Art grows on the vine at this annual show highlighting artists of color

Art on the Vine, a four-day, multipronged celebration beginning next weekend, is far more than just an exhibit. The annual event is intended to introduce visitors to early and mid-career artists of color, as well as to educate and inform the public.

Starting on Sunday, August 11, the Agora Culture, organizers and sponsors of the celebration, will set up events at the Dr. Daniel Fisher House and the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown, hosting an exhibit of work by 18 contemporary women artists, and presenting a series of panel discussions and conversations intended to bring together art appreciators, collectors, up-and-coming artists, institutions, and the merely curious. The exhibit and events are free and open to all.

Also on the roster is a performance piece created by two artists who recently completed residencies offered by the organization. Earlier this summer, the two recipients of the Savage-Lewis Artist Residency spent a month on the Vineyard working on a collaborative piece which will include members of the Polar Bears of Martha’s Vineyard. The performance will take place at Inkwell Beach, the site where the piece was developed. The Savage-Lewis Residency is named for two African American artists from Harlem who spent time on the Vineyard in the 1930s and collaborated on works while here.

This is the fifth annual Art on the Vine celebration, and the first year that the event is celebrating women artists. “I decided to do something different this year after visiting the National Museum of Women in the Arts in D.C,” says Art on the Vine founder Jessica Stafford Davis. “I’ve been talking a lot with people about the disparity between men and women in the art world. This year just seemed like the right time. We will be focusing on stories, issues, and ideas of black women, who we believe have been muted. ”

As in the past, the artists whose work will be exhibited are painters, sculptors and photographers. Many of the past participants have gone on to show their work at major galleries and art institutions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. “We have had the opportunity to show these artists before they become unattainable,” says Davis, who has a background in finance and art history and works as an independent curator, educating people on how to start collections.

According to the event website, “Art on the Vine offers a unique opportunity to network with art collectors, industry leaders, and community advocates in an authentic and involving way.” To those ends, the celebration will include an event called the Convening, which will feature presentations and lectures led by leading experts and artists. Among the 17 or so participants will be curators, art educators and administrators, and art historians.

“This is intended to be a safe place where you can ask questions,” explains Davis. “We try to take the intimidation out of art, demystify the art world, and give people a space to explore.”

In the past the celebration has attracted from 500 to 600 visitors, many of whom have traveled from off-Island specifically for the event. Attendees include serious collectors and art appreciators from all over. 

“What we’ve come to realize is that people are curious,” says Davis. “They don’t always have easy access to these artists and this community. We’ve been able to find a place for everyone to engage. We develop great relationships, and we stay in contact with those who are interested in finding different opportunities to engage in art and artists, wherever they may live. It’s a great entryway into the art world.”


Art on the Vine events will take place from August 11 to 14. The exhibit at the Daniel Fisher House will be open August 11, 12, and 13 from 10 am to 6 pm, and August 14 from 10 am to noon. The Convening series of talks and presentations will take place at the Old Whaling Church on Monday, August 12, from 10 am to 6 pm. The exhibition and all events are free. For a full schedule, visit