Art from the heart

Island artists donate works to the new childcare and education center on the MVCS campus.


When Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) opened the doors to its new Early Education and Care Center last month, the 10,000-square-foot facility, designed and built by South Mountain, proved as aesthetically impressive as it is a vital resource for the Island. The only thing missing was a collection of artwork to adorn the walls of the facility, which serves Island children from infancy through pre-kindergarten.

Enter Liza Cowan May, an MVCS board member and former art consultant, with numerous ties to artists in the community. May worked tirelessly this past year to acquire work from local artists, and her hard work, coupled with the generosity of the Island art community, has truly paid off. The new center now boasts 37 works from 25 different local artists. The only place you’ll find more Island artists represented in one space is at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

The work represents a variety of media, including paintings, prints, photographs, and mixed-media pieces. The artwork has been expertly hung — taking into consideration variously the light, the design, and the purpose of each of the spaces in the facility.

May, who splits her time between the Vineyard and her home in Virginia, served as an art consultant in Alexandria, Va., for 25 years, and the hand of a professional is clearly in evidence in the curation and the exhibition of the wonderful collection. She selected particularly bright, colorful pieces for the open-air areas. An abstract work in more subdued colors hangs in the center’s quiet room. May playfully placed a charming painting of a bullfrog by Andrew Moore over a water fountain.

Two paintings by local legend Alan Whiting, whose donation of the work in 1984 served as partial inspiration for the art initiative, were given prominent spaces. The larger of the two by Whiting was placed so that it welcomes visitors entering the building.

“The beauty of the program is that the artists included range from from your best-known artists to relatively unknown artists,” says May. “They’re all treasures.”

Established artists represented — whose work can be found in galleries around the Island and beyond — include Wendy Weldon, Jeanne Staples, Andrew Moore, L.A. Brown, and Walker Roman. Among the emerging artists with work on display are Kelsey Leonard, Gwen O’Neil, and Christopher Sterry, a member of the South Mountain team who built the facility, and who enthusiastically offered to donate to the effort when he heard about the initiative.

“I found it to be a really humbling experience,” says May. “Everyone was overwhelmingly responsive. I was really touched by how kind and how generous the artists were.”

She adds, “To me this Island has the most incredible talent — whether with artists, musicians, or theater people. It’s pretty extraordinary. I love how the artists support each other, and support the community at large.”

A grand opening of the center will take place sometime in the near future, although a specific date has not been set yet because of ongoing COVID concerns.

Artists whose donated work hangs at MVCS’s Early Education and Care Center

Brooke Adams, Michael Blanchard, L.A. Brown, Marston Clough, Warren Gaines, Neva Goldstein, Rob Hauck, Brian Kilpatrick, Kelsie Leonard, Tommy May, Andrew Moore, Brandon Newton, Gwen O’Neil, Barbara Reynolds, Tara Reynolds, Walker Roman, Judith Drew Schubert, Jeanne Shepard, Christopher Sterry, Taylor Stone, Peggy Turner-Zablotny, David Wallis, Wendy Weldon, Allen Whiting, and one piece by an unknown artist.