West Tisbury: Island artists

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— Kyra Steck

It was cold this morning, Monday, 48 degrees when I checked the thermometer outside our kitchen window, a morning for hot coffee, wool socks, and a quilt across my lap. Abby and the cats all disappeared upstairs as soon as they finished their breakfasts, back to still-warm nests. It will warm up through the day once the sun comes up. September is always this way with days of clothing in layers to add or take off. By the time you are reading this, the first day of fall will have been noted and passed.

There was an artists’ reception at the West Tisbury library last Saturday afternoon for Rob Hauck, Marie-Louise Rouff, and Wendy Weldon. Their exhibition is called “The Abstract Collection.” The paintings were beautifully arranged, each artist having their own section of the room, with plenty of space to isolate and step back from the work. Some were large, needing that air and space to breathe. The three artists’ paintings looked very well together.

Interestingly, all three have experimented with their use of color. Both Wendy Weldon’s and Rob Hauck’s work uses a softer palette. For Wendy, it was a continuation of the lightness of some of the paintings she showed earlier in the summer. Rob’s paintings used closer color patterns and values to make paintings of luminess air. Marie-Louise Rouff’s work keeps her colors strongly saturated, but expands with rich blues and greens the earthy reds and ochres we expect.

The program room was filled with admirers and art patrons, who spilled outside onto the deck, where a table was set up with a still-life of strawberries, cheese and crackers, chocolates, and an arrangement of zinnias to dazzle the senses. It invited an easy back and forth between looking at the paintings and wandering outside for a bite of something.

Having the opportunity to see good abstract art on the Island has been a gift. Get to the M.V. Playhouse art space to see Nancy Cramer’s show there. She is another masterful maker of non-representational art, pushing a painted surface to include light-catching beads.

I was pleased to see that the regional high school is requiring all seniors to take a civics class. It surprised me that schools didn’t always teach civics, as it had been an important part of the curriculum when I was a student. I remember being told how important it was that we learn how our government was designed and how it functioned, that we understood our responsibility to be good citizens.

Responsibilities of citizenship and being part of a society for the mutual benefit of all were a big deal in those days. My Oxford English Dictionary defines civics as “the study of the rights and duties of citizenship.” I found several definitions on the internet, all some variation on the theme of knowledge of our institutions and history, coupled with a strong requirement for our informed participation in our democracy. “The common good is the concern of all,” is a quote from “The Role of Civic Education,” civiced.org/papers/articles_role.html written in 1998.

I had written earlier about Jay Segel writing a song to benefit Doctors Without Borders. He had a goal of $25,000 and is pleased to announce the project has raised $31,000.00 already. Bravo.

Lots of Happy Birthday good wishes for Celine Segel, whose birthday was Sept. 17.

Our niece, Charlotte Hull, has been in town visiting her father, Jared, and Sue Hruby. Jared took the week off so he and Charlotte could go fishing together; she had planned to come during the Derby, after all. The rest of her days included some time with Mike and me, other relatives and school friends, but mostly there was time for me to have Charlotte all to myself. It was such a long time since she had been to the Island, way too long, but finally she was here, and I loved every second. Ten days went by in an instant. I did my best to be grateful in the moment, but I wish she could have stayed longer.

If you have any West Tisbury Town Column suggestions, email Hermine Hull, hermine.hull@gmail.com.