Last fall, Nancy Cole the education director of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum visited the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. When she returned she and the assistant curator of the museum, Anna Carringer, came up with an idea for a new exhibit.

“We thought it would be fun to try out a portrait competition with Island artists and Island subjects,” Ms. Carringer remembered.

Colleague Bonnie Stacey added, “We had no idea we’d get such a great response!”

Thus, the Island Faces Portrait Competition was born.

The call went out to Vineyard artists and photographers, 15 years of age or up, to submit portraits created strictly for this event, accompanied by a 200 words-or-less written statement defining the artist’s relationship to the subject and the subject’s context within the Island.

Beside a painting of Oak Bluffs chef, caterer and man-about-town, Marvin Jones, artist Jeanie Primm Jones wrote “The Great Marvini.” She went on to explain, “because he is everybody’s friend, cool and laid-back.”

A photo of a man emblazoned by a peacock display of American flags, the work entitled The Flagman, by Patrick Cashin, is captioned, “While on the Island for the 4th of July, I decided to go to Edgartown to view the parade. I started taking pictures of The Flagman who was marching down Main street, enjoying himself and the day.”

Sixty submissions were presented to the museum and four jurists were assembled to cull the number down to nineteen portraits for the exhibit. The judges were Michael Hunter of PikNik in the Oak Bluffs Arts District, Steve DiRado, photography lecturer at Clark University, Carol Craven, owner of her own gallery in Vineyard Haven, and Francine Kelly, executive director emerita of Featherstone Center For The Arts.

These nineteen portraits will be presented at a reception today, June 15, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the museum.

“Some of the artists will be bringing their subjects,” Ms. Carringer said.

The Island Faces exhibit is housed in the northeast gallery in the main building, a pleasant enough spot for an array of Vineyarders whom we either know or know of, to spend some time.

In an oil-on-linen painting by James Langlois, fisherman Andy Goldman, clad in bright yellow waders, stands in a boat on a deep blue sea, with the Aquinnah cliffs far behind him.

Artist Leslie Baker captured Katherine Long, white hair parted at her forehead, wearing wire-rimmed glasses, and holding a white chicken tucked under her sturdy arm.

In a photo called Wasque Cottager, Rebecca Read Shanor caught herself in a pensive mood, explaining in her statement that she was regrouping on Chappaquiddick between surgeries for a brain tumor.

A photograph of Olga Hirshhorn by Michael McCaskey, captures the philanthropist’s timeless beauty in her pale blue eyes and gentle smile.

Other artists in the exhibit include Rez Williams, Traeger di Paetro, Sadie Dix, Elizabeth Whelan, Jeanne Staples and Barbara Lee Bodin.

The public will also get a say in the competition. Visit to cast your vote for one of the 41 entries there. Voting will be conducted through Columbus Day.

On Oct. 15, the 19 portraits in today’s exhibit along with the 41 portraits online will be displayed at Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs.

The museum is located at the corner of Cooke and School streets in Edgartown. Visit