On Tuesday evening, weavers and woodworkers, hair stylists and musicians traveled from all corners of the Island to celebrate the launch of Jane Dreeben’s book, The Urge to Create: 50 Vineyard Portraits. The event took place at Featherstone Center for the Arts, where many of the artists have shown their work or performed.

The book is a compilation of the artistic community of the Vineyard, but in Ms. Dreeben’s own words it only skims the surface of the many layers that make up the arts scene here.

The book is made up of 50 essays created from interviews with the artists along with their photographic portraits.

Jane Dreeben, author of The Urge to Create: Fifty Vineyard Portraits. — Timothy Johnson

Ms. Dreeben spent three years on the book, and in the process created a work of art in itself. She embraced the idea of art as inclusive and broad. In other words, anyone who creates is an artist and most artists who persist have talent.

Ms. Dreeben said she wanted to hold each artist up as an individual. To do this she let the essays remain raw. Painter and multimedia artist Basia Jaworska said that her talk with Ms. Dreeben felt like a free therapy session.

“She was a great interviewer,” Ms. Jaworska said.

The idea for the project surfaced 10 years ago. Ms. Dreeben did not have any specific epiphany, instead she took from what was around her with each interview leading to the next one. Ms. Dreeben said she wanted to also celebrate artists who worked outside of the traditional realm of art, and not just those for whom art is their livelihood.

“There are so many people here...many of them quietly doing amazing things,” Ms. Dreeben said.

Artists help celebrate at opening reception for the book. — Timothy Johnson

Ms. Dreeben has arts in her genes. Her mother was a singer, her aunt a photographer and writer, and her grandmother a dancer in the early 1900s. Ms. Dreeben said the book was influenced by The Family of Man, an exhibit first curated in 1955 at the MoMa by Edward Steichen — a precursor in a way to Humans of New York.

Weaver Julia Mitchell addressed the crowd on Monday. “There are more creative people on the Island per capita...it’s a magnet for creative energy,” she said.

Spiritual choir conductor and singer Jim Thomas grew up in Tennessee and his great-grandmother was born a slave. Ceramist, painter, sculptor, and teacher Washington Ledesma was born in Uruguay and was once told to become a professional soccer player. Johnny Hoy loved hitchhiking with a harmonica in his back pocket even before he knew how to play it. Sawyer Klebs began making shoes when he was on the track team.

“It’s a fertile landscape,” Ms. Dreeben said. “It creates a great environment for the arts...I can’t really say what the Island would be like without the arts.”

Jane Dreeben will give a book talk at the Chilmark Public Library on Wednesday, June 22, at 5 p.m.