Derby Evening, 2017 by
(323 Stories)

Prompted By Priciest Purchase

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by Jeanne Staples

David visited from London at the end of the summer, 2017. A large storm brewed off sea. It didn’t affect our weather, but churned up violent waves and such high tides that we had no beach, which forced its closure. We went over, just to look at the odd sight.

Due to storms out at sea, no beach in 2017.

So we trundled over to the lap pool at our club. We’d never sat there before, but it was pleasant. We swam, then sat in the lounge chairs with our reading material. I leafed through “Vineyard Magazine” and came across an ad for a gallery we enjoy: The Granary Gallery. The painting in the background was a night scene, moody, beautiful. The interiors eminated glowing light. This is Jeanne Staples’ hallmark. We were intrigued. Off to the left was a favorite restaurant on the bottom, our club on top. In the forefront was the building used to weigh in the fish caught each day during the annual MV Derby competition, a big deal competition with various categories for various fish, caught from a boat or surf-casting from shore and adult and child divisions. Grand prize was a large motor boat, suitable to fish from. We would occasionally go to watch the weigh-ins. All fish were cleaned, gutted and the meat donated to the island senior center.

Magazine ad for Granary Gallery, August, 2017

I loved the image as depicted in the ad, but didn’t know how large it was; was this the entire image? What were the dimensions? How much did it cost? We were looking to replace a few antique charts with real art. Would this be appropriate?

I showed the ad to Dan, who also was intrigued. We showered, dressed and headed over to see the show in West Tisbury. The painting is large and was hanging on the back wall of the gallery. It was stunning, one truly couldn’t look away. It was also too large for any space we could think of, and too expensive! The magazine image was cropped, it didn’t show the entire right side of the image.

But we really liked Jeanne’s work and immediately were drawn to a few other pieces of hers; cows grazing in Katama Farm (near us, actually), and continued to look for something for our dining room wall. Nothing quite fit the bill. The gallerist pulled up images that were not at the gallery, but scattered around the island. We went in search. A few turned out to be in Jeanne’s studio. She kindly brought a few over to our house to look at where they might work. She was very pleasant.

The assistant from the gallery brought over the large cows painting for us to try up in our den.

Katama Farm


We loved it and agreed to keep it. We also decided on a scene on Beach Road, entering Oak Bluffs from the Edgartown side, along State Beach to hang in our dining room.

Clever Adam also brought the large, gorgeous “Derby Evening”. We protested; we had no good place for it. But it was SO alluring, such a fabulous painting, how could we resist? We walked from room to room – nope too large, or the colors didn’t work. We wandered into our sun room, all blues, green and white with lots of light. We had a blue barn star hanging on the white bead board wall. Could this be the spot? Adam valiantly held it up. MAGIC! It looked fantastic! Oh my goodness! Adam told us to live with it for a bit (always a great strategy; then the owner can’t live without it)! Of course we were totally over the moon about it. We had close friends come over to give their assessment. They loved it too.

We went back to the gallery owner to negotiate for all three works. He gave us a nice deal. Still, that one piece was the most expensive work of art (or anything else – clothing, jewelry, anything), we’d ever purchased.

We sit in the room all the time. It makes the space. Even when not in the room, I admire it when passing by. Our house was on the Edgartown house tour last year (for the second time). The artwork got the most comments (someone thought we had built the upstairs den around the cow painting). But the “Derby Evening, 2017” was the most admired. We held the house open a few extra minutes so that Jeanne and her husband could come and see where her works live in the world (we have since bought four more, smaller pieces by her; we are true Jeanne Staples collectors). But nothing compares to this work.

Painting in situ, 2022, with friends.


Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.

Characterizations: funny, right on!, well written


  1. John Shutkin says:

    What a wonderful, story of a beautiful investment, Betsy! Even just viewing “Derby Evening” on my computer screen, both as your featured image and now, perfectly in situ, at your home, I could sense its amazing, moody brilliance. But the fact that it has such a resonance to your home on the Vineyard must make it especially meaningful to you.

    Plus, your story of how you came to acquire “Derby Evening,” starting with the gallery ad in the local magazine, is delicious. I also loved your knowing comment as to the gallery assistant’s suggestion that you “live with it a bit” as almost always the clincher in a deal.

    And now you get to enjoy “Derby Evening” every evening. Well worth it, obviously!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      It was happenstance that we first saw it in the magazine, John. And now we devoted fans of Jeanne Staple’s work. Her night scenes are fantastic; moody, other-worldly, yet realistic! But this one caught our eye from afar, the second we walked into the gallery. And yes, it was VERY smart of Adam to just “bring it so we could we live with it”. Savvy move.

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    Art can be wonderful and so glad you found something to bring such joy. I was once told by a friend that he only buys art from living artists, and that is not a bad idea either.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Interesting approach to art, Khati. We only have a few pieces by dead artists (they tend to be more expensive; a few have died since we bought their work). What we’ve learned is: unless you are very savvy, or buying VERY well known artists, there usually isn’t a secondary market for the art, so buy what you love without hope of buying as an investment because you probably won’t be able to resell it. We buy what we love and plan to live with a LONG time.

  3. Wow Betsy, now I’ll really have to get back to the Vineyard to see your wonderful art!

    We too like to buy art from places we know and love, and once in Luxembourg we negotiated for a painting that was hanging in our hotel!

  4. Suzy says:

    Wonderful story, Betsy, and amusing that you first saw the picture in a magazine by the lap pool at your club! Of course I got to see the painting when I visited you in May, and we even talked about you writing about it for this prompt, but we never thought to snap a photo of US in front of the painting. How I wish we had, so I could have been in that bottom photo of the painting “in situ”!

  5. Marian says:

    Love this story and the painting, Betsy. I could see why it made such a good impression on the tour. Appreciate your advice on buying art as well. We have some more modest paintings, most by living artists whom Dick and I know personally, and we get great enjoyment from them. The personal connection adds a lot of meaning.

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    It’s impossible to assign a dollar value to art. My parents owned an art gallery in Southfield, Michigan for many years and acquired a great collection of art. After they both died, my brothers and I divided the art, but our choices were often emotional rather than economic. If you love it, as you do “Derby Evening, 2017,” the value is priceless.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Yes and no, Laurie. Dollar value is assigned by the gallery when you go to purchase art, as you know, so I can tell you that “Derby Evening, 2017” was the most expensive tangible item we’ve ever acquired. However, unless one is buying extremely valuable art, typically by a well-known artist, we’ve learned that there probably is not a secondary market for it, so we do buy only what we truly love, since we will not be able to resell anything. So on that score, I do agree with you.

  7. Susan Bennet says:

    What a thrill for the artist(s), Betsy, that their works have found such an appreciative home. Your masterpiece is indeed moody, Hopper-esque, and I’m sure you see something different every time you look at it. Sounds to me like it’s true love.

    Buying art by local artists is the best, both for the artists and for you. Over the past several years it has been my pleasure to study and discover works by two (famous) artists who at one time lived in my town. The personal connection is so very special. Lucky you!!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Thank you, Susan. There is an almost Hopper-esque quality to this painting (though not some of her others, like the cows in Katama). This is because of the dark, night scene.

      I agree, it is very pleasant when we can make those personal connections to the artists. Good for you for doing the same and particularly, two who lived in your town. That makes the art even more special.

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