Brattleboro-West Arts craft sale moves to Main Street

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BRATTLEBORO - For the first time, artists participating in the Brattleboro-West Arts Fine Art and Craft Sale will showcase their work on Main Street.

The River Gallery School will welcome 10 creators who will display pottery, jewelry, paintings, photographs and more at Gallery 34. The opening reception is Friday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., during Gallery Walk. Members hope the added visibility will help promote interest in their art.

"The other locations are a bit off Main Street and we think it'll make a difference being right downtown," said Brattleboro-West Arts trustee Naomi Lindenfeld. Last year, the event was held at 118 Elliot.

River Gallery School, founded in 1976, offers educational classes and workshops in a wide range of visual media. The annual sale expands on Saturday, Dec. 14 and Sunday, Dec. 15 in the classroom space by Gallery 34, 36 Main St., to offer a larger selection of the artists' work.

"When we go downtown, we like to share what goes into our creative practices technically and what the design process is like. There's an educational aspect to it," Lindenfeld said.

Lindenfeld uses various methods to stain and layer clay to create patterns. She typically makes functional pottery pieces such as cups, bowls, lamps, teapots and vases.

The annual craft sale is one of several Brattleboro-West Arts programs. Since forming in 2009, the group has grown to roughly 30 artists and craftspeople who gather each month to discuss their artistic practices and ways to enrich the artist climate of Southern Vermont. Brattleboro-West Arts' mission is to share its creative practices with the public by teaching classes, leading workshops, taking on apprentices, sponsoring occasional public forums and providing open studio tours. Past craft sales have exhibited more than 17 artists.

This year's participating Brattleboro-West Arts exhibitors, in addition to Lindenfeld, include Jen Wiechers, encaustic painting and sterling silver jewelry; Chris Lann, sterling and gemstone jewelry; Matt Tell, gas and wood-fired pottery; Walter Slowinski, wood-fired and salt-glazed pottery; Jason Breen, fine woodenware and home accessories; Lesley Heathcote, pastel paintings of animals, birds and landscapes; Gene Parulis, photographic prints and cards; Maisie Crowther, watercolors, prints and cards; and John Dorsey, functional and sculptural ceramics.

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"What makes the show special is what makes the group special," Lann said.

Formerly a journalist, Lann decided to turn his hobby into a job. With 16 years of self-taught techniques and experience, the metalsmith mostly makes jewelry pieces to order and designs with sand instead of wax.

"Sand casting is primitive and fits with the other techniques that I use. It's not technologically rigorous," he said. "I'll find a twig, for example, that has the composition that I know works well with jewelry and things I can reproduce. Each individual piece is directed by what a customer wants."

Lann said he prefers fulfilling orders rather than building inventory, which he finds to be less creative.

Slowinski, a potter, is excited to be working with the River Gallery School.

"It's challenging because the space is small, but I'm excited about how the show looks and who we are," Slowinski said. "The show itself is a work of art separate from anything else that any one individual does. There's a way that we work together."

Slowinski is displaying 40 to 50 pieces on shelves he made with cherry wood. He also constructed his own wood-fired kiln, where he fires his pottery about twice yearly.

"The fire does the decorating. The ash lands on the pot randomly and in predictable ways. That becomes the design, which is wonderful and amazing," he said.

Gallery 34 is at 34 Main St. and will be open Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Make an appointment to visit on weekdays and call 802-257-1577. The expanded sale on Dec. 14 and 15 will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.


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