THE BLOG

A Rose for Martha's Vineyard

07/01/2014 11:39 am ET | Updated Aug 31, 2014
  • Jack Schimmelman Writer. Executive producer and director of new Martha's Vineyard opera entitled 1854.

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Rose Abrahamson, Photo by Kathleen Young. Used by Permission.

Rose Abrahamson illuminates life. She is a 93-year old artist living on Martha's Vineyard. She continues to create art, although today her work tends more toward collage made from found objects rather than actual painting. At 93, she has some physical limitations. Rose was not always a Vineyard resident. She was born in the Bronx, New York and grew up during the depression. She was one of six siblings. Her father was a gambler and wasted his family's modest income. Thus, Rose's family was constantly moving for lack of ability to pay rent. Somehow her mother was able to feed them, but Rose vividly remembers bread lines. So how did this modest, beautiful woman make the journey from a poverty-stricken childhood to a comfortable, elegant, yet simple life on Martha's Vineyard?

The earliest memory Rose has of creating art was when she was five-years old. She would sit with pencils in her hand and draw and draw until she was exhausted. Her mother used to say that if you put a pencil in Rose's hand she may never eat again. When you see the word artist in the dictionary, a picture of Rose Abrahamson is its definition. No matter her family's economic circumstances, there would be nothing that could stand in the way of her destiny. The only question was how would life unfold so she could continue to live with that "pencil in her hand" which was her passport to realms breathing within her soul.

Rose's story is wondrous. She was lifted out of poverty when she met the love of her life, her husband, Lester Abrahamson. He asked her father for her hand in marriage and off they went on adventure after adventure. One of the first things they did was go to the capitals of Europe. In Paris, Rose found the embodiment of her fantasies. The city of lights pulsated with art and Rose's heartbeat harmonized with its radiance. Rose ever the open vessel soaked in the intense Parisian culture. They lived in Paris for a year, a part of a large group of American ex-pats writing, painting, alive in Paris. From Paris, Rose and her husband traveled throughout Europe and eventually returned to New York City. In New York, she enrolled in the only art school she would ever attend, the Art Students League. She not only painted, but she also modeled. Rose and her husband were a beautiful couple. Their love lit their path through eternity. His passing is one of several tragedies in Rose's life that she has overcome. In the Edgartown Council on Aging ("The Anchors"), there is a poster of an elegant 80+ year old woman in a bathing suit, which has these words -- "[g]rowing old is not for sissies." You must have courage. Rose is the essence of courage.

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Rose's Dream by Rose Abrahamson. Used by permission.

Eventually her husband had to move to D.C. as Rose went with him. During that time they visited Martha's Vineyard. Within a day or two, Rose announced to her husband that this was the place where she had to live and they should make the necessary changes to enable that to happen. Her husband, not being thrilled at the prospect of leaving his thriving financial business, agreed nevertheless. Love is our grand dictator. It worked out for the both of them. Lester found new ways to make a living, made lots of friends and Rose fit in quickly into a community that doesn't easily accept "wash ashores" (people who move to the Vineyard from off-island).

Once ensconced on the Vineyard in their own home, they both set out to make their lives together. Rose will tell you that nature exhales, inhales, thus creating the rhythm of life. And that the Vineyard has its unique music. This small girl from the Bronx, as urban as any landscape can be, naturally harmonized with the cadence of Island life. Her work began to grow, reflecting the poetry that is Martha's Vineyard. She collected in her home artifacts of her beloved island. Shells of every type adorn one section of her house, a loving shrine to grace. If you ever wonder why the rich and famous want a piece of this island, all you need to do is visit Rose Abrahamson's abode to understand in one modest setting how transcendent Vineyard life is.

Rose Abrahamson awakened on her beloved island. The first time I met her, she was 92. When she walked into the room, it was like an exquisitely formed flower had suddenly opened in front of my eyes, fully bloomed. She embodied her name. When you meet this woman you cannot help but fall in love. She personifies light.

Rose has exhibited in several Martha's Vineyard galleries and continues to do so. She has no agent, but she sells quite well. When people see her art, they are struck by her vivid sense of composition and use of color that she employs. Her range is phenomenal, from abstract to representational to sculpture and collage.

Rose once said that she has a "collective imagination." This 93-year young woman has ascended to a level of love and acceptance. Her journey is our future. Our past. Our present. The alpha and omega.

These days, every other week Rose threatens to stop creating art. She claims to be too old. The only problem with that statement is that she has never been able to put down her "pencil." She is fearless. If you come to Martha's Vineyard, forget the glitz and wealth of which you may see glimpses. The true richness of the island resides in one talented, gracious lady - Rose Abrahamson, Artist.

See what Rose has to say about Martha's Vineyard and her art by clicking here.

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To Russia with Love by Rose Abrahamson. Used by permission.