Art of Flowers at Featherstone

Holly Alaimo brought her years of experience to curate the Featherstone art show.
File photo by Susan Safford

Holly Alaimo brought her years of experience to curate the Featherstone art show.

The subject was flowers, and the petalers were out in force this past weekend when Featherstone Center for the Arts opened its Arts & Flowers Garden Tea Party & Fashion Show.” The rollicking fashion show on Saturday, produced by Marla Blakey, had Islanders of all sizes and ages modeling wearable art and clothing from Vineyard stores and designers, and was pronounced a rousing success. It was followed with Sunday’s opening of “Art of Flowers,” a show that will run through May 19. Filled to overflowing, the gallery was an animated and festive scene on Sunday with clustered reunions taking place, John Alaimo playing tunes on the keyboard, artists comparing styles and techniques, and supporters of Featherstone voicing their enthusiastic approval of the colorful wall-to-wall display. More than 40 artists including Ellen McClusky, Allen Whiting, John Holladay, Judith Campbell, and Leslie Baker, contributed their painted and photographed interpretations and renderings of flowers. From Paulette Hayes’s “Desert Blooming,” a softly hued multi-media design on rust-dyed fabric whose subtle texture was embellished with stitching, to Gail Tipton’s dramatically photographed close up of unfurling white petals; from Fae Kontje’s folk-style “Sudden Color,” to Virginia Gosselin’s Prisma color pencil still life, “China Pinks,” it is a representation of well executed individualism and creative craftmanship. The vases of flowers prepared for sale ($5 for one; $20 for five) by Featherstone board member Patsy McCornack and her sister, ceramicist Kim Cutler were scattered around the room and being coveted by many. The show — lively and fun from beginning to end — was curated by the indefatigable Holly Alaimo, former owner of Dragonfly Gallery in the Dukes County Arts District, where she traditionally opened her season on Mother’s Day with a non-juried flower-themed show. This year she will be at the new Carol Craven Gallery on State Road in West Tisbury, but with encouragement from Don McKillop and his wife Susan Davy, Dragonfly Gallery’s new owners, and an invitation from Francine Kelly, Featherstone’s director, Ms. Alaimo brought the show to Featherstone. “Francine called and ask me to curate a show, and I said, ‘You bet,’ Ms. Alaimo said. “I felt as if I was in my old space, and it was so pleasant. I’ve really missed being around fine art.” She laughed as she described hanging the show: “I hang one wall, then I hang another wall, and then I say, ‘No,’ and I mix them up again,” along with artists affiliated with Featherstone, commenting that many show at galleries that haven’t opened yet, and this gives them a chance to have their work seen. Painter John Holladay, a skilled gardner himself who shows at Louisa Gould’s Main Street Vineyard Haven gallery, contributed vibrant images of zinnias and daisies to the show, and explained the shift in his style: “I’ve been adding abstraction to realism and I want people to ‘feel’ the brushstrokes.”Ms. Kelly said she hopes the show will become a Featherstone tradition. “I’m really pleased to do it. It’s great working with Holly. We’ve had huge crowds at both the fashion show and the opening.”And Susan Davy of Dragonfly Gallery (opening May 24), whose art was displayed in the show, said, “Don and I are so happy Francine moved the show here. It’s a perfect venue. We had Francine and her daughter Ann over, and said, ‘We really, really believe the flower show belongs at Featherstone.’ We keep shaking our heads and saying , ‘Look at all the wonderful things they can do. Their mission is community arts center.’ I don’t think Francine appreciates as much as we do that she decided to bring it here.””After a whole winter of being in our studios it’s time to emerge from our cocoons and see each other,” Leslie Baker said. “I think we’re all ready to get together.” A staunch supporter of Featherstone, Ms. Baker, who’s preparing for her “Shades of Gray,” show in July at the Shaw Cramer Gallery, said, “I think being able to participate in a show that includes many artists around the Island is wonderful. I think it’s an important part of being part of the community on the Island. I like participating in anything that Featherstone does.” Looking around, Ms. Alaimo smiled and said, “The whole point is to engage the entire community.” “The Art of Flowers” at Featherstone Center for the Arts off Barnes Road, Oak Bluffs, runs from May 9 through May 19, 12 noon to 4 pm daily. Free admission. 508-693-1850.

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