Tuesday October 2, 2012

WESTMORELAND, N.H. -- At a time when a presidential election is coming up and football season is upon us, art can sometimes end up by the wayside.

But many people think time should be made for creative culture, as opposed to learning about Tom Brady’s quarterback rating or which politicians are endorsing Mitt Romney. And artisan tours are popping up in various locations to give people a chance to sample what local artists have to offer in fields like painting, photography, jewelry-making and woodworking.

The River Valley Artisan Tour started with that exact purpose and is the brainchild of five southwestern New Hampshire artists. Pastel painter Carol Corliss teamed up with oil painters Madeline Ullrich and Robin Stronk, acrylic painter Joanne Smith and photographer Medora Herbert and set it up as a way to demonstrate how artists and artisans create their work.

The cooperative event is scheduled to last from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6, and Sunday, Oct. 7 (Columbus Day weekend).

Corliss, of Spofford, said artists tend to dabble in media such as painting and photography, whereas artisanry involves craftsmanship.

She said nine artists and artisans -- including photographers, woodworkers and painters -- will set up shop in Westmoreland Town Hall at 780 Route 63 to display their work and show how it is made.


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What makes the event a tour is what individuals do after visiting town hall.

Maps will be available to lead guests to the homes or studios of various other artists in the area to see how other art is made. The equipment at these locations would be too cumbersome to bring to the town hall. The tour also will include stops at Boggy Meadow Farms (where cheese is made), Brick Oven Farms (which bakes artisan bread) and Poocham Hill Winery (which will be holding its grand opening).

Corliss and Smith said all those involved believe creating culinary masterpieces like cheese, bread and wine is a fine art in its own right.

"A lot of people don’t get to see where an artist works," Corliss said.

Smith said artists can be sort of secluded sometimes.

Maps also will be available at each home or studio and there will be signs leading anyone interested through the New England foliage to different locations. Smith said each artist or artisan will have a designated number and each of the 11 sponsors’ establishments will have a letter.

There also will be special raffles.

Corliss, who knows the other women by being a part of the local art scene, said the tour was started because there are several in the general area but Westmoreland and its surrounding towns always felt left out. Smith said tours like these can help spark up an interest in art.

"There are so many artists in the area and people just don’t realize it," she said.

JoAnn LaBarre, an administrative assistant at Westmoreland Town Hall, said the Board of Selectmen granted use of the building to the tour’s artists last year. Though this is the first year, LaBarre said there was a very small-scale display in 2011.

She said there is a lot of publicity for the event, as posters and fliers can be seen around town.

"My mom actually asked me if I would take her because she really wants to go," she said with a slight laugh.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.