Celebrating music and art at Canvas and Chords


The Old Sculpin Gallery and MVY Radio celebrated 100 combined years of fostering artistic expression on the Vineyard at the Canvas and Chords live auction at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum on Saturday.

As the gallery enters its 65th year and MVY begins its 35th, director of development for MVY Karen Altieri said she had a light bulb go off in her head.

“It just seemed like such an obvious choice to combine the two and celebrate 100 years of art and music on Martha’s Vineyard,” Altieri said. “It’s a perfect marriage.”

Altieri said she was at a private event at an MVY board member’s house where she saw a band, and behind them were many hanging paintings by local artists.

“Inspiration immediately dawned on me; I knew that we had to make that connection, because art and music really go hand in hand,” Altieri said.

Altieri called the Old Sculpin Gallery and MVY “iconic nonprofit institutions” that are essential supporters of the Island community.

Originally, Altieri said she planned to have only 150 people attend the event, “but it just kept growing and growing in scale,” she said. “We knew it was going to be a successful event — it ended up selling out a month beforehand.”

Altieri said over $90,000 was raised from the event. 

Executive director of MVY P.J. Finn said he hopes the event will provide uplift for both organizations, and generate revenue that can be used to continue benefiting the Island. “I think it’s a natural fit,” Finn said. “Whether it’s a performing artist or a visual artist, the people we work with are artists.”

June Schoppe of the Old Sculpin Gallery said the gallery is trying to get more involved with the community, and to highlight its own history. She said the event is a “perfect combination of the goals of both organizations.” “I see a possible partnership with MVY going forward,” Schoppe said.

The Martha’s Vineyard Art Association (MVAA) is the 501(c)(3) entity that operates the Old Sculpin Gallery. Schoppe said in an email to The Times that this year, the association is launching the Friends of the MVAA, “a public liaison which will generate new interest in the gallery and, most important, provide support to the association in its mission of community education.”

Many works of art were available for bidding at the auction, where Marty Nadler stirred up the crowd as the auctioneer and standup comic. Before the auction began at 7:30 pm, Island artists Valentine Estabrook and Lizzy Schule painted plein air on the front lawn of the museum. After the paintings were done, they were immediately brought onstage to be auctioned off, before the paint had even dried. 

Estabrook said so many visual artists are also musicians, and vice versa. “This event really appeals to all the different senses and gives you a better appreciation for expression,” Estabrook said. “There are so many different ways to express yourself.”

Along with the visual art and music by the Ballroom Thieves, delicious confections were available from Sweet Bites Cafe and Bakery — celebrating yet another form of art.

MVY Radio board chair Kathleen Teehan said the station is moving into a capital campaign to raise $2.5 million for their new studio in West Tisbury. Teehan said MVY has already raised 35 percent of that goal, and hopes Canvas and Chords will help spread the word of the station’s ambitions. “I really do believe we serve as the voice for the Vineyard,” Teehan said. 

Co-president for the Old Sculpin Gallery Meg Mercier reminded the audience that the gallery was the first art gallery on Martha’s Vineyard, and is “part of a rich artistic history on the Island.”

Based on the success of Canvas and Chords’ first year, Altieri said she hopes to open the event to the public in the following years. 

“We want to allow the whole Island to be a part of this wonderful celebration of history, culture, and expression,” Altieri said.


  1. Glad you raise so much money but a $175 for an entry ticket it excluded most islanders. So many events are now charging so much islanders are excluded. How about a two tier ticket price?

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