WILMINGTON — Self-guided tours of scenes that inspired work by local artists started Labor Day weekend and will continue until Indigenous Peoples' Day, giving participants the opportunity to take in aesthetic treats during peak foliage season in Vermont.
"I hope our directions are pretty good," said Meg Staloff, program coordinator for Wilmington Works. "You probably wouldn't do all 15 stops in one day but you could easily do the core in one afternoon."
For the inaugural program dubbed Picture This, Staloff designed the brochure, which is available at wilmingtonworksvt.com and the Southern Vermont Deerfield Valley Chamber of Commerce or Bartleby's Books when the chamber is closed. Now that there's a blueprint, she suggested the idea could be used again in the fall or early summer.
Wilmington Works is involved in helping businesses through the coronavirus pandemic. Around May, when businesses were opening back up after being ordered by the governor to shut down, Staloff talked with local artist Ann Coleman about what could be done for artists during a time when events and festivals have been canceled or postponed.
"We were feeling like the art world was going to take a little while to reel back," Staloff said.
Brainstorming led to creating a tour where participants can see paintings as well as the sites depicted in the artwork. Staloff described the tour as having "the most beautiful spots around," showing how artists interpret views in their own ways.
The goal had been to start the program in the summer, but it took a little longer than anticipated to get off the ground.
The tour is "perfect for social distancing," Staloff said. Participants can go with members of their household in their own vehicles and avoid crowds.
Most of the stops are in Wilmington but others can be found in Whitingham, Marlboro and at Somerset Reservoir. Featured are works by Coleman, Jim McGrath, Jen Violette, Joan Lovell and Leslie Brunn.
Lovell's art can be seen at Bartleby's, Ecotique Gallery, Vermont Distillers and other spots around the Deerfield Valley. McGrath's gallery is open at 22 West Main St. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Brunn's gallery is at 6 North Main St. and her work also can be found at Jasper Decor, the Wilmington Inn and the Grand Summit at Mount Snow. Coleman's art is displayed at Bartleby's and other locations. The chamber is hosting works by Violette and Lovell.
One of the more ambitious stops involves hiking the Catamount Trail for more than 2 miles to see the scene McGrath painted for "A Trail Around the Lake."
Coleman's "Autumn Glow" features the 14th hole at the Haystack Golf Course.
"Color, lighting and composition play a huge role in what I choose to paint," Coleman said in the brochure. "This view of the Haystack Golf Course has it all!"
Brunn's "Mud Season" is inspired by a scene of Wellman Farm.
"It is a much under-appreciated time of year in Wilmington between winter and spring and the colors come alive," she said in the brochure. "Crisp and cool days with a fabulous sky."
Lovell's "Riot of Color" was painted from a spot on the Deerfield River looking toward the Searsburg Reservoir.
"Autumn is my favorite time to paint, when light and trees are exploding with color," she said in the brochure. "In this, I felt like the trees and their reflections were competing for attention — so, I guess, that's what I wanted to capture."
Violette's work is inspired by "the many historic farm dwellings" found in the local area, the brochure states.
The program seems "very well received" and it could be adapted in the future, Staloff said.
"We just did paintings because we had to narrow it down," she said. "Designing the materials took a long time from scratch but now we don't need to do that."
Donations are accepted to help support the tour.
Reach staff writer Chris Mays at email@example.com and at @CMaysBR on Twitter.