Editor’s Letter

Doug Kent, 'Chilmark Woods' 24x27, oil on birch panel. Courtesy A Gallery.

Doug Kent, ‘Chilmark Woods’ 24×27, oil on birch panel. Courtesy A Gallery. 

Arts & Ideas creative director and founding editor Patrick Phillips has a poem (untitled) in this issue from his forthcoming book, we plié. Patrick would roll his eyes if I called this the Arts & Ideas Family Issue, and might refuse to speak to me if I supported that idea with a line from his poem: “… not just friend but family, little dots of dots recur …”

But what has recurred again and again here in our late summer issue is indeed the connections among the people in these pages — not just friends but family.

Sometimes magazine editors decide ahead of time that there will be a Theme to an issue. That wasn’t the case with this issue. As the magazine was coming together, we (Patrick and contributing editor Kate Feiffer and I) said to each other, Wow, we’ve got 10 stories involving couples or families or family relationships, and four of them are by or about members of the same family.

Painter Colin Ruel and his wife, jeweler Nettie Kent Ruel, live in a yurt in West Tisbury, work side by side in a nearby studio and, “like any couple, they talk over each other, and finish each other’s sentences.”

That story was written by Mathea Morais, and in her family, the Levine/Morais/Rouffs, we have what amounts to a “quatrafecta”: Her father, Paul Levine, professor emeritus of genetics at Stanford, writes about the community of scientists on the Island (specifically geologists, in this issue). Paul’s wife, the painter Marie-Louise Rouff, was profiled by Hermine Hull, who also wrote a story about Mathea’s husband (and Paul and Marie-Louise’s son-in-law), Chioke Morais. (Got that?)

In “What Mattered in August,” Laura Wainwright remembers her husband waking her and their children at midnight to watch the Perseid meteor showers fill the night sky. Her wish upon the falling stars, she says, “was to hold this moment forever, knowing I couldn’t.”

In one piece of fiction, “Fourteen,” novelist (and yoga teacher) Sian Rebecca Williams writes of losing her daughter at the fair while she’s busy trying to win the skillet toss; in another, an excerpt from Nicole Galland’s new novel Stepdog, a man and his wife try to win over an immigration official with a convincing display of matrimony.

Hard to beat Arnie Reisman and Paula Lyons at matrimony: They got married 33 years ago, and told Jack Shea they’ve been laughing ever since.

Nancy Aronie writes about realizing how right her husband has been all along, and in a farewell to her company, Vineyard Stories, Jan Pogue describes the publishing business she started with her late husband, John Walter.

So what’s all this mean? What we heard over and over was that relationships among artists and writers, and the rest of us, create synergy — a “more than the sum of their parts” effect. Not only are we richer for our connections, but our work is too. The stories of and by the families and couples we have featured all underscore the sometimes difficult coexistence of permanence and change in the people we choose to live with and the work we choose to create.

That, and just that it’s summer on the Vineyard, and the clans have gathered — on the Island and in these pages.

There’s more than just families, of course: Enjoy it all, and thanks for joining us.

— Jamie Stringfellow

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