BRATTLEBORO >> Poised at the confluence of a nationwide arts happening and a statewide studio event, the artists of Brattleboro again will offer a close-up look at the creative process at the height of fall foliage season. This year, however, art lovers will have twice the opportunity, as the annual event expands to include Columbus Day weekend.
Typically the first weekend in October, the Vermont Craft Council's 2016 Fall Open Studio Weekends Oct. 1 to 2 and 8 to 9 will take place across the state, coinciding with the national American Craft Week. Locally, the event will include the work of 14 artists from 11 studios and one gallery in Brattleboro, West Brattleboro and Marlboro. Please note that half of the participating studios will be open only the first weekend; the rest will be open both weekends.
Participating studios will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, offering the public a chance to meet the artists, view the environments in which their art is created, see demonstrations of their processes and purchase finished works.
"It's stimulating to meet so many people who want to see what goes into the creative process," said fine furniture maker Jason Breen. "I invite people to touch and smell the wood — something you can't do on the web. Visitors get to engage with the art form with all of their senses. Really, the weekend is about inviting the public to forge a live connection with craft and craftspeople."
A few highlights of what tourgoers will see:
Josh Bernbaum of the JMB Glass studio will be offering a new selection of his popular "Mezza Filigrana" handmade drinking glasses, in addition to many other unique and not previously seen blown glass pieces. Furnace glass blowing demonstrations will be offered Oct. 1-2, as will demonstrations by Marta Bernbaum, who (time permitting) will offer guests the chance to make their own glass bead in her upstairs flameworking space.
Also at JMB Glass, Jen Wiechers of Laughing Lizard Studio will show her encaustic paintings as well as her sterling silver, gemstone and Swarovski crystal jewelry. Wiechers describes encaustics as a collage-like ensemble of texture, color and form, embedded and revealed by layering beeswax, dammar resin, oil pigment and various found objects. She says she considers a painting finished only when she feels it reflects parts of herself: "I'd like to think that the incredible joy I feel when creating the paintings is captured in each of them."
Fulcrum Arts will offer make-your-own glass and ceramics drop-in sessions from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 1 and 2. There is a $40 fee for each glass piece, and the fees for clay carving start at $25. Reservations are recommended but not mandatory. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Naomi Lindenfeld will demonstrate her innovative technique of creating layers of colored clay and then rolling, pinching or throwing the clay prepared in this way. Much of her recent work is inspired by her mother's textiles and designs that Lindenfeld has infused into her clay work, creating pieces that are made to be used but also have a sculptural quality to them. In addition to the finished work available in her studio, she will offer discounted seconds and clearance pieces that result from the experimentation that occurs during her design phase.
Painter Charles Townsend will show his oil paintings, pastels and monotypes, including landscapes of Vermont, the East Coast and France.
Lesley Heathcote's current work focuses on animals, birds and landscapes of Vermont. Her medium is pastel which allows her to combine painterly layering of color along with detailed drawing. Working from reference photographs that she takes while hiking and exploring Vermont's natural world, she combines accurate rendering with deep feeling for the natural world. Colors are heightened, light and composition adjusted, to reveal a poetic vision. The work conveys the beauty and sense of wonder she feels for nature and the animal kingdom.
Here is the complete lineup of tour stops in the Brattleboro area, listed in order of their site numbers on Oct. 1-2. Note: Sites with two numbers are participating in both weekends, with the second number indicating the site number for Oct. 8-9. The studios marked with * are those of Brattleboro-West Arts members:
*29/28 - Applewoods Woodworking Studio and Gallery: David and Michelle Holzapfel: 2802 Rt. 9, Marlboro
*30 - Matthew Tell Pottery: Woodfired pottery: 163 Potter's Hill Road, Marlboro
*31 - JMB Glass: Blown and flameworked glass by Josh and Marta Bernbaum: 119 Hescock Road, Brattleboro
*32 - Laughing Lizard Studio : Encaustic painting and jewelry by Jen Wiechers: showing at JMB Glass, 119 Hescock Road, Brattleboro
*33/29 - Charles Townsend: Landscape painting: 1854 Ames Hill Road, Marlboro
*34/30 - Jason Breen Fine and Custom Woodworking: 1197 Bonnyvale Road, Brattleboro
35 - Zak Grace Glass: Hand-formed and blown glassware and art: 446 Williams St, Brattleboro
36 - Lesley Heathcote: Pastels of animals, birds, and landscapes. 32 Larkin St, Brattleboro
37/32 - Vermont Artisan Designs: Gallery and tour information center: 106 Main St., Brattleboro
*38/33 - Orchard Street Pottery: Woodfired pottery by Walter Slowinski: 658 Orchard St., Brattleboro
*39 - Naomi Lindenfeld: Colored clay pottery: 330 Meadowbrook Road, Brattleboro
40/34 - Fulcrum Arts: Natalie Blake's ceramics and Randi Solin's glass: 485 West River Road, Brattleboro
Visitors can start the self-guided tour by following the yellow signs posted at Exit 2 of Interstate 91 in Brattleboro. A map that includes all the participating Brattleboro area artists is available at any stop on the tour, or you can download a copy to your device atbrattleboro-west-arts.com/VCCmap.pdf. For a complete list of tour stops statewide, visitvermontcrafts.com or pick up a guidebook at participating sites.
For the second year in a row, local arts organization Brattleboro-West Arts has infused the VCC tour with its members and encouraged other artists in town to participate, in an effort to make the Brattleboro area an attractive destination with a large number of studios at the state's southern gateway. Brattleboro-West Arts is a group of about three dozen artists who create their art and make their homes within the watershed of the Whetstone Brook. Their goal is to improve the artistic life of the community. They do that by gathering monthly to share their knowledge, experience, goodwill and a meal. In addition to hosting a yearly Open Studio Tour, the group has offered seminars and educational presentations to the wider community and produced local shows of members' work. For details about Brattleboro-West Arts, including profiles of member artists and information about this and other events, visit www.brattleboro-west-arts.com.
Visit americancraftweek.com for more information about coordinated arts events taking place Oct. 1-16 nationwide.