The National Gallery in Washington, D.C., houses the work of 13,000 artists. The Museum of Modern Art in New York has shown the work of 26,000 over the years. While those numbers might seem to dwarf the 80 artists whose work is included in this year’s Friends of Family Planning Art Show, 80 is actually an impressive number considering that the Island’s entire year-round population comes in close to the number of artists included in the National Gallery’s collection.
The annual exhibit represents the largest gathering of artists on the Vineyard, including nearly every medium from painting, drawing, and photography to furniture, ceramics, jewelry, and handbags.
“This amazing fundraising event, in its 28th and final year, is once again going to be an incredible representation of local artists’ talent and of their generosity,” says organizer Nili Beth Morgan.
“I have been involved with running the art show for seven or eight years and personally, I am so grateful to the artists who donate all or a portion of the proceeds of their work to raise funds to continue to guarantee access, for all, to reproductive healthcare on Martha’s Vineyard.”
As always, enthusiasm runs high among the artists, who in many cases are showing work created during the off-season for the first time. But at the same time, there’s a sense of sadness as an Island institution comes to an end.
“It’s always been about showing our work to each other,” says artist Wendy Weldon, who has been involved for many years, and helps to hang the show. “It’s never been about money for the artists. I think it’s the way that a lot of artists have gotten into galleries. There is also a lot of affordable art, so it’s really a win-win-win situation.”
This year Weldon will be showing work from a new series inspired by her recent travels. “I just got back from Tuscany,” she says. “I went to a lot of monasteries and churches and saw a lot of art — Piero della Francesca and Fra Angelico. I just love their work. I came back attempting to do my own Wendy Weldon abstract frescoes.”
Marjorie Mason, another longtime participant, will show some new work as well. “I’ve done some new paintings of Menemsha and the beach,” she says. “They’re some of my favorite subjects. I’m always looking for the many different ways that a landscape looks. I like to experiment with different light on different days.”
Mason will miss the show. “It’s been wonderful to see new artists come in and get a chance to be seen and taken seriously,” she says. “This market got stronger and stronger over the years. I’ve never seen it as being competitive. You really get a fair chance to participate and to see all the different ways that people think about art.”
Marston Clough, who’s been involved for 15 years, always relishes the chance to reconnect with other artists before the summer season begins. “I enjoy the whole process of setting up and seeing everybody again,” he says. Clough will use the opportunity to unveil a new triptych. “It’s called ‘Blue Sound’ — just ocean and sky. It’s what I like to look at as I cross over on the ferry. The ocean and sky are just jaw-dropping.”
Like many artists, Clough donates all of the proceeds from some of his sales to Family Planning. “I try to split it up,” he says. “A couple are 100 percent donations, a couple are the regular split.”
Friends of Family Planning art show kicks off with an opening party on Thursday, May 24, 6-8 pm at the Ag Hall. The show runs Friday and Saturday, May 25 and 26, 10 am-5 pm, and Sunday, May 27, from 10 am-2 pm.