A little history and a lot of art that is fresh, local and handmade


The 22nd Rock River Artist tour July 19 to 20, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (www.rockriverartists.com)

SOUTH NEWFANE - Their works have been featured in exhibits in countless prestigious venues and represented in fine galleries and public and private collections all over the world, but the artists of Vermont's Rock River Valley can only be seen altogether in their natural habitats one weekend a year when they open their studios, homes and gardens to the public. Devastated by Tropical Storm Irene three years ago, the river that connected people in the community threatened to tear it apart, but in the end, the artists and the community have become connected more closely than ever.

What folks will experience: Works from Chris Triebert who, devastated by the storm, totally changed her artform. She found a way to make art from Irene by taking the detritus of mud, rocks, sticks and junk washed up nearby and used it to create prints without the use of a camera -- she calls these Shadowgraphs, Press Light and Paintagrams. You'll also find, an array of fine hand crafted furniture, a variety of painting styles, unique large scale ink on paper works, wood-fired pots, porcelain pottery and thread-on-layered fabric and much more.

Most of the studios are within a short drive of South Newfane, and visitors are invited to stop at the 19th Century Old Schoolhouse. The old one-room schoolhouse is transformed into a high-end, contemporary gallery for the weekend. This is a chance to see all of the artists work, plan your self-guided tour, pick up maps, purchase a ticket to the art raffle and ask questions. Of course along with the art, food is always appreciated. Most studios will have refreshments to keep you going and on Saturday night there's a homegrown barbecue fundraiser at historic Williamsville Hall that was the community center in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene's flooding.

In addition to the tour, South Newfane offers a variety of other sites - a new café that will be open for lunch during the tour, as well as Amazing Planet Farm, an organic vegetable farm. There's also Olallie Daylily Gardens at Ellen Darrow's studio stop and the inspiring gardens of many of the artists on the tour.

The tour happens July 19 to 20, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both days.


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