West Tisbury: William Blakesly Art Exhibits

It’s been a wet week, no real rain, just overcast humidity like living inside a cloud. It’s still dry when you dig into the ground. Shallow-rooted rhododendrons and saplings seem to do their best to keep water incorporated into their systems. Leaves drop or change color and drop completely. Our beautiful tulip tree is surrounded by a skirt of yellow and browning foliage.

The changing light is also noticeable, especially under this gray sky. Abby sleeps later in the morning, jumping on the bed to wake us up closer to 7 a.m. than 5 or 6 a.m. A golden retriever over 60 pounds is always a shock at any time.

I was surprised to see the low shrubbery surrounding Mill Pond already a rusty orange. I say surprised, which is perhaps not the right word. I watch and follow the seasons, and I always have. Being a better archivist, writing down dates of changes, would provide a better reference than my memory. Maybe this should be a New Year’s resolution.

It has cooled down a bit, enough to let us think that fall is near. Another sign is the annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, the 77th this year, which started at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday morning. It will continue until October 15. Then it will be hunting season and fall vacation, and the new year will be upon us. I shouldn’t rush the seasons and try hard not to, but everything seems rushed these days.

Sunday was also the opening day for two art exhibitions of the work of artist William Blakesly. One is at Martha’s Vineyard Museum and will run until November 4. The other is a retrospective at the Featherstone Center For the Arts, curated by the late artist’s daughter, Barbara Blakesley. It will remain visible until October 2.

William Blakesly was introduced to the vineyard by two winemakers, June Taylor and Tom Thatcher, who taught pottery at Ohio State, where Blakesley taught painting. He and his first wife, Virginia, began coming here in the summers of 1955. They were originally stay-at-home parents at the Lillian Manter American Hostel, an island landmark near the barracks. West Tisbury Fire Department I on Edgartown – West Tisbury Road. Eventually they built their home just up the road on Dan’l’s Way and settled year round.

All the while, Blakesley painted watercolors of idyllic summers on boats or on toy-strewn beaches. Families would have picnics, catch fish, or simply walk hand in hand. Life was decidedly good in his world, and it remains so in all the paintings that hang in the homes of many people. They are precious as a moment in time and space.

The Howes House/Up-Island Council on Aging Building Committee is looking for volunteers to participate in a focus group that will look at how the building will be used in the future. How much space will be needed to achieve these goals? Meetings are scheduled for the first week of October, from October 3 to 8. There will be two times: 10 am to 11:30 am on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday and Thursday. If you are interested, please email hhfocusgroup2022@gmail.com.

There will be a memorial rally for Tony Cordray this Sunday afternoon, September 18, at 2 p.m., at Ag Hall. It will be a potluck, so bring something special to share. Just spoke with Deborah Welles, who is helping Kathy Cordray organize the event. She said everyone is welcome to call and let him know what he’s bringing, or to find out if there’s anything he particularly needs. His phone number is 508-687-9746. Looks like there will be a wide variety of dishes, as potlucks tend to come together naturally. I joked that I hoped there would be lots of deviled eggs, in honor of Tony’s Flying Skunk Farm, and was told they were one of Tony’s favorite foods. Enough said.

The following day, Monday, September 19, we will gather again at Ag Hall at 4 p.m. to celebrate the life of Margaret DeVane Logue. It will also be a potluck. There will surely be stories to tell, and Kathy asks that we all bring our best to share. I always learn something I didn’t know about someone I thought I knew well, and it probably won’t be any different.

We are blessed to be able to come together again to honor beloved members of the community, comfort each other, laugh at funny memories and cry together. COVID has left many of us alone in recent years. I look forward to raising my glass on Sunday and Monday afternoons to toast two dear, old friends.

If you have suggestions for columns from the town of West Tisbury, email Hermine Hull, hermine.hull@gmail.com.

William E. Bennett