A Brief History of Featherstone Center for the Arts
• Meetinghouse for the Arts was formed as a not-for-profit arts organization in 1980 to promote the arts and develop community through the arts.
• Early functions were held in Wintertide at Five corners in Vineyard Haven
• In the 1990’s Meetinghouse began to look for a new and more permanent home.
• Two of its board members were artists – Mary Stevens and Virginia Besse.
• For many years Featherstone Farm had been a horse farm owned and operated by the Bannerman family. Many Vineyard families took horseback riding lessons here.
• The owners in the 1990’s - Mary Stevens and her husband Bill were considering selling their 24 acre horse farm. Mary wanted her farm to become an art center- not a condo development.
• Virginia Besse convinced her husband Arthur to donate the majority of the funds to purchase six and a half acres of Featherstone Farm. There were other donors who helped raise the $300,000 to purchase land for an arts center.
• In August 1996 The MV Land Bank purchased eighteen acres which they lease to farmers – hence the cow pasture in the front and garden plots in the back and through which they provide public walking trails.
• In August 1996 Meetinghouse for the Arts purchased the six and half acres which had the six buildings of the horse farm.
• Meetinghouse for the Arts had to rehabilitate the land and the buildings and reclaim them from horse buildings to an art center.
• Earliest exhibits were held in the horse barn stalls in 1995 and 1996
• The horse barn became the photography lab, monoprinting and weaving studio.
• The brood mare barn became the pottery studio.
• The lower barn became the studio for woodworking and stained glass.
• The Studio was Mary’s studio on top and her daughter’s pottery studio below. Her daughter Sherry had built the outdoor kiln.
• The farmhouse became the gallery, library and computer lab.
• The very smallest building - The Pebble - was once a beauty shoppe that was torn down and rebuilt as an artist-in-residence facility and is now used as additional classroom and auxiliary exhibit space.
• In 2002 the Meetinghouse for the Arts officially became Featherstone Center for the Arts. After all, it is on Featherstone Farm…
• For many years Peggy Pinney served as the Executive Director and Chair of the Board and led the task of creating the land and buildings into an art center.
• In 2003 Francine Kelly became the first paid Executive Director and has grown the programming and visibility of the center.
• Teaching artists are paid by the hours they teach.
• Featherstone is supported by income from classes, gallery sales, grants, fundraisers and private donations.
• The center is governed by an active board which developed new by-laws, term limits and clearer, more precise governance guidelines in October 2007.
• The board meets monthly on the second Wednesday of each month. Featherstone, the island's only year-round non-profit arts center, celebrates 15 very fruitful years of bringing art, in a myriad of forms, to island audiences and participants.
Featherstone's Charter Donors
Featherstone Center for the Arts Mission
Featherstone is a community arts center on Martha’ s Vineyard which provides excellent
year-round arts programs for Vineyarders and visitors of all ages.
Featherstone has become a destination providing inspiration, education and creative
nourishment on six acres of rambling meadows, galleries and studios which was once
• Year round gallery shows
• Art instruction by gifted, talented and dedicated teachers
• Adult art classes
• Free after-school programs for teens
• Art classes for children
• Pre-school and family arts programs
• Children’ s summer art camps
• Artist-in-residence programs
• Media Center
• Outdoor musical performances
• Flea & Fine Arts Market
• Lecture Series
• Summer Poetry Readings
• The Art of Chocolate Festival
• Annual Holiday Gift Show
• Outdoor Labyrinth
• Sculpture Garden
• Opportunities for partnerships and collaborations
• Opportunities for artists to create and belong to an arts community
Featherstone Center for the Arts is a year-round community arts center- a place of inspiration, education and creative nourishment.
Featherstone Center for the Arts at a GlanceThe Martha's Vineyard Artistic Outlet
With gallery shows, classes and workshops, art camps, evenings of music and poetry, and special events, Featherstone has been the living beating heart of the Vineyard art scene for over a decade now. Starting out in 1980 as the Meetinghouse of Martha's Vineyard, with a mission to sponsor and encourage community involvement in the arts. Meetinghouse found a home, and a name, when the center, in partnership with the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank Association, acquired the farm in May 1996. Meetinghouse changed its name to Featherstone in 2002. Featherstone celebrated its fifteenth anniversary in 2011 with a big birthday bash on Saturday, August 6th.
Watched over by a cow, the six acre parcel devoted to the Arts Center, maintains the feel of a working farm. Situated among unspoiled woods and meadows, the center's five buildings house studios, show space and offices. The farmhouse has been converted into a gallery and office space, the main barn, once used as stable for horses, has been transformed into a lofty artist's studio for photography, printmaking and weaving. A tool barn was reinvented as a workshop for woodworking, stained glass and metalwork. What was once the stable for breed mares and their foals is now the Pottery Studio. On the grounds is an outdoor, wood-fired, brick kiln.
Budding artists/artisans/musicians can explore a diversity of crafts through the Center's many workshops led by professionals in a variety of artistic fields. Along with drawing, painting and photography classes, Featherstone's adult offerings include ceramics, sculpture, jewelry, felting, quilting, knitting, printmaking, tapestry, poetry, writing, mixed media, and technology.
Art For Kids and Teens
Our children's art offerings include: week-long art camps in the summer as well as weekday and Saturday art classes in the fall, winter and spring. Preschoolers to young teens can participate in daily, age appropriate art related activities. After school programs in photography, ceramics, and printmaking are offered free to teens during the school year.
Musical Mondays take place during the summer, spotlighting local musicians in a bucolic outdoor setting.
Flea and Fine Arts Market
Summer Pottery Readings
Tuesday, July 23 at 7 pm: John Koethe
Friday, August 9 at 7 pm: Billy Collins