Celebrating creativity

M.V. Playhouse hosts an evening of great art and great fun at VIP art show.


The Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse was packed Saturday evening as dozens of artists, their families, and the community turned out for the second annual Vineyard Independence Partnership (VIP) art show, “VIP on Land and Sea.” 

The feel inside the cozy artspace was one of togetherness and excitement, as many artists led their families around the room to show off their work. Hanging on the walls and interspersed through the exhibit were hand-painted watercolor pieces, marker and pencil drawings, and even custom bookmarks crafted by the talented Island artists.

Artistic and executive director for the Playhouse, MJ Bruder Munafo, said she is delighted to be able to host an art show in collaboration with such an essential service here on the Island.

VIP is a nonprofit partnership of individuals with disabilities, their friends, and families, that works to afford all the necessary opportunities for those with disabilities to live a full and happy life. “We are just so delighted to have the VIP art show here. I mean look at all these colors, it is just spectacular,” Munafo said as she greeted the crowd.

Munafo explained that a silent auction book would be available during the opening reception and for the next month where prospective bidders can bid on the artists’ works, or buy them directly. Munafo said 60 percent of the proceeds go directly to VIP, 30 percent goes to the artists for their hard work, and 10 percent to the playhouse.

Munafo said she enjoys seeing adults with and without disabilities working together and creating exemplary art. “Art and creativity really are the essences of our soul. Everyone should be able to express themselves in whatever way they want to, whether it’s painting or drawing or photography.”  According to Munafo, seeing the artists with their families and friends as they marvel at their art is a gratifying and heartwarming experience. “You can see all the big smiles, it’s so easy to tell how proud everyone is of the art in this room,” Munafo said.

According to professional Island artist Judy Drew Shubert, Featherstone played a huge part in making this event possible, because the artists used their studio to make all the art. Grants from the Vineyard Golf Association and the Permanent Endowment of Martha’s Vineyard funded four separate art courses that gave artists the supplies and support they needed to let their imaginations come to life.

Shubert conducted the classes alongside VIP member Tessa Permar, who said that Shubert would bring in flowers from her neighbor’s garden for the members of VIP to paint as still-lifes.

“She brought these beautiful roses and delphiniums in and guided the class in still life painting,” Permar said.

In the following class, artists took their inspiration from sailboats and other nature scenes.

“A lot of it is just us running wild with it and letting everyone use their own imagination,” Permar said. According to Permar, the art classes were initially inspired by all the creativity seen in VIP members, and Permar wanted to foster that creativity and see where it led.

All of the art in the exhibit exemplified the different skills of each artist. 

Painter Colin Kennedy painted a sailboat with incredible detail and complexity in color. He said the painting took him about a week to complete, but he’s pretty proud of the final product.“This is one of my favorites, but I like to paint whatever catches my eye,” Kennedy said

Artist Ally Johnson said that she has been painting ever since she was a little kid, and one day aspires to be a professional painter. Johnson’s painting was of a sailboat with a vibrant pink sail cruising toward an endless horizon. Not only does Johnson have a passion for art, but she said she also enjoys playing drums, keyboard, and guitar. “I do a little bit of everything, it keeps me busy,” Johnson said. Even though it was her first art show, she said she felt no nerves whatsoever, even with such a large crowd. “I’m not nervous at all. I’m brave, and I’m really proud of my art,” Johnson said.


VIP on Land and Sea will hang at the artspace of the M.V. Playhouse, 24 Church St., Vineyard Haven, through April 2. Visit mvplayhouse.org for more information.