Catboat Week is back for a second year of festivities on the Edgartown waterfront, paying tribute to the beamy, single-masted East Coast sailboat with a gallery exhibition, a boat parade, yacht racing, multiple parties and even a newly-created ice cream flavor.

The center of all this activity is the Old Sculpin Gallery on Dock street, once the workshop of renowned catboat builder Manuel Swartz Roberts (1881-1963), who launched his last boat in 1946 but remained a waterfront fixture until the early 1950s.

Curator June Schoppe. — Maria Thibodeau

“This is our heritage,” said painter June Schoppe, curator of the gallery’s annual catboat show, which made its debut last summer.

“There’s such a beautiful circle of connection, whether your art is in paint or photography or ceramics or you’re a boat builder,” Ms. Schoppe added. “These are seaworthy, beautiful works of art.”

The exhibit begins on Saturday, July 16, with an opening reception on July 17 from 5 to 7 p.m. It continues through next Friday, July 22.

According to Ms. Schoppe, this year’s exhibition is as much about the builder as it is about the boats, Stories abound of the master builder’s friendliness to anyone who stopped by, she said, from children whose toy sailboats needed repair to the plein air artists who brought their easels and sketchbooks to the waterfront — and sometimes right into the shop, to capture Mr. Swartz at work.

“He was just that kind of guy,” Ms. Schoppe said, speaking with the Gazette by phone Wednesday morning.

Opening reception is Sunday, July 17 from 5 to 7 p.m. — From a painting by Kurt Peterson

Mr. Roberts and the artists became so well acquainted that when it came time for him to retire in the early 1950s, a group of them banded together as the Martha’s Vineyard Art Association to raise money and buy his workshop.

“It seemed like a natural fit,” Ms. Schoppe said.

In 1954, the new art association paid $15,000 for the building, which in later years would become an icon of its own as the model for shark hunter Quint’s shack in the blockbuster movie Jaws.

It was longtime Gazette writer Joseph Chase Allen (1892-1981), who had nicknamed Mr. Roberts “the Old Sculpin,” after a wide-mouthed local fish, Ms. Schoppe said.

“He’s definitely not the most handsome man, but his smile would light up the whole town,” she said. “He just grinned for days.”

Mr. Roberts also was a counselor for people in trouble, Ms. Schoppe said, even when their woes went deeper than a broken spar or a holed bottom.

“He tried to solve people’s problems … he would sit down and talk with them,” she said.

To honor Mr. Roberts as builder, community member and benefactor, the new Old Sculpin exhibition includes images and tools from his workshop as well as more than 40 catboat photographs and paintings by some 25 Island artists, Ms. Schoppe said. More of Mr. Roberts’s tools will be displayed at the nearby Carnegie on North Water street, she added.

“His hands held these things for countless hours in producing these beautiful pieces of catboat artistry,” Ms. Schoppe said.

Exhibit also pays homage to legendary catboat builder Manuel Swartz Roberts. — From a painting by Eva Cincotta.

An audiovisual station in the gallery will play oral histories, conducted by Linsey Lee of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, with people who knew Mr. Roberts during his lifetime, Ms. Schoppe said.

Gallery visitors will even be able to hear Mr. Roberts tell his story in his own words — though the voice will be that of Island artist Marsden Clough, who recorded a first-person narrative that appeared in the Gazette in 1959, she said.

The gallery also has a soundtrack for Saturday’s parade of sail, which begins at noon after a 10 a.m. public coffee hour with catboat captains and crews at the gallery.

Posted on the Old Sculpin Gallery website for download or QR capture, the hour-long recording was created by WMVY’s Ray Whitaker, who blended music and narration to tell the story of the classic catboats as they pass in review.

“I think we have 18 boats in the parade this year, up from 14 last year,” Ms. Schoppe said. “A lot of vintage boats are participating.”

Following the procession of sail — from Katama Narrows, past the downtown waterfront and out to Edgartown Outer Harbor — the boats will race for the Manuel Swartz Roberts Cup, which is actually a catboat half-model hull carved by the master himself, Ms. Schoppe said.

Events include a procession of sail and a root beer float social. — from a painting by Margaret Emerson.

In addition to the gallery reception on there are events scheduled for the week to come including a root beer float social for young sailors and their families, Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Ms. Schoppe said. The ice cream is being provided by Mad Martha’s, which is launching a new flavor, she said.

“Catboat Crunch will be the flavor of the week at all the [Mad Martha] stores,” Ms. Schoppe said.

Catboat Week also is venturing to Vineyard Haven for a talk Tuesday night at Gannon & Benjamin Marine Railway, where Mr. Roberts’s 1912 catboat Old Sculpin was refurbished over the winter to be ready for this year’s parade and race.

Ms. Schoppe was present last week for the 110-year-old boat’s relaunching, which she called “a goosebump moment.”

Boat builder Nat Benjamin and skipper Kurt Peterson of the Edgartown catboat Tigress will speak at the Tuesday event, for which tickets are required, Ms. Schoppe said.

More information about Catboat Week is available by emailing