A Decade of Christmas Trees




The Holiday 2016 issue of Review Nantucket includes a retrospective of a decade of Christmas decorations I’ve created for clients, showhouses, and the Nantucket Whaling Museum’s Festival of Trees. It was wonderful to look back on a body of work that was a joy to create, but truly ephemeral. I’m so glad to have captured the beauty of these holiday tableaus with photography. They inspire me again when I see them–I hope they bring you fresh inspiration, too!




There’s something so touching about Christmas trees. It’s not just the beauty of the lights and the ornaments. It’s the tradition of creating a magical display that stands for something bigger than ourselves: a renewal of light and love, and the memories of all the Christmases we’ve celebrated through the years.




For many years, my Senior Designer Price Connors and I have created a new theme for a Christmas tree at the Festival of Trees. Once we decide on an idea, we adorn a tree in a completely original style–we never repeat a design! One year, our inspiration was Vincent Van Gogh’s painting of Starry Night, so everything sparkled with stars.



We recreated his night sky by draping a table in deep blue fabric, using wide gauzy star ribbon as table runners, with tiny silver stars sprinkled on the tabletop. We added glittering star boxes tied with bows, and even a dish filled with blue and silver star candies.




I believe in expressing the spirit of Christmas differently each year. As important as tradition is, it’s also wonderful to let our celebrations evolve. It’s easy to fall back on decorating the same way every year, placing the same Santa’s on the mantel. But it’s also fun to create a fresh new look.




One of my favorite tableaus for the Whaling Museum was the Legend of the Snow Maiden, a Russian fairy tale brought to life with the maiden silhouetted in a white cathedral between two glittering trees hung with icicles. That one was especially meaningful to me and to my father, because we are of Russian heritage.




Winter seems to awaken my imagination. As snow begins to fall, my thoughts to turn to twinkling lights, the sparkle of crystal in candlelight, roses and ribbons, and cherished china. One traditional decoration I love is the gingerbread house, which has appeared in my decorations as historic houses on Nantucket, and my own home. The most elaborate creation was made to my specifications by Colette’s Cakes in New York–a reproduction of the famous St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow!




The tree that accompanied it was entitled A Russian Christmas Fantasy. The tree was a splendor in red and gold, with red glass balls, golden ribbons and over 50 handmade Russian ornaments. There were Russian Cossacks, snowflakes, Faberge eggs and matryoshka dolls (the traditional nesting dolls), all delicately hand painted in festive fashion.




The real blessings and bounty of the season, though, are found in family and friends. I love simple stockings hanging by the fireplace. For our family gatherings, we encourage each other to give generously to charities, saving the gaily wrapped packages for the children, Vidal and Baby Richard. I find Christmas everywhere I look in December, but mostly, I find it in our hearts.



G. G., Tuffy, and Ellie snuggle near the fire



Guest Post by Robert Dane, Master Glass Artist


I asked my good friend Bob Dane to share with us some of his inspiration and experiences as an artist and master glass blower, part of my continuing series on artists and their work. He kindly agreed. Please click on the link below to enjoy the music of Mongo Santamaria and Afro Blue while you read this post:

I have been blowing glass for over forty years, starting at Massachusetts College of Art in 1973. Over the years I have studied with many of the masters of the Studio Glass Movement, including Lino Tagliapietra, Pino Signoretto, Dan Dailey, Dante Marioni, and William Morris. My work is created in my studio in Heath, Massachusetts, in the northern Berkshires of western Massachusetts. My wife, Jayne, directed a high school music program until 1996, when we opened our gallery on Centre Street on Nantucket. The Dane Gallery shows my work, and the work of some of the top artists working in glass today.


My artistic evolution spans years of working in the studio and learning from colleagues. The themes I have always focused on are of a continuum revolving around life and growth. There is an inherent optimism in my work, which I have tried to reinforce in the face of a seemingly constant barrage of negativity and pessimism coming at us from many sources. The beauty of Nature in its many forms continues to inspire me and inform my work. We are often too absorbed by the day to day of our own small existence to visualize and recognize the grand scheme, which is transpiring around us. My aim is to celebrate the beauty of the progression of life as it ever unfolds and reveals itself.

Dane Raised Cane Vases copy

Raised Cane Vases

Another source of my inspiration is music. For many years I have studied Afro-Cuban percussion. The music of the community is reflected in my sculpture. Traditional, folkloric Afro-Cuban music and Jazz share the same spirit of improvisation as glassblowing. When I’m playing in a group, I respond to what the other musicians are doing to create a whole. Something of that improvisation is found in my glass studio, where I work with three assistants. We all have to respond to each other’s movements, timing, and actions to create the finished piece. The horn form, which I have used in many of my sculptures, is a tribute to the improvisational nature of the music and a potent symbol of our culture. The titles of these sculptures are taken from different Jazz tunes.

Dane Sculpture Rejoice copy


My production work is influenced by the Italian tradition of glassblowing, but has a distinctly American flavor. Vibrant colors and the spontaneous improvisation of these unique designs distinguish my work in a two thousand year tradition of glassblowing. My “Tutti Frutti Goblets” are all one of a kind, spontaneous expressions of life’s pleasures. As in any group, no two are like. When they are together, they enhance each other’s presence, creating a unique and beautiful experience. My goblets are very functional, and they set a beautiful table. I celebrate the communion I share with the people who drink from my glasses.

Dane Tutti Frutti Wine-Powder Twist copy

Tutti Frutti Wine Goblets

Glass is a very common material, but at the same time it is mysterious and exciting. It is made primarily from sand mixed with other chemicals,to make the silica melt at a lower temperature (2000 degrees F), and to give the glass certain working and visual properties. In the studio, the fire, the movement, and the need to be constantly focused on the process have sustained my love affair with this amazing material. I am constantly learning new techniques as I work. With glassblowing, there is always a sense of discovery that is truly endless.

Dane Tutti Frutti Water Glasses copy

Tutti Fruiti Water Goblets

Another reason glass appeals to me is that the tools and the processes we are using today basically haven’t changed over the last thousand or more years. We’re living in a techno-industrial society, but we’re carrying on this tradition, perpetuating the culture of handmade things. A glass blower from a thousand years ago could sit at my bench today and know exactly what to do. Glass does not deteriorate. It is fragile yet strong. The pieces that survive are a record of our culture and history, as they have been for thousands of years.

Dane Three Birds Candelabra copy

Three Birds Candelabra

This summer will be an exciting one for glass and art on Nantucket. The Dane Gallery is proudly sponsoring a return visit by the Hot Glass Roadshow of the Corning Museum of Glass. (www.hotglassnantucket.org) All of the proceeds from “Hot Glass Nantucket 2016” will directly benefit the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club, a vital island organization dedicated to the education and development of the youths of Nantucket. So far we have raised almost $200,000 to support the programs of the Club.



The Hot Glass Roadshow is a portable glassblowing facility dedicated to bringing the artistry and education of glassmaking to the general public. “Hot Glass Nantucket 2016” will be a great opportunity for the Nantucket Community to experience the mystery and excitement of glassblowing firsthand. The focal point of the program will be “You Design It; We make it!” Children will participate by designing and drawing a glass object. Over the course of the weekend, designs will be chosen to be created in glass by the Corning glassblowers. This will be a unique and special experience that they will never forget. In addition, we will present glassblowing demonstrations by artists represented in our gallery: Raven Skyriver, Toots Zynsky, and myself. See their work at www.danegallery.com, and my work at www.robertdane.com.

Here are a couple of videos to get a sense of what we do in the hot shop:


Raven Skyriver: https://vimeo.com/96101947

Robert Dane: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxwpLb16hpw


Remembering David Hostetler

David carving Lacewood copy

David Hostetler 1926-2015

Part of a Continuing Series on Nantucket Artists

Art touches us in so many ways: it adds beauty, opens our eyes and hearts, helps us see our world in a new way, and not least, is a legacy to the artist whose work is left behind on earth for new generations. David Hostetler, who passed away in November, was a wood carver and bronze sculptor of works capturing the female form, whose career spanned 69 years. He and his wife, Susan Crehan Hostetler, spent the winter months on a 40 acre farm in Ohio, and summers on Nantucket. Nantucket is home to the Hostetler Gallery, which will remain open, where Susan will continue to sell Hostetler art..

hostetler gallery

David played drums in his own jazz band on the island, too. That’s the wonderful thing about artists. It’s hard to pin them down. So often, they turn their hands and their talent to more than one discipline, as if the ideas that filled them had to spill over into other art forms or else overflow. Here’s how David explained it:

Summertime Lady

Summertime Lady

“My life centers around artful choices, the life rhythms, shapes and spaces, and their infinite combinations. My lover, my nest, carving on a log, drumming, woodland meditation and archery are involved. The coming together of art, rhythm, forms and space can be magic. The quest for this magic gives my life purpose and provides my joy of being.”

david hostetler 3

The IKON at The Sheffield on West 57th Street in New York City

David was the creator of a series of original works that were inspired by goddesses and celebrated women of historical significance, according to the artist.

Hostetler The Duo

The Duo can be seen at Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City. Although the heads are looking in different directions, the fused bodies speak of total commitment.

David said he based his entire life’s work on capturing the spirit, romance, and earthiness of the feminine.

david hostetler 4

“My 69 year art career has been a continuous quest of the nature of woman. It has led me from the contemporary woman as mother, wife, nurturer, to vamp, seductress, and queen. Now the journey harkens to the pre-biblical period, to ancient civilizations of women-centered societies. My focus is the Near East with Minoan, Cretin, and Cycladic imagery. Their ascendancy was from 12,000 to 500 BCE.”


Guardian, in Zebrawood

In a world where women’s bodies, rights, and intelligence are not universally honored, its is wonderful to see ourselves through David’s eyes. “The goddess represents the all-encompassing power of woman, the manifestation of humanity as a part of a whole, part of the cosmos and part of nature: an image that men and women can embrace equally.”

david carving

His ideals found beautiful fruition in his works, which appear in more than 25 museums and galleries, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey, and the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. His pieces are found in public collections from Nantucket to New Mexico to the Netherlands.

davids studio

David’s Studio in Athens, Ohio

Born in Ohio, David had a close relationship with his Amish grandfather, an influence that remained with him throughout his life. After graduating with a BA in Education from Indiana University, he obtained a Masters of Fine Arts from Ohio University, then taught for 38 years. In addition to his artwork and teaching, he trained as an engineer, worked as a farmer and a salesman, owned a commercial pottery factory, and created an art commune.

david and susan hostetler

David and Susan Hostetler

His contributions to the world of art are many and diverse. David was an integral member of the Nantucket community. He will be missed. A memorial will be held to celebrate his life on July 17th at the Hostetler home on Nantucket.

david hostetler

Nantucket’s Cranberry Festival by Jim Lentowski


A Guest Post by Nantucket Conservation Foundation

Executive Director Jim Lentowski

The island’s cranberry harvest is a sight to behold and celebrated annually by thousands of islanders and visitors at the Foundation’s one-day Cranberry Festival held at the Milestone Cranberry Bog on Saturday, October 6 (11am – 4pm). We invite you to see berries being harvested, learn about the history of cranberry farming on Nantucket, participate in the family activities, or just relax and enjoy the setting and the spectacular autumn scenery of one of the most historic and memorable places on the Island.


It’s the fall season on Nantucket, a time when after several stimulating months of high-season excitement, the remote island and its year-round residents return to a more relaxing, more normal pace.

With shorter days and cooling temperatures the island’s largest landowner, the nonprofit Nantucket Conservation Foundation, pays special attention to its responsibilities as the steward of its two active cranberry bogs.  Established in 1963, the member-supported Foundation protects nearly 30% — 9,000 acres — of Nantucket for all to enjoy and learn from!  Its holdings include the 195 acre Milestone Road Cranberry Bog, a place where traditional cranberry culture has taken place since 1857, and the 25 acre certified organic Windswept Cranberry Bog.  Both bogs are revealing their fall colors – a rich maroon hue of the ripening fruit often back dropped during this season by intense, cloudless blue skies.

The magic of these natural processes is heightened during the October to mid-November harvest as sections of the bogs are systematically flooded and “water reeled” with the result that a solid layer of floating cranberries waits to be loaded into enormous trailers. These trucks will ultimately deliver to a mainland processor– via the freight boat and over the highway — more than 1,500,000 pounds of fruit.


Visitors, summer residents, and even long-time islanders are often surprised when they learn that the Milestone Bog is one of the oldest, continually operated farms on the Island. It is situated on a 1,060 acre conservation property owned and operated by the Foundation.

At the Milestone Bog there are 195 acres under cranberry cultivation with an additional 25 acres in production at the Windswept Bog on the Polpis Road. The Windswept Bog is especially notable because of its status as one of the few certified organic cranberry bogs in the country.

Cranberry Traditions on Nantucket

Cranberries have been grown on Nantucket since 1857 and were an important part of the Island’s economy until just prior to World War II. Before 1959, all 234 acres of the Milestone Bog were under cultivation, making it the largest contiguous natural cranberry bog in the world. Since that time, intensive efforts to conserve precious freshwater resources have resulted in the addition of ditches and dikes that subdivide the bog into smaller and more water-efficient units.These measures led to the Milestone Bog losing its status.

Since the early 1950’s, one Nantucketer has been synonymous with cranberry farming on the island — Tom Larrabee, Sr. Described as having “cranberry juice running through his veins,” Tom has managed the planting, growing, and harvesting of cranberries at the Milestone Bog for nearly 60 years. When visiting the bog there is an excellent chance that you will see Tom (pictured here) driving a “water reel.” You may also see his son, Tom Jr., who is now following in his dad’s footsteps, extending the 150+ year tradition of cranberry farming on Nantucket.



Two cups whole, unfrozen cranberries; 3/4 cup sugar; 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts); 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled; 1 large egg, beaten lightly; 1/2 cup all-purpose flour sifted with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg; confectioners’
sugar for garnish, vanilla ice cream as an accompaniment. Spread the cranberries in a well-buttered shallow 8-inch round baking dish. In a small bowl combine 1/4
cup of sugar, nuts, and 2 teaspoons of butter and sprinkle the mixture over the cranberries. In a bowl beat the egg with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until well combined, stir in the flour mixture, and add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Spread the batter over the cranberries in an even layer and bake the crisp in a preheated moderate oven (350° F.) for 45
minutes. Sift the confectioners’ sugar over the dessert and serve with the ice cream. Serves 6 to 8.


One cup fresh, unfrozen cranberries; 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar; 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into bits and softened; 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice.
In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the cranberries with the sugar. Add butter and lemon juice and blend the mixture until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover and chill until firm. Serve the butter on toast, waffles, or biscuits. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.


Two cups fresh or frozen whole cranberries; 1/2 cup sugar; 1 cup water; 1 package orange gelatin. Boil sugar and water for 5 minutes. Add cranberries and cook slowly without stirring until berries break open—about 5 minutes. Pour off liquid and add it to the gelatin. After the gelatin is fully dissolved, add 1 additional cup of water to this mixture. Add the cooked cranberries, pour into a mold and chill.


Two cups unfrozen cranberries, coarsely chopped; 1 1/4 cups sugar; 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg; 2 cups all-purpose flour; 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1 large egg, beaten lightly; 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled; 1 cup milk. In a heavy saucepan combine the cranberries, 1 cup of the sugar, and nutmeg and cook the mixture over high heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Cook the mixture, covered, for 3 minutes and cook it, uncovered, over low heat for 3 minutes more. Into a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and the salt. In a small bowl combine the egg, butter, and milk and stir this into the flour mixture until the batter is just combined. Divide the cranberry mixture among 16 well-buttered 1/3 cup muffin tins, top with the batter, and bake in a preheated hot oven (400°
F.) for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden. Let the muffins cool in the tins for 2 minutes, invert a serving dish over them, and flip the muffins onto it. Makes 16 muffins.

The Nantucket Conservation Foundation is a member-supported nonprofit organization. Jim Lentowski serves as its executive director.

Photo:  Mary Haft

For additional information visit us at: www.nantucketconservation.org

 All photos (except recipe photos and Jim Lentowski photo) courtesy of Jim Lentowski.





Nantucket Conservation Foundation – Manual


At last count, there were 120 non-profit organizations on Nantucket Island. That says a lot about the kind of people who love this island and call it their home. I’ve written before about some of the good work being done by Nantucket-based organizations and their efforts to preserve the beauty and richness of this little spit of land out in the sea.

One of my favorites is the Nantucket Conservation Foundation. Founded almost 50 years ago, the Foundation now manages 9,000 acres of property here. Its mission is to permanently conserve, maintain and manage natural areas and habitats and encourage an appreciation of the island’s natural resources.



Its doing a wonderful job. Four full-time scientists work with the Foundation to explore the future of fragile resources, and identify new ways to protect and preserve them. They are the caring stewards of our land, our beaches, our dunes and our uncommon heathlands. They protect wildflowers you might not have seen anywhere else, such as the New England blazing star, and the Eastern silvery aster.

They look out for ground-nesting birds, such as the rare northern harrier and migrating shorebirds that include the endangered piping plover. And not least to them, the least tern.

The walking trails, open roads and pastures we all take for granted are more than likely under the Foundation’s care as the island’s largest landholder. Its scientific research extends to the sheep grazing program you can witness for yourself at the Squam Farm property off of Quidnet Road.

I invite you to visit the Foundation at www.nantucketconservation.org to see how you might help them in its efforts to preserve the island for everyone.

Don’t Miss Two New Films that Celebrate the Natural Beauty of the Island!

“Nantucket by Nature” is a singular celebration of the Island’s natural graces, and is an official selection of the Nantucket Film Festival. Featuring never-before-seen images of grace and beauty, it provides an extraordinary four season glimpse of the splendors of the Island. Supported by a stirring and poignant score recorded by local musicians, “Nantucket By Nature” is a remarkable chronicle of the Island in all its natural, jaw-dropping glory.

Watch a trailer of this extraordinary film at www.nantucketfilms.com, or learn more at www.facebook.com/nantucketbynature.

You can purchase the DVD at Nantucket Bookworks Book Store for $24.95. Visit them at www.nantucketbookworks.com.

Another new film made exclusively for the Nantucket Historical Association by Emmy award-winning Ric Burns is simply called Nantucket. This original short film showcases the island’s natural beauty and its significant role in history. Commentary is provided by historians, islanders and writers, including New York Times best-selling author Nathaniel Philbrick, and long-time residents who share their personal stories and unique insights.

The film is being shown daily at the Whaling Museum, and can be purchased as a DVD at the Museum Shop or online for $19.95. Visit the NHA at www.nha.org.

August is Wonderful on Nantucket!

When you come to the world’s most beautiful island, it helps if you plan to have fun.  There is so much to do to support so many very worthy causes, and August is the month when celebrations are everywhere you turn.  One fundraiser that I support is Walk Now for Autism Speaks:

Nantucket Walks to Support Autism Speaks on August 20th

There are so many important organizations we can support with our time, with our resources, or simply with a caring hand.  One that I believe in and support is Autism Speaks.

While no one has all the answers yet, I have long believed that it is important to protect your family from environmental toxins. The Autism Research Institute at www.autism.com has information about studies showing the possible relationship between chemicals in our environment and developmental delays.

Autism is a complex developmental disability that causes problems with social interaction and communication, and is the fastest growing developmental disorder in the U.S.  Symptoms usually start before age three, and can cause delays or problems in many different skills, according to the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development.

For families with a child with an autism diagnosis, there are many concerns, including higher medical bills, special needs in school, and a struggle to provide the treatment and therapies to help each child grow into his or her best self.


Bob and Suzanne Wright discuss autism on Plum TV.


Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, grandparents of a child with autism.  The organization is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism, and to advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.

On Saturday, August 20th, thousands of islanders on Nantucket will turn out at Jetties Beach to help raise funds for vital research.  Walk Now for Autism Speaks can change the future for all who struggle with autism.  Join us!


Find out more at www.walknowforautismspeaks.org.

Don’t miss a  new film made exclusively for the NHA by Emmy award-winning Ric Burns, simply called Nantucket. This original short film showcases the island’s natural beauty and its significant role in history. Commentary is provided by historians, islanders and writers, including New York Times best-selling author Nathaniel Philbrick, and long-time residents who share their personal stories and unique insights.

The film is being shown daily at the Whaling Museum, and can be purchased as a DVD at the Museum Shop or online for $19.95.

August Race Week:  August 13-21

The eight day Race Week brings the entire Nantucket community together for regattas, award ceremonies and parties. There’s fun and sport for all age and sailing levels.  The week is hosted by the Nantucket Yacht Club and Great Harbor Yacht Club and benefits Nantucket Community Sailing.

Nantucket Race Week is proud to be a Clean Regatta as certified by Sailors for the Sea.

For more information, visit www.nantucketraceweek.org

Nature Conservancy Cocktail Party

Last but not least, Frank and I are pleased to host a cocktail party reception at our home on August 25th, to benefit the Nature Conservancy.  The Nature Conservancy works to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities of the earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive, in order to leave a sustainable world for future generations.

Dujardin Design Associates will provide the raw bar, food and beverages as our contribution to the evening and to the good work of the Conservancy.  Island caterer Simply with Style will make this a delicious and fun event!

For more information on how you can help this wonderful organization, visit www.nature.org.