As fishermen around the Island perfect the art of hooking the big one, artists on land are casting their talents into the mix to help raise money for the derby scholarship fund.
John Rice created this year’s derby poster, commemorating its 75th year. Sales of the poster’s image on prints and merchandise go directly to helping Island students.
Mr. Rice lives in Mount Kisco, N.Y. where he works as an illustrator for publications including Field and Stream and Outdoor Life. Years ago he was invited to the Vineyard by Lori and Ken Vanderlaske. They asked if he could do a painting for them in exchange for some time in the fall at their rental house in Menemsha. Mr. Rice happily agreed and enjoyed it so much it became an annual tradition, that and fishing the derby when he is here.
“I just fell in love with it,” he said. “We would fish Squibnocket just about all night long.”
Mr. Rice said he drew inspiration for this year’s poster from previous Ray Ellis paintings that decorated the covers of derby programs.
“With the fondness I have for the Island, that was what I looked forward to every year, seeing his artwork,” he said.
Derby committee member Wilson Kerr said Mr. Rice’s painting “is an absolute home run.”
Prints of the painting are available for purchase at the Boneyard in Edgartown. Mugs, sweatshirts and neck gators outfitted with the image are also available on the derby website (mvderby.com).
But the poster is not the only piece of artwork contributing to the derby scholarship fund. For the third year in a row, Island artists have teamed up with local businesses to create Bass in the Grass, an outdoor exhibit and auction located in the Edgartown mini-park featuring different renditions of striped bass using numerous artistic mediums and styles.
Chris Scott, treasurer of the derby, said Bass in the Grass is the largest single contributor to the derby’s scholarship fund, not counting private donations. Since its inception, the initiative has generated almost $40,000 for Island students. The artwork is available for bidding at bassinthegrassmv.com.
Bass in the Grass is an Edgartown Board of Trade initiative. Erin Ready, executive director of the Edgartown Board of trade, said the derby is something the board of trade has “always wanted to celebrate.” Half of the proceeds from the artist’s work goes to the artists, and the remaining half is split between the derby’s scholarship fund and the Edgartown Board of Trade.
According to Ms. Ready, in the first week of bidding alone over $10,000 in bids had been placed. There are over 20 different bass in this year’s collection — from Margot Datz’s mermaid rendition to Jessica Kovack’s ceramic bass to Susi White’s work made from epoxy and acrylic.
Leah Fraumeni, a derby committee member and contributing artist, created her bass out of stainless steel she cut, shaped, bent, hammered and torched to give it a patina finish.
Ms. Fraumeni said Bass in the Grass is a “nice way to honor the striped bass this year,” after stripers were removed from the derby to help preserve their dwindling population along the eastern seaboard.
“It’s funny that there’s no bass at the weigh-ins but there’s still bass in Edgartown. You can find them on Main street swimming around in the park,” she said.
The exhibit will be on display at the mini-park until Thursday, Oct. 8. After that the collection can be viewed at bassinthegrassmv.com. Bidding ends Sunday, Oct. 18.