The first Vineyard Haven Harbor Cultural District Saturday Stroll was a big success. Pedestrian traffic kept Main Street hopping during the early evening hours, checking out sales and refreshments at local stores, stopping into art galleries, and enjoying street entertainment. The cultural district extends from the Vineyard Haven Public Library to the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard.
The weekly event is a cooperative initiative sponsored jointly by the Vineyard Haven Harbor Cultural District, the Vineyard Haven Business Association, and the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce. Co-chair of the committee MJ Bruder Munafo says, “The strolls are intended to highlight the cultural district and the retail businesses in the district. We’re all hoping it will grow into something really fun.” All of the participating businesses contacted agreed that the kickoff was very successful, and a sign of good things to come.
The cultural district was officially designated in May 2014, and the Saturday Stroll initiative has been in discussions since last summer. The Island currently has two state-designated cultural districts — Aquinnah Circle was the second to be approved. Other towns are currently in the process of seeking designation.
The kickoff Saturday Stroll featured busker stops, a henna stand outside Citrine, three separate gallery openings, the introduction of a new gallery, and a 50th anniversary bash at CB Stark’s jewelry store.
Mark Lovewell performed sea shanties in front of the Bunch of Grapes, while Alyssa Cimino played guitar and sang in front of the Mansion House. The park next to CB Stark featured lively dance music. People wandered into shops to find specials and refreshments. At Rainy Day, kids were treated to gift bags, while adults could sample goodies and enjoy discounts on specific products. The shop will be offering different discounts and delectable refreshments each week.
The Louisa Gould Gallery attracted a good crowd with the opening of her first show of the summer season, a Memorial Day group show featuring a selection of new work. The gallery offered wine, nibbles, and live music by Michael Haydn.
The Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse was also hosting a reception for the latest show hanging in its Art Space Gallery. The featured artist is Leslie Baker, whose color-block abstract expressionist paintings brighten up the walls appropriately, especially given the “colorful” nature of the playhouse’s current production “High Time,” set during the acid-fueled 1960s.
At Kennedy Studios, photographer Michael Blanchard was greeting guests and signing copies of his book “Fighting for My Life” and his 2016 “Vineyard Serenity” calendar.
Other galleries who participated in the stroll were the Night Heron Gallery and the Peter Simon Gallery, where Ronni Simon is displaying a number of her unique beaded wall hangings, including her latest large-scale sculptural piece.
Along the harbor, the Workshop Studio and Gallery hosted an opening featuring work by Terry Crimmen, Dave Tierney, Lauren Coggins-Tuttle, Dan VanLandingham, Dino DeNaples, Jenn Bell, and Russ Noto.
A hub of activity could be found at CB Stark. The landmark jewelry store was hosting a celebration of a half-decade in business with dance music by saxophonist Nicholas Arons, a giant birthday cake, and other refreshments. The party also featured the introduction of
CB Stark’s latest creations: four new charms, a line of jewelry based on the intricately detailed ship’s wheel from the C.W. Morgan, and a spectacular 50th anniversary pavé diamond necklace in the shape of the Island. Each of the CB Stark stores will be hosting fully catered anniversary parties this summer (July 21 in Vineyard Haven, August 11 in Edgartown).
CB Starks’ brand-new next-door neighbors, the Behnke Doherty Gallery, enjoyed a festive welcome to the business district with crowds dropping in to check out their vast selection of American and Asian fine art.
The Vineyard Haven Harbor Cultural District Saturday Strolls will continue from 5 to 7 pm every week through Labor Day weekend. Currently, the committee is seeking musicians to perform throughout the summer at four separate busker stops (groups of up to three playing unamplified music only). Those interested should contact the Vineyard Playhouse at 508-696-6300.