Featherstone Center for the Arts was a flurry of activity Sunday afternoon as Islanders came out to see the opening of New Art Now, a collection of paintings and ceramics by a motley trio of artists.
Chioke R. Morais, Darcie Lee Hanaway and John Robert Hill met while working at the Oak Bluffs restaurant the Oyster Bar, and forged fast, lasting friendships that they said helped them land the show together at Featherstone.
“I’m the least important person in this room,” said Featherstone director Francine Kelly, laughing as she introduced the three artists responsible for the colorful display of paintings and pottery that filled the gallery walls and tables. Mr. Morais’s painted portrait of Adolf Hitler, titled Somebody’s Hero, dominated one corner, and his nearly floor-to-ceiling abstract three-dimensional painting greeted guests as they walked through the door. Ms. Hanaway’s smaller but no less bold paintings covered most of the space on adjacent walls, and Mr. Hill’s colorful ceramic bowls and ceramic-stemmed wine glasses were set against simple white display tables throughout the room.
Judging from their artwork, the three artists could not be more different. Their personalities and their backgrounds do even more to set them apart. Gathered on a bench outside the gallery Sunday, they stole a moment to talk briefly about their artwork and their connections to the Island. But they had to field regular interruptions from arriving guests, eager to meet the artists.
Mr. Morais was educated at the Parsons School of Design in New York, and displays the bulk of his artwork in Chicago. He moved full-time to the Vineyard two years ago with his wife and three daughters, who were among the interrupting crowd. His youngest, with a head full of curls, threw her arms around her father as her sisters passed out hugs to Ms. Hanaway and Mr. Hill.
Their connections to each other clearly extend beyond that of casual acquaintances. In fact, Mr. Hill and Mr. Morais recently embarked on another artistic endeavor together. They opened a new shop, called Made Here on the Vineyard, in Nevin Square. As the name suggests, the storefront features artwork created locally. Mr. Hill said they will also be regular vendors at the Featherstone Flea and Fine Arts Market, on Tuesdays this summer.
Ms. Hanaway moved to the Vineyard after several years of traveling back and forth between the East and West coasts. She had the largest collection of artwork on display in the show, and said she is highly influenced by electricity; several of her vibrant paintings featured images of power lines. “It’s process-driven work,” she said of her painting.
Mr. Hill said he’s been a “summer brat” on the Island since the 1970s, and moved here full-time three years ago. He has done both fine art and commercial work in ceramics, but said that he has recently shifted his focus back to mostly fine art.
The show runs through Wednesday, June 23 at Featherstone Center for the Arts.