Walk into the Simon Gallery on Main street in Vineyard Haven and co-owner Ronni Simon will most likely be knitting or crocheting. Her repertoire includes scarves, shawls, ponchos, sweaters, shirts, bracelets, cuffs, earrings and necklaces. The crotchet hook is like a third hand for her.
Lately, however, she has put aside the soft yarns and thin jewelry wires and covered her desk with rolls of metal wire and jars of colorful glass beads. Mrs. Simon has been working on a sculpture installation to be unveiled at the Capawock Theatre in Vineyard Haven on Saturday, August 31. The sculpture is a triptych with each piece measuring nine feet by two feet and covered with hundreds of maroon, crimson and tangerine beads shaped like spinning tops, baby carrots and miniature Japanese lanterns. It will hang outside the theatre on the southward facing side wall facing the open lot.
“I’m ready for the yellows and greens,” Mrs. Simon said on Wednesday, nodding at boxes full of more glass beads. “I’m a little sick of the oranges and reds.”
For the project she ordered more than 90 pounds of glass beads from India to weave into the crocheted metal.
On Wednesday afternoon the completed blue panel full of aqua, cobalt and periwinkle beads lay folded like a blanket on the floor. The orange section will be finished soon enough, she said.
“I don’t keep track of time,” she said. “It’s my passion!”
Mrs. Simon looped another bead onto the wire.
“Okay, that’s good,” she said. She moved back a little to view the big picture. ”Well, actually, one more.”
She picked a brick red bead and weaved it between the others.
“I’m most excited to see it in natural light. None of my other sculptures have natural light.”
Mrs. Simon began creating sculptures after having an excess of inexpensive beads from her crocheted jewelry designs — also a self-taught venture. She crocheted malleable palettes for the sculptures out of wire, just as she does with her jewelry.
“I got really into sculptures because it gave me so much freedom, as with jewelry everything always has to fit properly. It’s liberating as an artist to deal with form but not worry about function.”
This triptych will be by far her largest sculpture, and her first public work of art.
“Not everybody walks into an art gallery,” Mrs. Simon said. “So this might turn those people on to art who wouldn’t normally walk into a gallery.”
The Capawock Movie Theatre is a place Mrs. Simon has come to know quite well over the years. She has lived on the Vineyard for more than 30 years, and worked on Main street for the past six. She passes the theatre almost daily.
“Now there’s the clock in front of it and it’s been painted, so it doesn’t look so bad. But it was an eyesore. It was just a blank wall begging for something on it.”