To get to the Chilmark Tavern in winter, you’ve got to be motivated. If you’re coming from down-Island, you’ll be traveling a great network of pitch-black lonely lanes. From up-Island, a vast track of even darker, lonelier lanes. But just as you begin to feel like a member of the Donner party, exhausted and, well, hungry … there it is: a post-and-beam chalet of soft lights.
After you park and enter, you’ll see welcoming faces, some of whom you know. Straight ahead is a bar with young Stacey Smith ready to pour you a chalice of wine or a glass of sparkling water. Go ahead and nibble the cheese and crackers, because pretty soon you’ll gravitate to a white linen-draped table facing a small stage below walls decked with layers of paintings and photographs by Vineyard artists.
The show is about to begin. Or maybe you’re part of the show, as you unfold your printed-out poem or essay.
As the lights dim and the myriad candles burn ever more brightly, you may be reminded of Joel Gray as the elfin moderator of the Berlin tavern in “Cabaret” as he sings “Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome …”
It all started as a gleam in the eye of the late choreographer, philanthropist, and Chilmark summer resident Marianne Goldberg, who told this paper four years ago, “Wintertime on the Vineyard is when you concentrate on creative projects. I want artists to have a place to meet.” Inaugurated in 2010, the Pathways Gathering Center opened its doors and kept the lights on from December to mid-April.
Then tragedy struck. Ms. Goldberg died in the fall of 2015. But, in an amazing final and yet continuing act of the salonista’s dream, the gathering space itself, and its top staff of Scott Crawford, Keren Tonnesen, and Tanya Augoustinos, received a golden legacy to continue operations.
The artful triumvirate has assembled a cast of Island writers, poets, composers, dancers, and filmmakers in a colorful schedule of events. Already the cozy tavern has hosted such nights as a December music event with Willy Mason, Isaac Taylor, Alex Karalekas, and songwriter Seamus Galligan from Fairhaven. Even in this intensely cold weather we’ve endured, the tavern on this night was standing room only. The week before that, the fabled Cleaveland House poets read their latest work.
“Pathways Arts provides a much-needed space where artists can experiment and push the boundaries of expression in their chosen art form, in a nurturing and supportive environment,” Ms. Augoustinos pointed out in a recent email. “The lighting has been upgraded to theater quality, creating a true performance living-room atmosphere, very intimate. The sound system too has been refined, and I’d say it’s the closest we’ve come to a true performance art space, albeit on a small scale, and seasonal.”
The number of collaborations between artists who have performed at Pathways steadily grows each year, which is what Ms. Goldberg had hoped would happen. She envisioned artists planting “creative seeds” in each other’s minds, where “cross-forms” would be birthed. On a recent Saturday night, David Stanwood collaborated with Corinne DeLangevant, the former experimenting with sounds from his piano in predictable and very unpredictable ways, the latter building a narrative through abstract movement.
Also in the pipeline, says Ms. Augoustinos: “Graham Smith has been collaborating with Justen Ahren and Dana Edelman, as Justen’s spoken word piece on ‘displacement’ evolves. Graham has been experimenting with digital art forms, Justen is using photography to enhance his poetry, and Dana crafts a soundscape that weaves in and out of the experience.”
Ms. Tonnesen says that they are able to bring Ms. Goldberg’s dreams to fruition more and more each year.
For those of us who long for more to do in the off-off season, it pays to follow the listings in the Calendar section of The MV Times for Pathways events, some of them happening twice or even thrice weekly. You’re heartily invited to mark up your calendars for any and all of the following activities:
This coming Friday, Jan.12, musicians Mike Kerr, Sean McMahon, John O’Toole, and Rick Padilla come together for a rock music event at Pathways. Folks can start gathering from 6:30 pm for light refreshments. The music evenings take place regularly up through April.
Then, on Tuesday, Jan. 16, a Martin Luther King Jr.–themed evening is planned, with an open-floor invitation for guests to perform. Thursday, Jan. 19, Ed Grazda leads discussion of his photography book, “Mean Streets NYC.” There will be a conversation and a screening preview of “The Ravenite,” a documentary directed by Dennis Mohr and Morgan Schmidt-Feng.
The Martha’s Vineyard Poets Collective present its third annual reading by group members, led by Jill Jupen, with Margaret Emerson, Nan Byrne, Ellie Bates, Tom Durawa, Amaryllis Douglas, and others on Jan. 23. An open ode to Valentine’s Day is planned for Tuesday, Feb. 13, and novelist John Hough Jr. brings his writers’ group to Pathways on Feb. 20.
Among the popular programs at Pathways are the Multi-Arts Collaborative events. These evenings feature digital media, music, spoken word, dance, and collaborations between art forms. Ms. Goldberg always loved the collaborative projects, where a new means of expression sometimes happens spontaneously.
The Pathways Gallery features framed monotypes by Leslie Baker, acrylic paintings by Alejandro Carréno, and mixed-media works by Cody Jephcote. The Art Gifts and Bookshelf offers jewelry by Leah Crosby, gift cards by Holly Wayman, CDs by local musicians, and books by Ed Grazda, Peter Simon, Sam Low, Fan Ogilvie, Justen Ahren, and many others.
The Pathways space is open daily at the Chilmark Tavern from 11 to 5 pm, except Wednesdays and Sundays. Free Wi-Fi is available, and the community is invited to use the room as a gathering place to read, meet to discuss art projects, or for rehearsal for upcoming events.
So, sure, it’s a long, dark lonely drive, but you might find yourself heading to the Chilmark Tavern often, as you become more and more familiar with this very Vineyard artists’ gathering.
For more information, visit pathwaysmv.org or contact Scott Crawford or Keren Tonnesen at 508-645-9098.
This article by Holly Nadler originally appeared on mvtimes.com.