Whimsical Vineyard outdoor sculpture is always a surprising find

This cyclist flying from the handlebar of a bike mounted on the top of a stone wall in Chilmark  is characteristic of much of Jay Lagemann’s work.
Photo courtesy of Jay Lagemann

This cyclist flying from the handlebar of a bike mounted on the top of a stone wall in Chilmark is characteristic of much of Jay Lagemann’s work.

Whimsical describes much of the outdoor sculpture seen around the Martha’s Vineyard landscape. That could be rooted in the vacation ambiance of Vineyard life, or it may follow the influence of the late Tom Maley of West Tisbury, who set the whimsy bar pretty high when he turned the yard next to his Field Gallery into a garden of exaggerated figures eternally frolicking.

Active practitioners of the whimsical form include Bill O’Callaghan, who has applied his potter’s skills to creating tiny creatures who inhabit fairy tale castles and tree houses, and minstrels and other figures who look as though they walked out of medieval morality plays.

Jay Lagemann has created a volume of work out of steel and composites that ranges from his iconic swordfisherman in Menemsha to adults and children riding bikes, dancing and swinging each other in circles.

Barney Zeitz and Ben Cabot are among artists producing sculpture of a more introspective nature.

Mr. Cabot’s signature pieces are images of birds that morph from atop posts of granite like stone phoenixes. Mr. Zeitz’s work transfigures metal, often stainless steel, into angst-embedded pieces that offer a route to transcendence, like his Vietnam War memorial piece outside the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services building. The inscription reads, “This memorial represents the healing spirit of all those affected by the trauma of war.”

Lew French works mostly in granite. His abstract pieces have their roots clearly in his stonemason skills.

Anthony Holand of Tuck and Holand Metal Sculptors turns copper and other metals into weathervanes. He fashions his work from traditional story ideas, personal requests and business logos. His weathervanes spin on the peaks of Vineyard roofs as well as houses, offices and schools off-Island.