Sentinel

Every commission opens a new door.
I enjoy the challenges of finding my way into other people’s histories
and interpreting their stories and spaces.

     This commission came to me through the Granary Gallery which represents my work on Martha’s Vineyard. A family was visiting the gallery last summer while my show was hanging and they made a particular connection with the paintings of interiors that are part of a lifelong series documenting the weathered cottages and backroad passages on the island.
They invited me for a visit to their Grandmother’s cottage where they have been spending summers on Sengekontacket Pond. Tucked in among a cluster of pond camp cabins, this house hugs the shoreline of the tidal saltwater pond and the family seemed to stream out from all of its sea washed corners to welcome us. With fishing poles in hand and sunburned cheeks the children buzzed around with questions about the paintings they had just seen, and stories of how they spend their summertime on the pond. In the late July afternoon, with wine and cheese in hand, their parents gave us their own tour of the vintage island cottage. With some much needed renovations planned for the fall, it was their idea to commission me to capture the spirit of the original cottage in all its weathered glory.
The cracks that let daylight and a freshening breeze into the privy, the original beaded paneling unbroken by modern wiring and fixtures, the sagging wooden screens on the porch, and the way the light moved through the tiny roomed interior were all part of the soul of their home and an important part of the family’s memories. And when the grandmother arrived and gave her graceful straw hatted matriarchal nod of approval to the project…my work began.
This is the view I chose to represent the pond in all its expansive glory. I wanted it to be larger than life so you could almost open the porch door and head down to the dock to catch something for supper. As we sat together on that porch in July the family stories tumbled over each other. We laughed about whether to include the decoy owl in the painting or not. But when I returned to the house to work on the commission in October, long after they had all gone, that solitary presence was still there guarding the cottage and keeping watch for their safe return.