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:
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.
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″
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.
Today we take a drive up island. Through the tree covered lanes of West Tisbury, out past the Allen sheep farm, around the bend and wave to Irene at the Chilmark library, through the stop sign at Beetlebung corner, left at the Menemsha Inn, slowly winding down the hill and right at Jane Slater’s Antiques shop, then through the curvy bit at the Bite, ok maybe we stop there and order some fried clams… then continue all the way out past Larsen’s Fish Market, and circle around until we find a parking spot, doesn’t matter where cause we are here.
While looking at this painting…if you turn left you would see the Texaco station and the Harbor Master’s shack…and if you turn right you will be headed out to sea. I know which way I would turn, how about you ?
Dreaming of the Fleet – 24″ x 32″
This was one of those iconic Menemsha moments. I had been sitting on the dock with my sketchbook and camera just watching the two or three fishermen who were lazily casting off of the pier. There were some very big and fancy boats in the harbor and the tired old Strider looked a bit sad to watch from her moorings as they passed on their way out to the big water.
A young boy joined the anglers and I noticed he was angling his own self for a seemingly coveted position at the very end of the dock. They all quietly checked out each other’s progress with eyes only for the twitch of a line. No one caught anything while I was there but the peaceful rhythm of the tossing of their lines was calming while I studied the scene.
Back home in my winter studio I zoomed in on one of the photographs and saw the Derby pins on the boy’s hat. So it had been serious business out there with more than a little bit of competition.
I decided to give him an edge and painted out the other wannabees so he had the dock and the waters all to himself.
And I decided to do the same for the old boats.
And, in spirit, I’m floating alongside the gull, and…In my wildest dreams…I’ve got a contender on the hook.
The island fisherman have brought wounded vets to the MV Derby and it’s a good old American Throw Down. I’ve got my money on the Tomahawk piloted by my pal Buddy Vanderhoop…but the waters are deep out there.
Another summer storm has moved over the island and the steamy air is warming up again…as we head over to Menemsha to pick up some lobsters for supper tonight we found a copy of this week’s MV Times. Front page photo of the Menemsha Basin painting which will be featured in tomorrow’s show at the Granary Gallery.
There was a major fire in the fishing village of Menemsha yesterday. The coast guard boathouse and several docks burned down to the waterline. It happened quickly and as of this morning there are no reports of major injuries. The other miracle of this story is that the wind was blowing out to sea. Within a few feet of the burning structure on the inland side are the historic fishing shacks that line the basin. They are bare wooden shacks, many of which are simply standing wooden tinderboxes…and most of which are working boathouses for the few remaining commercial fishermen on the island. Had the wind turned, they all would have been gone and with them the history and charm of that tiny island village.
There are reports of bravery this morning of fisherman who towed flaming but untethered boats out of danger and away from the gas station on the other side of the harbor, and firefighters who managed to control and contain the blaze, and townspeople who set up watering and cooling stations and helped to clear the roads for emergency vehicles.
This is the Vineyard. They know how to take care of each other.
Shortly after the fire began there were reports filtering onto Facebook and via local TV stations. Pat got the news and came over to the studio to let me know. Earlier that morning we had picked up the big paintings for this summer’s show from the photographer and I was in the process of framing this…
For most of the winter the shacks and boats and birds and scenery of Menemsha were my companions as I took care to faithfully render the rigging and shingles and horizon full of houses.
Like many generations of artists, I have been drawn to the historic charm and beauty of the fishing village. My own tastes tend to run toward the somewhat grittier side of the working aspects of the place. The way the detritis of the commercial fishermen, their boats and gear and comings and goings, make for a constantly evolving composition. Lobster pots and long lines, bouys and traps, pulpits and netting all get tossed around by the wind, the tides and the human hands that haul them to bring in the catch of the day.
And if you hang around long enough, and show up when the tourists have left for the day…or the season… the light that is so strong and ever changing on that island will reveal hidden treasures of beauty. For the last couple years I have concentrated on trying to capture some of what I see there and have used the challenge of the large canvas to find my way into the corners, behind the boathouses, and between the shadows of Menemsha.
As I look back now, the focus has been pulling outward…
from the closeup of the swordfishing troller Strider’s Surrender…
to the larger view of the boats and shacks Out Back O’ The Galley…
and opening wide up to the basin as seen from the top of Crick Hill just after dawn on a late October morning…
And in all of those paintings the Coastguard Boathouse can be seen. At first just a hint of the end of the dock to the left of the Strider. Then a sliver of white with the famous red shingled roof at the end of the road to the left of the big shack Out back of the Galley.
And this year, sadly the final portrait… it is the first building to catch the full morning sun at the far right of the painting and, weighed down by the gaggle of seabirds, it serves as an anchor.