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.
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.
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.