Pathways honors the ocean at IMAGINE ARTS festival

"Magick" by Christopher Wright. — Photo by Christopher Wright

For the culmination of their winter-long programming, the month of April at Pathways at the Chilmark Tavern is devoted to the second annual IMAGINE ARTS Festival.

According to press materials, “Pathways 2014 IMAGINE ARTS Festival is a month long celebration of imagination, wit and visionary creativity throughout our community.” Many of the events this year will revolve around the theme of the ocean and “treasured places.”

“Many artists and writers are drawn to Martha’s Vineyard because of beloved ocean coastal places here and the creative force they inspire,” said Pathways founder/director Marianne Goldberg.

Three upcoming events in particular will focus on the theme. On April 16, Pathways hosts a screening of the film “Ocean Frontiers II: A New England Story for Sustaining the Sea,” followed by a discussion, and ocean poetry by Bob McLean.

During the next couple of weeks, the Pathways team will bring the ocean to life in the Chilmark Tavern space. The visuals, the motion, and even the sounds of the ocean will be represented.

On Tuesday, April 15, audience members will get a taste of what’s to come at the festival’s culminating Oceans Wilderness event of the season on April 24. See an excerpt from an ocean-inspired dance performed by Jesse Keller, accompanied by William Waterway on the flute; poetry; artwork; and the introduction of an ocean bells sound installation.

At the main event on April 24, Ms. Goldberg will present newly expanded choreography for “UNFURLING,” a piece she has been creating for Oceans Wilderness evenings over the past two years. She will also perform poetry set to music. “‘UNFURLING’ explores an experience of inhabiting ocean aqua-terrestrial terrain at cliff’s edge,” Ms. Goldberg said, “with changing circumstances of wind, bluff, wave, flight, sand, and extraordinary light.” The dance will incorporate a photographic backdrop of Ms. Goldberg’s ocean landscapes photographs.

A visual art installation includes oceanscapes by Island artist Marston Clough and a digital projection by Jon Baer. Images of the ocean will surround the room, projected on the walls and ceilings. “The effect of the projections are to realize my vision of a liquid oceans space across the gallery,” said Ms. Goldberg. Richard Skidmore and Graham Smith will also contribute digital art installations.

Adding to the full immersion experience will be another imaginative element. The sounds of the ocean will be recreated through the use of a series of bells tuned to emulate the tolling of actual buoy bells. Ms. Goldberg was able to secure these bells from a former lobster fisherman in Maine who recreated the ringing of various Maine buoys in a series of wind chimes. The bells will be featured at the April 15 event, played improv-style by the audience.

On April 24, Dean Rosenthal will present a composition on the bells written specifically to incorporate the various tones. “I wanted to see if we could create an interior shoreline within the Pathways space,” Ms. Goldberg said. “The liquid oceans moving imagery filling pillars, walls and ceilings; the buoy bell soundings set off by audience walking and greeting one another; and the ocean photography illuminating the dance as a horizon beyond.”

The inspiration behind the installation is a desire of Ms. Goldberg’s to start a conversation about ocean preservation.

“Many communities in beautiful locations have successfully established ocean sanctuaries that project and enliven their coastal areas,” she said, mentioning St. John and the Florida Keys. “Here on Island thankfully the Land Bank encourages land conservation, as historical interests preserve landmark buildings. Oceans have not yet received the same kind of protection. I hope that as artists and writers who treasure the ocean here, we can initiate an ocean sanctuary for Martha’s Vineyard approached in another way — as a space of tremendous beauty and regeneration that will survive and thrive, to inspire us for many generations.”

Following the collaborative arts ensemble performance, Ms. Goldberg will invite the community to talk about the possibility of establishing an ocean sanctuary on the Vineyard.

“If the oceans here did not maintain vitality, much of the work I and other artists create would not happen,” she continued. “It’s the reason I moved here and travel back and forth from New York City. I do very much miss the West Village [her other home] so I created Pathways.”

The arts initiative has brought a cosmopolitan arts scene vibe to the Vineyard for the past seven years.

Ms. Goldberg, like many transplants to the Vineyard, has found inspiration that is unique to Island communities. “So many of us look to the ocean for regeneration,” she said. “I think it’s important to actively imagine what we want to protect and realize this together.”

Oceans Wilderness: Group art installation opening, Tuesday, April 15, 6:30–9:30 pm, Pathways (Chilmark Tavern). Show runs 11 am–4 pm daily through April 27. For more information, email