the latter’s annual art installation of the past five years, “Oceans Wilderness”?

A call to artists went out, soliciting sea-themed work. A total of 43 artists met the challenge, and their pieces now preside in both the Chilmark Tavern and Featherstone’s main gallery. This past Sunday marked an opening reception at Featherstone, accompanied by glorious weekend weather — still a bit chilly, but blue and gold and limned with bright sparkles — a reprieve that kept all Islanders from carpooling to the Gay Head cliffs and jumping off like lemmings.

To give an idea of the sumptuous display, here’s a pastiche of work that caught the eye of this reporter amid rolling waves of color, size, texture, and content:

A wide variety of media were on display; paintings, photographs, mixed media, ceramics, poetry, jewlery, and collage. – Photo by Siobhan Beasley
A wide variety of media were on display; paintings, photographs, mixed media, ceramics, poetry, jewlery, and collage. – Photo by Siobhan Beasley

To the right of the entrance is a diminutive acrylic by Ed Schuman, “Old Ocean Seaport,” a tiny masterpiece in tones of white and gray, of a mythic harbor as seen through a mist of snowy fog. Nearby hangs a large oil canvas by 90-year-old painter Doris Lubell: In a maelstrom of waves too big and smashing even for the most intrepid of surfers, pale shades of turquoise clash with a golden globe like a submerged sun — simply stunning.

In the main room, resting atop a white pillar, sits a carousel cutout of purple seahorses by artist and master papermaker Sandy Bernat. Celebrated Oak Bluffs painter Harry Seymour depicts, in his signature egg tempera, a father and two small sons nestled in an apricot-and-blue beach at sunset. Above and to the right, there’s a clever painting by an imminent graduate of MVRHS, James Lawson — an overhead arc of whale and an underneath mirror-arc of sea framing a V formation of dark birds.

Artist and Pathways coordinator Scott Crawford provided a photograph of a stunning “Menemsha Sunset,” and nearby are two elegant photographs of beachscapes by Alida O’Loughlin, one of a piece of driftwood the size of the Loch Ness monster that washed ashore in the nick of time for Ms. O’Loughlin to snap a shot of it.

Drew Kinsman went underwater for two striking photos, one of yellow and orange coral, another of orange bulb-shaped kelp. Also on the photography front, Laura Roosevelt is doing something wondrous with digital media. Her present piece, “Thunderbolts,” is a design of white, black, and pale green images like shimmers caught on the surface of ruffled water.

Jeffrey Canha is working with a Japanese method called gyotaku; the one at Featherstone is a study of two highly refined charcoal-gray fish. Ms. Smith explained these were dipped in a color medium and rubbed on canvas, to which a nearby viewer said, “And afterward they’re released back into the water?” Teresa Yuan and Jack Yuen — the latter graduating this June from MVRHS and considering Rhode Island School of Design — displays work side-by-side, Ms. Yuan’s an abstract of a choppy red and gray waters, Mr. Yuen’s a representation of a mythical sea nymph.

Lucinda Sheldon worked with enamel to create these seahorse pendants and this mermaid. – Photo by Siobhan Beasley
Lucinda Sheldon worked with enamel to create these seahorse pendants and this mermaid. – Photo by Siobhan Beasley

Three masterful works of clay by Francis P. Creney, all with eels and other marine creatures popping out unexpectedly, grace a corner of the main room. And in another corner lurks something fresh and new: Husband and wife artists Jerry Messman and Patricia Albee collaborated on a single work, Ms. Albee supplying an abstract quilt of turquoise-and-indigo ocean textures, Mr. Messman a sharply detailed rendering of an Island ferry at the center.

In the far porch room, a bright acrylic by Victoria Haeselbarth presents a seagull hovering over an empty red dingy on a gray-green sea. Nearby, “Saffron Sunset,” by Mark Norwood, also catches the eye.

So that’s just a sampling: A thorough viewing of the artwork is highly recommended, not forgetting that the same artists — Goldberg and Smith made certain all participants received equal exposure in both galleries — are on display in Chilmark. The Featherstone show runs through May 6, after which it gives way to the annual Flower (remember flowers?) Expo, curated by Holly Alaimo, and kicked off by the similarly traditional Fashion Show under the big tent. Pathways will keep its Oceans Wilderness on tap through April 25, Mondays through Saturdays, dark on Wednesdays, from noon to 4 pm.

At the end of the reception, Ms. Goldberg read a poem composed as a tribute to this new joint venture, and she sent this special message to The Times: “It is a special thrill to collaborate with Ann Smith in expanding Pathways fifth Annual Ocean Wilderness festival to open jointly at our Living Room Gallery in Chilmark and at Featherstone — to welcome so many artists celebrating oceans on-Island as a treasured wilderness space with a sense of sanctuary.”

Mission accomplished.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly referenced Jack Yuen and Teresa Yuan as mother and son, they are not related. It was also stated that Jack Yuen will be attending Rhode Island School of Design after graduation, he is considering the school but has not yet made a selection. 


International Women’s Day is celebrated at Chilmark Tavern.

The Yard's Jesse Keller spun and leaped to the music of Phil DaRosa. – Photo by Michael Cummo

International Women’s Day is one of those holidays that slips right past us without anyone much noticing (and it has slipped: It took place last Sunday, overshadowed by Daylight Savings, an event that leaves us dazed and grateful). But it was celebrated to a fare-thee-well at the Chilmark Tavern on Saturday night.

Anyone who lives here year-round, and who pursues the arts — either as artist or audience member or both — is aware that up in the dark and winter-icy reaches of Chilmark, the lights are on at the tavern. Two or three evenings a week, one may shuffle in from the cold, grab a glass of wine or a cup of tea, a plate of cheese and crackers, sit at one of the linen-draped tables, and be thoroughly entertained by a winter program of the arts — mixed and shaken and stirred — called Pathways.

The host and modern-day Gertrude Stein, Marianne Goldberg, chose last Saturday to celebrate International Women’s Day with the call-to-arms of “Making Art/Enacting Change.” Under the stunning high rafters of the tavern, the emcee of the event, Brit-born Natasha Taylor, read an essay that answered once and for all — or so she hoped — the question that constantly confronts her: “How Did You End Up Here?”

Ms. Taylor’s humor is of the ribald, smashing, hilarious variety, and she started off her musings with tales of her early single-mom days in London, wondering when her infants would “bugger off to college” so she could pack a suitcase and take a trip.

Next up appeared Pathways regular, the young, blithe dancer and choreographer Jesse Keller, with a short bristle mop of red hair, red leggings, and tank top, accompanied by singer and composer Phil DaRosa on acoustic guitar. Mr. DaRosa sang of lost love while Ms. Keller spun and leaped in the concise space ringed by tavern tables.

Elegant dancer Christina Montoya, her work compromised by scoliosis, produced a video of her extraordinary back — bare, feminine, muscled, embellished with a hennaed snake — as the dancer moved sinuous and slow, the camera caught between the figure and changing rays of light, with words of the artist invoking what Ms. Montoya describes as “Snake Medicine.”

Pathways founder Marianne Goldberg hosted the event, titled "Making Art/Enacting Change.” – Photo by Michael Cummo
Pathways founder Marianne Goldberg hosted the event, titled “Making Art/Enacting Change.” – Photo by Michael Cummo

Ms. Goldberg rose from her seat and invited revelers to look up — way up — to the human-length portraits hung on high and snapped by photographer Paul Lazes of half-a-dozen women artists in our midst, including Nancy Aronie of the Chilmark Writing Workshop, clad in jeans, her fists braced in benevolent attitude on her hips, and director Wendy Taucher, recognizable even covered in a heavy down jacket, cap, and dark shades.

Next up came Caroline Curry, sharing three short poems, the last about “princes” who are anything but. Susan Puicil of Cleveland House Poets shared three of her own aperçus, the most striking about childbirth: “All seams burst and you will never be the same.”

Gwyn McAllister also decanted three poems, brash and hilarious, including one about adopting a cat, as she admits outright, “I hate him,” until at last she confides, “He hates me.” Next came Sian Williams with two poems, one titled “Canned Heat,” the other, “Year-Round Island Girl,” so sharp and searing and forthright that one could hear, as she finished, a collective groan of recognition.

Singers and composers Rose Guerin and Jemima James changed up the energy as they each sang a song, swapping a single guitar. Ms. James provided a verbal prologue to her offering: A few months back she noticed a full moon which she learned had the unusual nomenclature “Beaver Moon.” She then proceeded to compose a song about it. She sings with a wise-woman voice, and her flair for words reminds those who happen to know this about her: she’s a descendant of the James family, as in William and Henry. Together Ms. James and Ms. Guerin, with a high and low vocal range, gave voice to that old mountain folksong and stern warning to young girls, to spurn that married man who offers to carry them “across the blue mountains to the Allegheny.”

Teen poet of great precociousness, Claudia Taylor read new work in which she plays with a construct of reverse words, so that girlhood changes to hood girl, shockwaves to wave shock, fireworks to work fire, and so on. As always, she impresses mightily, and we look forward to the time when we’ll be able to say we were part of the village that raised her (as did her mom, Ms. Taylor, whose other daughter, Paige, is also an emergent poet).

Musician Phil DaRosa performed throughout the evening on acoustic guitar. – Photo by Michael Cummo
Musician Phil DaRosa performed throughout the evening on acoustic guitar. – Photo by Michael Cummo

Gabriella Grecco, with a Broadway background and a passion for the music of Judy Garland, introduced her video-in-progress tracking the album, also in progress, of her singing Garland standards. Next on deck was Ellie Bates with another trio of poems, one a new take on Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” Ms. Bates contradicts the belle of Amherst with “hope is not that thing with feathers,” but we’d like to think both poets make a strong case.

Last up was musician Kim Hilliard, who led with a song that beautifully summed up the evening, “When I Was a Boy” by Dar Williams, a meditation of that time in childhood when we’re not one gender or another but simply pure being, pure awareness, a bicycle-riding, fastball-pitching child of nature.

Perhaps the most special part of the evening — even above and beyond the striking talent on display — was the fact that men made up nearly half the audience of 82 people (headcount provided by the indefatigable production manager Scott Crawford). And these weren’t poor sad sacks dragged to the event by the females on stage, but rather many of the usual suspects who turn up at Pathways on cold winter nights, sometimes themselves reading, performing, and sharing videos.

These days, with law schools and med schools packed with more girls than boys, surely all the arts draw similar demographics. The day will come when there’ll be no more need for an International Women’s Day, because all the other 364 days of the year bring men and women in equal proportions to our attention, as each in turn takes the stage.

Next at Pathways: Thursday, March 12, at 6:30 pm, “Digital Visions/Creating Realities,” and on Tuesday, March 17, at 6:30 pm, “Playwrights Read.” All events free and open to the public.

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Pathways invites poets and writers to the Chilmark Tavern to read their works. – File photo by Michael Cummo

The Open Poetry and Writing Series at Pathways continues Tuesday from 6:30 pm to 9 pm at Pathways Living Room Studios at the Chilmark Tavern. All writers are welcome to bring new work in process to share — poetry, fiction, nonfiction, essays, prose, songwriting, theater or film scripts, spoken word, and all other writing forms. This Tuesday, Shirley Mayhew and Susanna J. Sturgis will read from their books. Pathways hosts Open Poetry and Writing Evenings and special literary events each Tuesday through April. For more information, email pathwaysprojectsinstitutes@gmail.com, or call 508-645-9098.

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Island Artists meet again at off-season art hub.

Poet Lee McCormack reads from his poem "Beyond Appearances" at Pathways Projects Institute. – Photo by Angela Prout

Pathways Projects Institutes opened its season on Thursday, December 11. While the ride up South Road to the Chilmark Tavern, the winter home of Pathways Living Room Studios, was as quiet as could be expected on a chilly December evening, the packed parking lot was reminiscent of a summer night.

In its sixth season, Pathways serves as a gathering space for creativity and provides Island artists, musicians, and writers an outlet for their talents in the winter months. Founder Marianne Goldberg, an accomplished artist and former dancer, created Pathways to nourish the work of individual artists while promoting collaboration across the arts community on the Island. The program is especially welcomed this time of year, when inspiration and activity are less frequent. Ms. Goldberg has given people good reason to go to Chilmark in the winter. The lively opening event kick started the new season and showcased the recent work of the Pathways Honoraria Award recipients selected by Ms. Goldberg last year. Recipients were asked, “if you could do anything creative, even just a part of it, a little piece, what would it be?” Recipients were awarded the resources to fund a passion project of their choice and used Thursday to share their progress to date.

Photographer Peter Simon showed off the fruits of his labor, a presentation of breathtaking aerial shots from recent flights around the Island’s coast. Multimedia artist Danielle Mulcahy thanked Ms. Goldberg and exclaimed, “You sure know how to throw a party,” before sharing a two minute film which captured brilliant imagery of color and seasons on the Island. Nick Fournier, another award recipient known for his woodworking artistry, intrigued the audience with his plans for a motion-controlled time-lapse device that will allow him to better document the process of his work, starting with a new staircase he will be constructing this winter. Mr. Fournier also thanked Ms. Goldberg and expressed his gratitude for giving him the motivation and resources to bring his project to life. David White and Jesse Keller of The Yard shared their upcoming projects, including their plan for an integrated arts education program that they are hoping to bring to Island schools. Another presentation came from Richard Skidmore of the Lighthouse Poetry Project, who wowed the crowd with a showing of I Will Save You!, a book he comprised from children’s poems and drawings after visiting local schools and presenting on the importance of moving the Gay Head Lighthouse.

There was a selection of captivating readings, including two emotional ones from Nancy Aronie on the loss of her son and the tribulations of marriage, invoking both laughter and sympathy. Author Barbara Peckham also read her poems on the immenseness of the sea and the essence of time and inevitable mortality, while writer Nicki Patton explored the topic of self worth with an amusing monologue that began with her trying to exchange her life for another.  Before going into his reading “Beyond Appearances,” writer Lee McCormack reiterated the community’s appreciation for the Pathways Projects and noted that in the 43 years he has been on the Island, no venue has given artists the exposure that Pathways offers.

Music played a big role in the evening, including mother and daughter duo Chrysal and Emmanuelle Parrot who performed a breathtaking song that 11-year-old Emmanuelle had written, followed by a rendition of “House of the Rising Sun” by her mother Chrysal, which featured an African polyrhythm technique. For the final performance, pianist David Stanwood stressed the theme of collaboration by inviting outside noise into his set while he played, soliciting the accompaniment of clinking bottles, tapping, and humming.

The night concluded with a champagne toast and cake cutting to celebrate Pathways’s new year, a season that is bound to be full of even more Island talent.

For more information, visit pathwaysprojectsinstitutes.com or email pathwaysprojectsinstitutes@gmail.com.

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Don Nitchie, left, and Dan Waters both read at last week's poetry jam. — Photo by William Waterway

They pay me to write about literary matters around here so it’s been a concern for me in recent years to understand that I possess no ability to review poets or their poetry.

We are awash with both on Martha’s Vineyard, so not only do I feel inadequate but also that poets and their work are not getting a fair shake from me. Reading poetry on a printed page has been less problematic than listening to it read aloud.

I even attended a session of a poetry group a year or so ago run by Jennifer Tseng, a poet and literati at the West Tisbury Free Public Library. Figured that’s where I’ll get the grist for the reporting mill. Later, I spent a few hours reading notes, made a few gasping starts, then wrote…nothing. I had found no news to report.

Martha's Vineyard poet laureate Lee McCormack
Martha’s Vineyard poet laureate Lee McCormack

Last Thursday night, the epiphany appeared at the Poetry Jam at Pathways Center at the Chilmark Tavern. My epiphanist was old hand poet and mentor Don Nitchie, one of the evening’s featured readers. By the way: This is a gorgeous space and Pathways conductor Marian Goldberg and host Scott Crawford send up perfect ambiance for the evening. Many of the poets, experienced with far grimmer environments, expressed their delight.

This reporter cornered Mr. Nitchie between the sparkling water and the cheese tray beforehand and put the questions to him: Where does this come from, what informs you, and finally, what is your voice? Describe it. He meditated a moment, seemingly on a whole-grain cracker on the tray to his right, then delivered the bad news: “I don’t think that’s a question for me to answer. It’s a question for you to answer.”


I do not like to take direction, but I figured that if I kept doing what I’ve been doing, I’ll keep getting what I got. So my notes for the evening became my reaction to what I was hearing and feeling from seven or eight poets who read, sang, and danced, to their verses. Like reporting on yourself. An uneasy feeling.

What I came away with was that: poets are outliers, scouts. They work alone, just outside the emotional and spiritual perimeters, and report on the contours and jagged edges of the human condition. Nomans Land for most of us. And because they publicly report their own findings, called poems, they work without a net, so to speak. And the pay sucks.

So I think poets are brave to do that, though some seem to do it because they have no choice. They have got to do it. That topic is covered in Advanced Poetry 202, not here. Regardless, I believe their reports benefit you and me if we can hear them.

Here’s what I heard:

I heard Martha’s Vineyard poet laureate Lee McCormack believe that we are becoming a continually more pitiless society, that we’re on the slippery slope and that ain’t chocolate ice cream at the bottom (not his metaphor).

I heard Don Nitchie say he missed his friend Ricky Vanderhoop, a beloved Island gearhead. “I wonder who’s driving you now. I wonder where you are going.” Ricky Vanderhoop passed six months ago after slugging it out with cancer for a long time. Mr. Nitchie’s words flashed me back to the “time” they had for Ricky in Aquinnah, his brother sobbing in the kitchen and how you could literally feel the community fiercing around that family.

I heard a woman tell her lover in some detail how she experienced him in their lovemaking. When she finished, she said: “As I reread this poem, the thought occurred to me that this was written for a woman. Maybe I wish he had written it for me?” Who admits stuff like that? Poets.

I heard good ole’ jocular Dan Waters choke up a little when he finished a song poem about Nancy Luce, West Tisbury poet and eccentric of note whose only good relationships were with her chickens and so she was shunned. Nancy Luce has been dead for more than 120 years. Who would still grieve? A poet.

And I learned that if you let go, you get who they are: Ellie Bates’s orderly rhythmics; Sian Williams, droll and whimsical but with a sharp point; William Waterway’s gymnastics in making himself the audience and the audience the performers; Cristina Montoya’s dance poem “I Got This Thing” celebrating womanhood, and its flip side, in our world; Martin Vogel’s hilarious and sad viewing of “The Story of O” with his mom.

After the Pathways event, possessed now of an expanded consciousness, I looked up how the pros handle poetry reviewing and instantly felt better. Sharp people, poetically-savvy people, at least, are all over the lot on the role of reviews and reviewers.

So here’s the deal for me. I learned how to listen a little on Thursday night and I liked it. Feels like you changed the air filter in your head. I’m going to listen to more poetry and if the spirits moves me, I’ll write it down.

Try some poetry yourself. I’m not kidding about the air filter.

Readings of new work by Fan Ogilvie and Justen Ahren, followed by an open Poetry Jam, Tuesday, April 8, 6:30–9 pm, Pathways, Chilmark Tavern. Free. For more information, email pathwaysprojectsinstitutes@gmail.com.