Eye on Arts: Highlights of a Vineyard Summer

The Martha's Vineyard African-American Film Festival will return on August 6 through the 13th. This marks the festival's 19th year.         —Photo by Bernard Fairclough

With 2020 and all of its restrictions in the rearview mirror, this summer is shaping up to be one loaded with cultural events — indoors and outdoors (for those with lingering Covid concerns). 

Due to the uncertainty about reopening measures, many local organizations’ plans are still in flux as of this writing, so this rundown is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather a look at some highlights of the arts and culture summer season. 

The Yard of Chilmark will once again be hosting dancers and choreographers from all over the world for two-week residencies culminating in public performances. Two of the upcoming works in progress shows will shine a light on the dance traditions of different cultures. In early July, break dance innovator Raphael Xavier will bring his unique approach to Breaking as an art form to the Yard — continuing his work on a piece which highlights the traditions of freestyle and improvisation in both Breaking and Jazz. Later in July, Danza Orgánica will head to the Island to work on, and present, a collaboration between the Boston based company and local Wampanoag members for a piece which highlights traditional and contemporary stories of the Aquinnah Wampanoag people through dance, song, installation, and storytelling.

Although the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse won’t be returning to their downtown Vineyard Haven stage just yet, they will be offering a full season of theater outdoors at the Tisbury Amphitheater. From July 8 to 18, the Playhouse will present the solo show, “Every Brilliant Thing,” an immersive solo play that celebrates, through a bittersweet and humorous lens, all of the things — big and small — that make life worth living. Shakespeare for the Masses, the popular free series of abbreviated plays, will offer one of the Bard’s comedies, “Measure for Measure,” and a drama, “Macbeth,” in the troupe’s unique style which incorporates humorous commentary and historical background in a fun, family-friendly package. 

The three-day festival of dance, Built on Stilts, will be back this summer celebrating their 25th anniversary with a series of live performances at the Union Chapel. Up until last year, when the festival was on hiatus due to Covid restrictions, founder/director Abby Bender had invited any and all community members to perform original work during the free festival. Last year the event went digital but Bender vowed she would be back for the quadricentennial anniversary and, good to her word, dancers of all ages and all levels of experience will be performing short pieces in the popular family-friendly, all inclusive celebration of dance. 

Featherstone Center for the Arts will be the scene, once again, for the annual Islanders Write weekend in September, from the 17th to the 20th. Throughout the summer months, the arts campus will also host a number of other events, including the continuation of the Summer Festival of Poetry with a special evening featuring poet Sean Murphy reading along with the Joel Harrison and the Stan Strickland Quartet. Billy Collins will be back for his biannual visit to Featherstone on September 30, preceded by a poetry workshop with the world renowned poet the day before. 

This year Featherstone is hosting a series of collaborative art shows. During July, the A Gallery will take over the Francine Kelly Gallery for an exhibit featuring a number of the gallery’s most popular artists, including Rez Williams. In August/early September, Featherstone will host a show titled From Caldecott to Coretta Scott: Awardwinning Black Illustrators with guest curator, Rich Michelson. 

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum will host a number of events – both indoors and outdoors – including a series of talks titled “History Unfolded.” The discussions, led by various Vineyard experts, will take a deep dive into the Island’s most compelling stories. 

The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival will continue to offer drive-in movies at the YMCA all summer. The open air initiative was put in place last year to accommodate Covid restrictions and has proven very popular. The two decade old organization will be hosting a few special screening events this summer including Shark Week, which will include a screening of the Spielberg classic “Jaws” and the new documentary “Playing with Sharks.” The MVFF will have plenty more special events happening throughout the summer. 

The Martha’s Vineyard Film Center will be screening films all year round and will present two summer film festivals:  MV Documentary Week (Aug 2 to 6) and the 16th annual Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival (Sept. 7 to 12). Social distancing efforts will be in place at the Film Center as required. 

Run&Shoot Filmwork’s Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival will return in August (6 to 13) with a full line up of films, parties, concerts, dance performances, and talks. This year will mark the festival’s 19th year. 

This year the Pathways Arts organization will be extending their programming, normally limited to the off-season months, to include a number of summer events. A series of multi-disciplinary evenings incorporating dance, theater, music, video, and readings will take place outdoors at the Tisbury Waterworks on July 11 and 18 and August 8. All events are pay what you will.

Combining their maritime heritage with their historical dedication to the visual arts, the Old Sculpin Gallery will be hosting a very unique event in July. A week long (July 16 to 23) celebration, taking place throughout Edgartown, will feature a Catboat Parade; a display of vintage catboats and an art exhibit celebrating the Old Sculpin’s history as the workshop of legendary local boat builder Manuel Swartz Roberts (nicknamed Old Sculpin). The exhibit will include paintings and photos of catboats by the Martha’s Vineyard Art Association members, as well as an exhibit of artifacts from the days when Roberts had his shop set up in the distinctive structure across from the Chappy ferry launch. 

The Oak Bluffs Arts District Strolls will resume this summer with one a month on July 10th, Aug 7, and Sept 4. The Dukes County Ave. galleries and a handful of artists studios will host openings with refreshments while the festivities spill out onto the street with music and independent artists offering work, The September stroll will also feature an auction of artist painted chairs and outdoor showers by local architects to benefit Habitat for Humanity. 

The Kara Taylor Gallery in West Tisbury will host two special events in July. On July 31, a fundraiser for the Innocence Project in Tennessee. The celebrity-filled benefit will take place in a tent on the gallery grounds and will feature artwork by Ndume Olatushani, who spent 28 years in prison (20 on death row) before being exonerated in 2012. Later that month the gallery will host an exhibit dedicated to portraiture with work by Brooke Adams, John Davies, and Taylor herself. 

“Give me Shelter,” an art auction taking place on August 3 and 4, will benefit Harbor Homes of Martha’s Vineyard. Harbor Homes is a nonprofit organization that serves as the umbrella organization for all homeless prevention programming on the Island. Works by Allen Whiting, Billy Hoff, Jennifer Joanou, Whitney Cleary, Marjorie Mason, Darcie Lee Hanaway, Richard Erickson, and many others, will be auctioned off. According to a press release, Harbor Homes opened their first home in Vineyard Haven for men and aim to open a second home in Oak Bluffs for women, as well as a winter shelter and warming center.  The auction will take place at the Grange in West Tisbury on Tuesday, August 3rd from 2:00 to 8:30pm and on August 4 from 10:00 to 5:00 pm 

For more information, or to donate, visit harborhomesmv.com

Leave a reply

Theme developed by TouchSize - Premium WordPress Themes and Websites