Kicking off 2015 with style

Martha’s Vineyard artists and gallery owners share their New Year’s Eve rituals.

Photo by Gwyn McAllister

– Some folks like to usher in the New Year with parties and lots of friends. Others opt for a quiet evening at home. The Times caught up with a variety of artists and other creative types to see what they had planned and what significance the New Year holds for them personally.

Choreographer/producer/director Wendy Taucher of Wendy Taucher Dance Opera Theater has been getting together with a group of other theater people for decades. She and a group of old friends gather every Friday in New York (when she’s in town) and they will celebrate New Year’s Eve together. “Some people hang out like family,” she said. “Some walk to Central Park for fireworks. It’s kind of like urban family night. It’s anti super-celebration, but those who want to do something special can. It’s like a bunch of cousins getting together. We show up at this one place in Times Square. It’s a bunch of theater folks — old, old friends — 30-year friendships. All stories are welcome.”

Gallery owner/stylist/style icon Mikel Hunter also gets together with a group of old friends every year. “We always go to Sarasota for New Year’s,” he said. “It’s a fun way to ring in the New Year with friends. It’s really our core group of people with a strong Vineyard connection who will be down there. I think New Year’s is really about friends and reflection.”

Photographer/gallery owner Peter Simon is planning a fairly laid-back New Year’s Eve. “I’m going to Pathways for an early New Year’s Eve bash,”: he said. “I look forward to that. It gives me something special to do. At this point in my life, I don’t want to revel around Oak Bluffs. I’ve done the fireworks at the Harbor View. I’ll probably watch a movie with Ronni [Peter’s wife – artist/jeweler Ronni Simon]. Ronni’s a member of the Writer’s Guild. She gets the screeners for the Academy Awards. We’ve got all the top-line Hollywood releases. We’ll pick a movie and curl up and watch.

“New Year’s is the last of the trifecta of the holidays. I feel it’s a time to get off to a fresh start. I have a chance to reflect on what I want to do with the next year. I always want to reinvent myself in some way. Leading up to the holidays it’s a countdown. The way the media handles these holidays is too much. I’m glad to be getting back to a normal way of life again.”

Artist Washington Ledesma likes to plan ahead for a new project or initiative rather than try to put a resolution into effect immediately. “I do an inspection of what activity I’m interested in doing,” he said. “One of the things I have learned in all these years living on this planet is that if I start one week — or one month — before doing the things that I planned it works out better. It gives you a chance to look inside at what you’re doing and program it. Years ago, I used to make proposals to myself. Finally I realized that I spent a lot of time not doing what I had planned. The older you get, you get a little more wise.”

One thing that Mr. Ledesma has been contemplating for years is getting a bunch of artists on the Island together to present a puppet parade like one he once enjoyed watching at First Night in Boston and a traditional parade he attended as a kid in Uruguay. “I’ll probably start talking to other artists this year,” he said.

Musician/artist Kate Taylor’s plans are driven by music. She’s going to Atria specifically to see Johnny Hoy. “For me New Year’s feels like a fresh start and a hopeful time,” she said.

Designer and boutique owner Stina Sayre will also be celebrating in style. “I’m going out dancing with my husband,” she said. “Something we should do every year. What I like about New Years is that you’re starting to see that it’s getting a little lighter out every day. We’re moving forward.”

Singer/actor/director Taffy McCarthy will be performing music for the Windermere residents on New Year’s Day, something she does every year.

Photographer/gallery owner Louisa Gould also has a very Vineyard New Year’s tradition. “We always take a few friends out to the beach in our 4-wheel drive. We toast the New Year, crank the tunes and dance on the beach at the midnight hour. I love the ocean and what better way to bring in the New Year, Vineyard style?”

Ms. Gould, whose Main Street, Vineyard Haven gallery is open year-round, takes advantage of the quieter months of winter to focus on her artistic ventures. “New Year’s for me as an artist is a time to begin thinking and creating for the next season,” she said. “Although summer is months away, I need to have most of my own artwork created by the end of March in order to prepare all the other artists and their work for the season. The gallery is open year-round, albeit only on Saturdays and by appointment from January to March. I find it is a vital way to stay connected with the community, especially in the more year-round town of Vineyard Haven and it provides for longer discussions and quality time with clients.”

Holly Alaimo, former gallery owner, generally saves her celebrating for New Years Day. “New Year’s Day is my birthday and also my parents’ anniversary,” she said. “The thing I don’t like about it is that everyone’s hung over after New Year’s Eve. This year, my sister is coming up from Pennsylvania. It’s really great having her here. John (musician John Alaimo, Holly’s husband) is playing at a private party at the Yacht Club on New Year’s Eve. We’ll celebrate on New Year’s Day. It’s a new year in two ways for me. I like the idea of a new beginning. It doesn’t have to be about any kind of resolution. Just knowing that you can start again.”

Artist Mark Zeender has a suggestion for what to look for 2015. “I hope third-rate, cynical, and easy art is out; and art made with a profound conscience, hard work and a longing for perfection is in,” he said. “In 2015, people should go out of their way to find two local artists — Joan Walsh and Tim Vitalis, both are too modest and so talented.”