Featherstone features artists on artists

Artist Liz Floyd views photographs and interviews on display in the Pebble Gallery at Featherstone. — Photo by Michael Cummo

You can always expect to find a bunch of artists hanging around Featherstone, teaching classes or showing their work. But for the next week, you’ll find a group of artists whose portraits — instead of their work — are the focus of a new show. The show of photographs, curated by Vineyard psychologist Jane Dreeben, will hang at the Pebble Gallery through Sunday, Sept. 28. It features Vineyarders involved in different creative endeavors, from painting and sculpture to dance, music, architecture, and even hairstyling.

For an even more up-close and personal introduction to some of the Island’s artists, Featherstone will be hosting its fourth annual Artist’s Studio Tour on Saturday, Sept. 27. Guests will have the chance to visit 15 different Vineyard artists at work in their studios all around the Island.

The event is a self-guided tour where guests are given info about the artists and a map to the various workplaces. They are invited to visit any or all of the studios at their leisure throughout the day. It’s a great chance to have an intimate glimpse into the artistic process, view the participants’ new work, discuss their processes, and maybe even purchase a work directly from the artist.

The studio visits offer far more than a glimpse of an artist absorbed in work at an easel. Among the participants this year are fiber artists, a ceramicist, a sculptor, and two women who use elements of nature in their work: Peggy Zablotny, whose medium is botanicals, and Kathy Poehler, who gets creative with seaweed. The tour offers a great opportunity to learn about materials and technique, as well as witness the creation process.

“You get to see all their books and libraries,” says Featherstone director Ann Smith. “And how they store their paints and textiles and other materials.” Ms. Smith adds that some of the studios themselves reflect the artistic nature of their occupants, and a number are situated on beautiful properties with stunning views.

While four of the artists are returnees from past years, 11 are new to the artist tour. Some, like Wendy Weldon and Rez Williams, will be well-known to Vineyarders, while a number of relative newcomers are among those happy to open their most personal space to the public. “They’re all very personable,” says Ms. Smith. “Everyone serves lemonade or cookies.”

Those who had a chance to witness the impressive all-day cast iron demonstration at Featherstone last weekend may be interested in checking out the workplaces of ceramicist Sharry Stevens-Grunden, or sculptor Heather Sommers, who works primarily in stone. Others will appreciate the fascinating array of objects that find their way into the work of mixed-media artists Genevieve Jacobs and Roberta Gross.

Tickets are just $30, and all proceeds benefit the nonprofit Featherstone Center.

If you’re not prepared to drive around the Island to get a glimpse of the people behind the artistry, Ms. Dreeben’s exhibit will offer an intimate look at some Islanders expressing themselves in front of the lens of some equally creative individuals.

Ms. Dreeben recruited six young Vineyarders to assist with the project. She interviewed a selection of subjects and then asked her team of young photographers to shoot them in a setting or pose that would give a sense of the individual. “I tried to have each of the photographers express something about that person’s creative self,” says Ms. Dreeben. The results are very creative. Some of them are fairly straightforward depictions of the subjects at work, but most show the artists at other locations, expressing their creativity in other manners. All give a real sense of the subject, and are good examples of some emerging Island talent in the field of photography.

The subjects were hand-selected by Ms. Dreeben. “I chose them through my personal response to their work,” she said. “I’ve been picking people whose work I admire or that has elicited some response in me.”

“I got interested in the project because there are so many amazing creative people here,” Ms. Dreeben said. “What I wanted to show was the diversity of the artists on the Vineyard. I got interested in both their creative lives and how they got interested in what they do, how they do it, and their relationships with the Island.”

The mini-bios are revealing introductions to the various personalities depicted. Ms. Dreeben hopes to host another show of the photos next spring, and she plans to eventually turn the project into a book.

For more information on the exhibit and studio tour, visit featherstoneart.org.