Creative expressions

Vineyard Independence Partnership debuts new artwork at the Playhouse.


Artists, friends, family, and many others associated with the Vineyard Independence Partnership (VIP) braved the pouring rain to come to the opening of the art exhibit at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse on Dec. 7. The show, on exhibit through Jan. 28, features artwork that was specially created for VIP’s very appealing new calendar, both of which are on sale, with the proceeds shared by the Playhouse and VIP. The lobby art space gallery is filled with fabulous creativity in which abstraction, realism, fantasy, and imagination abound. 

VIP, initially called the Martha’s Vineyard Special Parents Association, was founded in 1983 by a group of families working to improve opportunities for their children with disabilities in and out of school. In 2007, they changed the name to VIP to represent a full picture of inclusion for people of all ages living, working, and playing on Martha’s Vineyard. Jane Keenan, whose daughter Martha is one of the artists, was one of the original mothers. She shares, “It’s been integrated with the community, and includes people who don’t have a child with different abilities but like what we’re doing.” J.P. Hitesman, co-president — along with Judi Schubert, who began the art project — says, “VIP facilitates social and community engagement. It could be community volunteering, getting the group together for activities like a movie, mini golf, drama, or skiing in New Hampshire.”

Member Allison Burger adds that they have done walks, bowling, archery at Camp Jabberwocky … and, of course, art classes. She explains, “Judi had the inspiration in the spring to do art classes. There were 12 to 20 people and we’ve been doing them in the kitchen at the old Chilmark Chocolates.”

Schubert herself explains, “We’ve been doing art for many years. VIP originally got a grant, and would rent a room at Featherstone Center for the Arts and do a class once a month. We had a couple of shows at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, and then COVID hit. Later I saw a calendar by a young woman with Down syndrome on the Cape, and I thought it was a great idea — we should have a calendar. So we started doing art for one, and Heather Tilton continued holding classes over the summer.”

A good number of artists contributed to the show, including Ida Bailey, Mark Baird, Allison Burger, Alexander Campbell, Donald Childs, Erin Doyle, Judith Drew Schubert, Dale Ferry, Jillian Guest, J.P. Hitesman, Ally Johnson, Chris Johnson, Eugene Johnson, Rolino Joseph, Martha Keenan, Colin Kennedy, Amanda Kram, Greg Marshall, Onnie Palmer, Tony Palmer, Julie Schmidt, Carolyn Stoeber, Heather Tilton, and Diamond Vanderhoop. And walking around, you can’t help but feel the joy these artists felt in creating their marvelous expressions.

The art and calendar are for sale at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse Art Space Gallery, which is open from 1 to 4 pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. For more information about the Vineyard Independence Partnership, see