It’s been a “Game of Thrones” season — in terms of drama — for the Pathways Arts Institute, which inhabits the Chilmark Tavern each winter from December through mid-April. Imagine a visitor’s first time: One drives the impossibly dark and twisting State Road, past the hopeful scattered lights of West Tisbury, gazing with a shudder at forests so dark that only fireflies could make an ephemeral difference, and then suddenly there is shelter. One enters to find candlelit tables with white cloths, a sparkling bar with drinks and nibbles, and dancers, poets, musicians, writers, and filmmakers presenting their latest works-in-progress.
Every circle of artists needs an inspirational figure at its center, and the deeply generous choreographer from Manhattan and Chilmark, Marianne Goldberg, served that role for many years. She died this past December on the winter solstice: a fitting date for this boundless lover of nature.
And yet the show must go on. Ms. Goldberg addressed that in her legacy. Pathways was her baby in every sense of the term. Her two consiglieres, Keren Tonnesen and Scott Crawford, carried on with the twice-or-thrice weekly events until the finale this past Saturday night. The plan is to continue into the foreseeable future.
“After she passed away, none of us knew what would happen next with Pathways,” composer Dean Rosenthal, on hand last Saturday night, wrote to me later in an email. “Would Pathways continue? Under a lucky star and the essential leadership of Scott and Keren, it has. Onward to 2017.”
This last gathering was what the Italians call un po’ di tutti — a bit of everything. Matt Edey on piano and Dana Edelman on guitar played a set of cool jazz, inspiring the Indian-flute player Carole Vandal to let loose in the front row with a basso scat of “boogy-oogy-woogy Pathways” that brought the house to its feet. Dancer and choreographer Jesse Keller, who has always been a genius at decanting her large and flamboyant moves in the improbably small space of the tavern, performed to the versatile chords of pianist Michael Wooley. She also spoke of the support from Ms. Goldberg that helped her to grow her work. “She taught me to see dance everywhere,” Ms. Keller said. “I also finally figured out why she brought more and more orange to her productions of ‘Unfurled.’ A few nights after Marianne passed away, I sat on a rock by the sea, and a vivid orange sunset spread out before me. I said out loud, ‘Thank you, Marianne.’”
Multimedia artist Danielle Mulcahy debuted her music video commissioned by pop singer Eric Hutchinson, using stop-motion animation with cut-out pictures, and visuals with Yard dancers Leah Crosby and Benjamin Cheney.
The audience was knocked into thrilled insensibility by steel mandolin player and singer Charles Giordano, and guitarist and singer Dana Edelman. Both instruments were electric, and the songs ranged from hillbilly to a tune from the old Scotch-Irish vintage trunk, to the doleful folk strains of “Shady Grove,” with singer Anthony Esposito joining to add depth and harmony.
During intermission, all the usual suspects had time to catch up with one another. Anna Edey cut off her long and fabled silver braids on December 17, while poet Sian Rebecca Williams (who read three terrific new poems) had chopped off her dark tresses in January. Actually, there was little time to chitchat with the multitude of fun and brilliant and loony folks who’ve all come to know one another across the dimly lit tavern during winters past. But it was pleasant to spot them all across the crowded room, and to be reminded of how varied and talented this Island population happens to be.
For the second act, the stage was taken up in turn by ocean swimmer/teacher and writer Bob McLean, guitarist Rob Lytle, Martha Flanders who spoke extemporaneously about Ms. Goldberg’s ability to inspire: “Even the sky wasn’t the limit for her.” Columnist and artist Valerie Sonnenthal read an interview she’d conducted with Ms. Goldberg for an upcoming issue of Arts & Ideas Magazine, and Richard Skidmore aired a short video about his ongoing collaboration with Ms. Goldberg. Champagne and cake was brought out, and although Ms. Goldberg is no longer with us, she will always be with us there at the gathering space, for as long as it provides a roof and a microphone.