For some Islanders, one positive outcome of the pandemic has been the motivation it provided to spend more time in the great outdoors. Many of us have found the past year to be a time to reconnect with nature, whether through discovering new nature trails, making our backyards and decks a true extension of our homes, or getting creative by exploring new fresh air options for meeting with friends and family safely.
One such ideal gathering spot can be found just off Barnes Road in Oak Bluffs. The Featherstone Center for the Arts is situated on over six acres of rolling terrain that features gardens, outdoor sculptures, a meditation labyrinth, a scattering of picnic tables and benches and a large lush meadow area perfect for strolling, picnicking or doing cartwheels — if you’re so inclined. The campus is also surrounded by Land Bank property and a vast trail network.
A pasture in the front of the sprawling multi-structure campus is home to a cow and her calf, a nice bucolic touch that provides a welcoming glimpse of the pastoral haven to be found by driving just a few yards beyond the main road to one of two spacious parking lots.
With all of this glorious outdoor space, it’s not surprising that the folks who run the nonprofit arts center have made efforts over the years to offer all types of al fresco activities and entertainment. So, for those looking for a way to enjoy the arts in an open air setting, a visit to the Featherstone campus may just be the perfect remedy for COVID cabin fever.
Although the 2021 schedule is somewhat in flux, due to the constantly changing pandemic landscape, a few of Featherstone’s long standing initiatives will definitely be a go this summer. The popular Musical Mondays series will kick off in June and run throughout the summer and fall. Every Monday evening, people of all ages gather in front of the Art Barn’s outdoor deck to enjoy live music by some of Island’s most beloved musicians. It’s a fun, informal evening, with picnicking welcome, and dancing highly encouraged. The Musical Mondays evenings have become a much-anticipated addition to the summer schedule, especially among families and others who want to enjoy entertainment outside of the bar scene.
As in the past few years, Featherstone will also offer jazz concerts on selected Thursday and Friday evenings. Enjoy music by jazz professionals from the Island and beyond, while soaking up the multi-sensory delights of nature.
Every Wednesday evening Featherstone, in collaboration with the M.V. Film Society, will host an outdoor movie on the lawn. A new tradition which began last summer, Richard Paradise, the film society’s director, will once again offer a range of films to enjoy al fresco. Bring a blanket or chair and don’t forget the popcorn.
Special one-off events scheduled for the great outdoors include the return of Summer Solstice festivities and a new Juneteenth celebration. Both will feature music, poetry readings, and more. All are welcome to attend free of charge.
As always, this summer Featherstone will offer a variety of weeklong day camp options including an art and nature discovery series for ages 3 to teens, as well as those focusing on printmaking, photography, and filmmaking. Some are held indoors, while others allow participants to work and play outside.
A number of indoor events will take place this summer in the spacious well-ventilated Art Barn. These include a the Summer Festival of Poetry, the weekly Tuesday evening photography salon (in the photography studio), an artist speaker series and, in September, the three-day Islanders Write event, featuring talks and panel discussions with local and internationally renowned writers from near and far.
Along with this summer’s calendar chock full of happenings, Featherstone will also be offering a rotating series of gallery shows and a full schedule of in-person classes in painting, drawing, printmaking jewelry, ceramics, and more. “The campus is alive and well this year,” says director Ann Smith. “We plan to offer a wide range of in-person programming outside and safely indoors.”
Check out the Featherstone website for information on all of the events, classes, and gallery shows on offer at featherstoneart.org.