Bon Voyage

We want to send huge love to Jane Slater, as today she celebrates her 40th year at the antique shop she and her husband Herb have operated in Menemsha. Someone else will be sitting behind this desk next season, but for me, I shall forever see her smile looking back.

Jane will step boldly into a new chapter and we wish her full speed ahead.

Our Ladies of Menemsha


Granary Gallery 2016

There you are…

Fifteen paintings to mark the fifteenth year of showing at the Granary Gallery.

Our wildly good fortune has evolved into enduring friendships and unwavering support.

Herself and I are grateful every single day that Chris Morse agreed to hang my paintings on the wall of his Red Barn. For the last fifteen years, he, his wife Sheila, their entire family, the extraordinary staff of the gallery, and the generous patrons and supporters on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, have made it possible for me to wake up every day and go to my studio and …paint.

I am one lucky artist, and I do not take one single minute of the last fifteen years at my easel for granted. With just a bit more of that luck, and all the energy I can muster, we will have many more years of collaboration, and friendship, together.

Thank you all.


Our Ladies of Menemsha

Our Ladies of Menemsha

If I did my job right,
a lot of you are going to recognize
at least two of these
ladies of Menemsha.

The one in the middle is my favorite, Jane Slater.
This is the fortieth year for the shop that she and her husband Herb
have owned in the little fishing village on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.

Her dear sweet swordfisherman of a partner Herb
was called to the fleet in heaven
a couple years ago,
and their even sweeter companion of a pup Lucy
soon thereafter to be by his side…
but Jane…
she’s a Yankee through and through,
and the island needs her
around for a good long while yet,
thank you very much.

But…40 years of being a shop-owner,
behind that desk, that chapter is about to close.
The sign comes down when the leaves start to drop this fall.

40 years of telling everyone who walks in that she’d be happy to answer any questions,
while Herb puttered back behind the curtain,
and Lucy’s tail could be heard thumping at his side,
and the good folk of the island wandered in and out,
only the truest among them
being offered that one extra chair
for a set-a-spell chat.

Some of my fondest memories of spending time with Ted
were the visits we made there.
Ted got the seat.
The three of them, Jane, Herb and Ted
had a lifetime of island stories to tell,
and my heart aches with the desire,
for one more afternoon of just listening to them pull on a good yarn.

I painted this mostly for me.
So that I could invite her into my studio,
so far away from that island…
to spend some time
sitting in the chair by my easel,
and listen to more of her stories
as I tried to capture
the elusive sparkle
in those beautiful eyes
just there
in that smile
at the edge
of her heart.


Oversouth Willow

Oversouth Willow

As is true of so many of my paintings,
the muses pulled on some pretty wild threads
to bring this not-so-still-life together.

I’ll say it started with Jane,
because of the teacups,
hidden among the many other artifacts
which she and her sword fishing husband, Herb purveyed
in their antique shop in Menemsha.

This is Jane’s 40th year,
in that treasure shack, Oversouth Willow,
and the last season of her tenure behind the desk.

And that is where we found her, last summer,
the film crew and I,
when we were parading our cameras, and mikes,
around the island, and we stopped to visit with Jane.

The team of David and Barbarella Fokos,
renowned artists/writers/film makers/Emmy winners,
were setting out to make a documentary film
to add to their growing collection for the new website,

TAO – The Artist Odyssey.

The results of which are almost complete,
and Herself and I are picking out our gowns for the premeire !

(Check my blog for details)

While the crew set up and Pat and Jane chatted,
I searched around and found these three porcelain gems.
Jane told us the story of the “Blue Willow” pattern,
which I believe was captured on film,
but what I remember most clearly
was the sparkle in her eyes…and she in her element.

Fast forward a month or two and we are getting ready,
here in my Pennsylvania studio,
for the Fokos Team to arrive for another session of filming.
I needed to have a painting in progress so I brought out those blue vessels.
And then the muses stepped up.
They rifled through the linen prop drawer for something blue,
and the feather that Saren had brought me the day before
drifted down from the teacup shelf,
they fingered around in my back pocket
for the tiny shard of blue tile that I had found
in the pebbled lane the last time I walked up to Camp Sunrise,
and they sent me climbing up to the “old studio”,
the shed on stilts by the creek,
which is now the overflow prop room…
and I opened the door…

the blue door.

Bam, I’m in.

I had climbed those rickety stairs,
and opened that door every day for I don’t know how many years,
and inside was…my bliss.
My first real studio,
after 40 years of dreaming.
I remember when that paint was new.
Around here they were not sure how to mix Nantucket Blue.
There are a couple of paintings which feature the other side of this old door,
but if you stepped back far enough to get some perspective on the outside of it…
you would be swimming in the creek thirty feet below.

Opened to the inside,
with my hand on that wonderful doorknob,
and the light raking over the blue chips of paint…
well, that was interesting.
It was quick work to find something to use as a support,
and the red cover of the old faithful, “Iron Woman” book
was the perfect accent…think Jane.

When the Fokos’ arrived,
the painting was well underway,
but David wanted to recreate and film the set up part of the process.
You should have seen us cramming into the tiny space by that door
with cameras and crew…remember what I said about that one step backwards.

No one was harmed in the filming of this movie,
and now this painting has a great story to tell.

And I’ve got to go dye my eyes to match my gown.


Taking flight and scaling down…

These two are about wonder and fun and imagination.

To Scale  –  16 x 20

To Scale

Menemsha is a magical place.
In, of, and surrounded by the sea.

Imagine what a young child feels,
standing in the shadow,
of the behemoth swordfishing hulls
that line the wooden docks.

The mysteries that await them
in the swirl of eddies behind the jetty,
running full tilt across the crescent of sandy beach,
or wading slowly, slowly, with net in hand,
as a tiny creature wiggles under the nearby stone.

Tales, both tall and terrifying
can be overheard sitting on the bench at squid row.
Sloppy sided rubber boots
drip salty puddles.
Floppy brimmed canvas hats
get tossed on coils of rusted ropes and chains.
Whip thin rods and lines cast delicate wakes,
and listen…
to all the sounds that water can make…

it’s the definition of childhood.

Two, such curious and adventure bound children,
were walking along the new pier,
built in the wake of that dreadful fire which razed the Coast Guard boathouse.
I don’t remember if it was before
or after the ice cream cones,
but the energy was high and the sun was shining.

The boy ran ahead.
He had spotted this fish,
laying so perfectly, and with nary a fisherman in sight,
as if it had just leapt out of the sea.
His sister remarked on the brilliance of the colors,
and he reached into his pocket
and layed the three bottle caps he had collected
in a neat row alongside.

All of this
and more
is dancing
in that shadow.

Solo  –  18 x 24

Solo

Now take yourself to the other end of the island.
The long grassy strip of heath
that leads, over the line of dunes,
to South Beach and then…the ocean.
You are at the Katama Airfield.
Actually, you are in the Right Fork Diner
which is in the field next to the tiny airport.

It’s a Wright Brothers era kind of a place.
With all the wooden propellers and greasy rags,
it can easily fool the 21st century visitor
into thinking they saw their great grandfather, sitting on the old ladderback,
in the shadowed corner of the hanger.

My great-grandfather actually did work for the Wright Brothers.
Which must have been what drew my attention to the bits of fabric
hanging from index cards, which were thumb tacked in a neat line,
all around the ceiling’s edge of the dining room.

The gentleman next to me noticed my curiosity
and told me that when a student pilot flies their first solo flight,
the instructor ceremonially tears off a piece of her or his shirt.
Each of the cards had the pilots’ name and date of flight
and the word, “Solo” written in block letters
with a ratty bit of shirt tail attached…
here and there a button or a cuff.

The earliest ones I could see were from the 60’s.
I don’t think the place would have looked much different back then.
A little less rust maybe, but isn’t that true for most of us.


Herb

Herb

I was just thinking about this salty old dog today. Herb Slater, one of a kind. Yet another of our Captains who made old bones. Just love that mischievous twinkle.
I’m looking forward to giving Jane a big hug in a few weeks but I’m sure gonna miss Herb peaking out of his workshop doorway in her antiques shop.
Here’s a nice read from Peter Magee, in the Vineyard Gazette, about Herb and the old swordfishing captains of Menemsha.

Piercing the Past – click here to read

 

 

 

 


News from Menemsha

aof_menemsha_harbormaster_shack

From the MV Gazette…(photo credit, Albert O. Fisher)

New Harbor Master Shack Arrives in Menemsha

A new harbor master shack arrived in Menemsha on Monday afternoon, replacing the 35-year-old building perched above the commercial dock. The shack was built by students at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and transported via trailer. Voters approved spending $24,000 on the project late last year.”They did a nice job,” harbor master Dennis Jason Jr. said at a recent board of selectmen meeting. “The building was nicely put together.” – See more at:

http://mvgazette.com/news/2014/04/01/new-harbor-master-shack-arrives-menemsha?k=vg5246eee864179#sthash.tZMH95pO.dpuf

So, if I read this correctly, this newly delivered building will replace…

this old building…

Harbor-Master

Harbor Master – 2002

Just part of the many new changes in store for this old fishing village…stay tuned.

 


That’s how THIS light gets in

Transom – 14″ x 18″

Transom

This was the second painting I worked on in the series
and the first where I had just the architecture to focus on.
Every single surface was reflecting the sunlight differently.
I really had to learn the founding structure of the building
and came to appreciate my limited knowledge of construction
as I studied the sketches and reference photos
in great detail to make sure I got them accurate.
Once I had the bones down
it was all about the light.
And letting it dance around on the walls
and reflect off of the banisters
and drive that shaft straight into the foreground
and bounce back
in that impossibly blue line
just behind the door.


Open for the Season…

Well, it is now…but way back at the end of October, when I first started working on this painting, the Chilmark Store Porch was a ghost town.

So we have left the seaworthy sights and sounds of Menemsha and retraced our steps to Beetlebung Corner. But this time we are turning right. Slowly, slowly, just a few short feet more…and there it is. If you time it right, one of the 4-runners will be backing out just in time for you to pull in. But if you don’t, just wait a couple seconds more for the next satisfied customer will be exiting shortly.

Closed for the Season – 16″ x 19″

Closed for the Season

There is so much nostalgia weathered into the boards of this old porch.

Generations of up island travelers have stopped to set a spell in the heavy green rockers. Early on a summer morning the smell of roasting coffee mingles with the fresh ink on the Gazette.

The lazy mornings give way to the serious trekkers dipping in for their subs and refilling their water bottles.

Afternoons, the kids gather and scatter and gather again and if rain is in the offing it can be standing room only until the skies clear and the bikes can roll out again.

And then it’s time for pizza ! With Frank’s home grown veggies the pies are legendary.

Back before they decided that hydroperoxide and baking soda was the best remedy for skunk attacks I remember making it just in time to be the last customer to buy all the tomato juice cans on the shelf.

Oh, the gratitude, for the all the pleasures of an up island convenience store with friendly faces and wonderful short order cooks and a welcoming porch…full of rocking chairs.