The Menemsha Painting: A tale of two pictures

Artist Kevin Shea used his easel to capture an unexpected marriage ceremony on Dutcher Dock and provide a young couple with a very special wedding gift. — Photo by Kevin Shea

When Terri Leofsky and Mike Chervanick decided to marry in Menemsha, they planned a very private ceremony – them, the officiant, and a photographer. Rather shy and private people, they wanted it to be just the two of them. They didn’t expect to be immortalized in a painting by Kevin Shea. And they didn’t expect that one day that painting would hang on the wall in their bedroom.

Kevin Shea is a plein air artist and art teacher from Newburyport ( who is drawn to vintage scenes. He’d been unhappy with the modernization of the other New England docks that he enjoyed painting and a friend recommended Menemsha as a site that changed little over the years. So it was that Kevin was painting at Dutcher Dock on October 17. He was working in oils on a 12″ x 16″ canvas of three old fishing boats lined up at the pier, a small motor boat leaving with recreational fishermen, and a few old harbor characters hanging about. Terri and Mike posed for their wedding pictures nearby. When they finished, they passed by his easel and he stopped them.

Terri and Mike met at the University of Pittsburgh in 2002, began dating, and have been together since. He owns and operates a small company, Chevrock Property and Construction, in Reading, PA, and programs IT systems for Godiva Chocolates. She runs the OB/Gyn Residency Program for Redding Hospital. When they decided to marry, Terri had her heart set on a small destination wedding. She researched the possibilities and determined that Menemsha would be the best bet. “I wanted to be married on the beach, Terri recalls. “That’s difficult to do in Mexico and the Caribbean. I kind of stumbled upon Martha’s Vineyard and thought it was perfect. I thought it was gorgeous. We both loved it.”

“We were just getting pictures taken with Kristen (Leigh Conklin),” she continues, “and he (Kevin Shea) must have noticed us. We were walking down the dock. We had just walked past him and he grabbed Mike and caught our attention and gave us a print, telling us congratulations and giving us this little memento.”

“We were shocked,” Mike comments. “He just grabbed me and gave me the print. It was a nice gesture.”

Kevin Shea recollects, “Their approach to wedding or life, if you will, kind of complimented or went in line with the way I see things and the way I like things natural and understated. It’s not your average couple that would be there with just the photographer – and so casual, with their bare feet in the water. As they passed by my easel I said, ‘slow down there,’ and reached into my portfolio for a gift. It was a print of the harbor where they had just been standing.”

Mike’s parents are Cathy and Tom Chervanick of Leesport, PA. They sat for the young couple’s pooch while they were, as they had told them, “taking a New England vacation.” After Mike and Terri returned and confessed to the elopement, they showed the print to the senior Chervanicks.

Cathy had an inspiration. “I made a mental note of the artist’s name,” she relates. “Thanks to the internet I did a little bit of research and contacted Kevin.” She told him that she wanted to purchase a companion print as a wedding gift and did he have any suggestions?

He did. He offered to incorporate their likesnesses into the painting he had been working on when they were married. “I said, ‘Oh, my gosh, that would be beautiful,” Cathy remembers. She conferred with her husband and he agreed it would be a wonderful gift. He said, according to Cathy, that it was something that they would have for the rest of their lives. They bought the 12″ x 16″canvas with the happy couple painted in. They’re standing on the dock, off to the side – he in khakis and a blue shirt, she in a gown with a flower in her hair. They also purchased two giclee prints of the painting – one for them and the other for Terri’s parents. They presented it to the newlyweds at an early Christmas celebration on December 21. And the couple’s reaction?

“They were shocked,” Cathy relates. “They were stunned. Their mouths just dropped. I don’t think they expected anything like that.”

“We really didn’t understand what was going on,” Terri recalls. “We had already gotten a wedding gift from Mike’s parents. “It was really neat. Really amazing. It was the perfect little way to remember the day.”

“I was shocked,” Mike concurs. “It was a great gift and I think we were both extremely surprised. Usually my parents aren’t good at surprises. We were shocked that they got us and also shocked at how cool the gift was.”

“Everyone we’ve shown it to loves it,” says Terri. “Some of my friends even want to try to get prints of it.”

When it’s pointed out that they are probably the only couple in their group of friends who has a wedding painting, Mike agrees. “Yeah, I think so,” he boasts. “We were probably in the right place at the right time.”

The junior Chervanicks have recently redecorated their bedroom and a special space is reserved for the painting. Cathy hopes it will be passed on to their children and generations after that. Besides the sentimental value, she believes it holds a lesson.

“It shows that, you can make beautiful memories, start a beautiful life and not be so engrossed with the Emily Post of wedding etiquette and the thousands of dollars that are spent in the wedding industry.

“As long as you have each other, a beautiful day, a beautiful moment can be captured. And if you’re fortunate enough to have Kevin in the area, well, that makes it even more special.”