SOUTH NEWFANE -- Last year, during the 20th annual Rock River Artists Studio Tour, Christine Triebert set out sand, silt and debris washed onto her land by Tropical Storm Irene and invited people to create stuff with it.
It was a gesture of hope and healing, an attempt to make peace and make art with the aftermath of the storm whose floodwaters hit the Rock River valley hard, including Triebert's riverside homesite.
"I was watching how much people liked doing that," she said. "It just reinforced to me that there was something in there."
Now, another year removed from Irene, another year of healing for land and souls, Triebert has found what was in there, the art that was inside all that sand, silt and rusty metal.
She calls them "Geomorphs," and they are photographic images of the rocks by the river that look almost like satellite images of earth, rusty bedsprings in such sharp relief that seem almost to jump off the paper, sand which she has moved and sifted into patterns and combinations of these elements.
The work is brand new -- it was created in a cathartic flurry of activity early this month shortly after Triebert's mother died.
"I think it's part of making order out of chaos," said Triebert. "I feel like this is something I've needed to do. ... It doesn't feel so much like debris and all this silt that was in the way. I feel like they're a part of my art."
Triebert is eager to show her "Geomorphs" to people who stop by her studio this weekend. The 21st annual Rock River Artists' Studio Tour takes place on Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., starting at the Old Schoolhouse in South Newfane, where the 16 participating artists present their group show.
With map provided, visitors have the option to visit every artist's studio, all within short driving range of South Newfane. Admission is free all weekend.
Triebert's "Geomorphs" are a dramatic example of a running theme of the Studio Tour -- the connection between artists and place, and how life in the Rock River Valley informs the work of these artists who all live within a few miles of the Old Schoolhouse.
The "Geomorphs" made a big impression on Pete Novick, a newcomer to the tour this year, who was visiting Triebert's studio Monday afternoon. He got a surprise when he reached out to touch a piece of metal Triebert had photographed, only to find it was a really a two-dimensional image.
"I thought I was going to touch a real thing," he said.
Novick of Hayama Cabinetmakers, lived in Hayama, Japan, for a number of years, where he learned the art of Japanese joinery, wood selection and hand work. In his new shop in South Newfane, he builds an array of furniture integrating function, proportion, balance and simplicity. Hoping to build his business -- he was juried into the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers -- and grow as an artist, he joined the Rock River Studio Tour at Triebert's urging.
"The great motivation for me was to meet these other Rock River artists and see the directions they moved in," he said. "One of the things I liked about Rock River Artists was I wanted to drift away from furniture-making and more into art."
This weekend marks Novick's first time as a tour member, but not his first Rock River tour. In 2011, he did the tour by bicycle.
"It was a hot day, and it was grueling. But it was a great day to meet and greet people," he said.
Fortunately, many of the tour artists had cool drinks to offer, all part of rolling out the red carpet during this one weekend of the year when they open their studios and homes to the public, who can see art, get a sense and how and where they work and discuss that work directly with the artist.
Other artists on the tour include:
* Sculptor Paul Bowen, who rejoins the tour this year. He has always been interested in material with a history. His drawings and prints derive their imagery from his environment and he has created his own inks from squid, Xerox toner and walnuts.
* Ellen Darrow, whose collages are created from her old two-dimensional artwork, torn and reassembled to create something entirely new. She also has incised and painted pottery.
* Lauri Richardson, who builds mosaics from the shattered remains of china and pottery.
* Wood workers Dan DeWalt and Rob Cramp highlight some of the different paths that artists in wood may follow. Cramp builds antique reproductions as well as his own custom designs. DeWalt has recently found a hollow maple log and will converse with it until the two of them figure out what it shall become.
* Painters Roger Sandes, Georgie and Caryn King. King's portraits of animals give the viewer a sense of each animal's personality. Georgie is a plein air artist, her works are deliberate mosaics of complex color and shapes. She is also exploring still life painting as well as her outdoor scenes. Sandes' large, iconic paintings incorporate symbols of life and fertility, integrating elements of modern art and folk art.
* Mary Welsh, who makes densely pieced, luminous collages of houses, rows of buildings or interiors.
* Leonard Ragouzeos, who will again be displaying his unique small to very large-scale ink on paper works and a new series of small watercolor abstractions and portrait sketches.
* Rob Cartelli, who throws functional porcelain ceramics.
* Potter Richard Foye, who mixes the raku method of firing with 12th century Persian glaze recipes.
* Matt Tell, who throws wood fired pots.
* Printmaker Kim Hartman-Colligan, who uses color and form to create a surface that becomes an environment, laying down layers of color and modifying the form and shape.
For more information, visit www.rockriverartists.com.