Professional Nonprofit Theater on Martha's Vineyard
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24 Church Street, Box 2452, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 | 508-696-6300

Vineyard Independence Partnership Follows the Creative Spirit

by Louisa Hufstader, Vineyard Gazette

A new art show and silent auction at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse highlights the creative side of the Vineyard Independence Partnership (VIP), a social organization made up of adults with disabilities.

More than 20 VIP members contributed work to the exhibition, which is on display throughout March in the playhouse lobby.

“I love this show. Look at the colors!” playhouse artistic director MJ Bruder Munafo told an applauding crowd at the opening reception Saturday evening.

Bright flowers, sailboats on blue waters, multi-hued abstracts and an orange ceramic pumpkin are among the nearly 50 artworks in the exhibition, which also includes a pair of quilts and a set of beaded jewelry.

Titled VIP by Land and Sea, the show was inspired by a series of workshops at Featherstone Center for the Arts last fall and over the winter. VIP arts and communication coordinator Tessa Permar and Judy Drew Schubert coordinated the workshops, beginning each session with a demonstration.

“Judy brought in these incredible flowers, roses and delphiniums, and guided us in some still life paintings of these flowers,” Ms. Permar said. “The following class we were inspired by sailboats.”

But these themes were just a starting point, Ms. Permar said.

“After that demonstration, we invited everybody to look through books and go through their imagination and just run wild with it,” she said. “A lot of it is just the artists themselves expressing what is in them.”

While most of the art in the playhouse show was made during the Featherstone workshops, Celeste Ewing continued to create work at home, submitting a series of three abstract expressionist landscapes in acrylic on paper.

Erin Doyle, who also has a piece in the group show The Numbers Speak for Themselves at the Featherstone Art Barn, said she prefers to work in a studio.

“I just do it at Featherstone,” Ms. Doyle said. “I would wreck my house because paint goes everywhere.”

Rhiannon Maher, who along with Ms. Doyle and several other VIP member artists was a longtime employee of Chilmark Chocolates before the shop closed in December, said she has enjoyed the workshops more each time she takes part in them.

“It’s like letting go of knowing what you’re going to do and just letting it come to you,” she said.

“I wanted it to be paint by numbers at first,” added Ms. Maher, who created both the ceramic Pumpkin at Rest and a dynamic abstract painting titled Fall S.W. of Swing Set.

Another Chilmark Chocolates veteran, Greg Marshall, paid tribute to the shop with a ceramic chocolate box.

Ms. Permar said grants from the Vineyard Golf Foundation and the Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard funded the cost of art supplies and studio time at Featherstone, which provided a discounted rate for the workshops.

All of the artwork on display at the playhouse is for sale, with 60 per cent of the proceeds benefiting VIP, 30 per cent to the individual artists and 10 per cent to the playhouse to cover the cost of hanging the show and hosting the reception. Most pieces have a starting bid of $25 and “buy now” option of $100.

At Saturday’s reception, bidders lined up for a chance to look through the silent auction book, which will remain open for the rest of the month. For more immediate purchases, the exhibition also has angel note cards by Alexander Campbell for $2.50 and art bookmarks for $1.

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