Rappahannock Arts Scene: Artists paint a raptuous fall feast for the eyes
© Culpeper TimesI remember when I was editor at the Rappahannock News several years ago and a group of folks at the Rappahannock Assocation for Arts and the Community decided that hosting an artist's tour would be an inviting draw.
They were right.
Now, in its eighth year, it continues to morph and change color matched only by the brilliance of the fall foliage creating its background.
Since its inception it's been tagged the Soho of the South and has become one the largest get-a-way weekends for art aficionados well beyond the boundaries of the Piedmont area.
There are some brilliant minds behind the creation of this event and one of the things they did right from the beginning was to slot the first weekend in November as its annual date. This has stayed true for those who like to pen in their must-do events well ahead of time. They also branded it with an attractive logo that appears on posters, bags and flyers. Its elegant and simple design reflects the color and spirit of Rappahannock's artist community and those who support it.
The Rappahannock Artists Studio and Gallery Tour easily lures over a 1,000 to the county, home of the Inn at Little Washington, and a cadre of bed and breakfast inns, galleries and inviting restaurants and unique shops that spread from Flint Hill and Sperryville to Chester Gap.
For those who live in Rappahannock County, its buccolic roadways and noticeable absence of development have marked it as a gem for those fortunate enough to call it home. A visit to its pristine countryside vistas is only enhanced by its farmers markets. Its tucked away hollows are prime sanctuaries for authors and artists at every level. Many are internationally recognized and the tour is a unique opportunity to visit – up close and personal – the drawing boards and canvases where their genius is born.
This year 17 artists will open their studios. In addition, nine galleries will hold open-houses, bringing the number of artists on view to over 50.
While the Town of Washington dominates a lot of attention when visiting Rappahannock, nearby Sperryville is nothing to sneeze at. Now in its second year, the artists of the River District Arts (RDA) is an open studio haven where artists can work and exhibit.
The fee for the two-day event has stayed at $10 over the years making it an affordable and attractive venue to appreciate and support the arts.
Joanne Hilty is at the helm of the local arts groups. She was, and continues to be, one of my favorite folks in Rappahannock. She and her husband Dave, have formed the nucleus of many art-related functions. Her organizational talents as well as an eye for all things beautiful are a wonderful pairing to keep the arts alive and well and living in Rappahannock.
She said recently.
“The beauty of Rappahannock County is an inspiration to everyone. This annual tour provides a special look at how it especially inspires the many artists who live in our community. RAAC began the Tour in 2005 and each year we see it expand with new artists opening their studios for the weekend.”
And if it rains. No worries. The tour goes on as scheduled but remember to pack an umbrella.
“We operate rain or shine,” said Hilty adding, “last year we had visitors from as far north as New York and as far south as the Carolinas as well as many visitors from the local community and surrounding areas.”
Plan to stop by the fire hall in Washington as your first stop. You can pick up maps to plan your stops and see a preview from the participating artists.
My daughter Sophia and I have gone for several years. It's a way for me to reconnect with a county where I once served as editor, to say hello to the many artists I met there, a chance to soak in fall color and an opportunity to be inspired.
It's well worth the trip.
If you go
Artists of Rappahannock Studio and Gallery Tour
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
$10 fee covers the two-day event
For more info, phone 540-675-3193.
2012 Artists of Rappahannock Studio and Gallery Tour participants
Five new and 12 returning artists will open their personal studios to the public.
They include painters, sculptors, ceramists, jewelers, and photographers, as well as those who work in iron, wood, glass, mosaics and textiles. In addition, nine galleries will hold special exhibits. These include the Washington galleries of Geneva Welch, Designs in Gold and Silver and R.H. Ballard. The Sperryville galleries are Confluent/River District Art, Glassworks, Haley Fine Art, Middle Street Gallery, and Old Rag Photography.
New to the tour this year are Rosabel Goodman-Everard (painter) and Jerry Smith (furniture maker) of Sperryville, Mike Wolniewicz (furniture maker) of Chester Gap, Ruth Anna Stolk(painter) of Huntly and Rene Ruffner (painter) of Washington/Flint Hill.
Among the 13 returning artists are five from Washington, Va: Kevin Adams (painter), Peter Kramer (furniture maker/woodworker), and Linda Tarry (mosaic artist), and Nedra Smith. Artists from the Sperryville/Castelton/Woodville area include Susan Dienelt (potter), Jeanne Drevas (potter/multimedia, Margaret Rogers (print maker, drawings), Margot S. Neuhaus (painter/sculptor), Rick Myers (painter) and Libet Henze (potter). Nol Putnam and Benita Rauda Gowen again join the tour from the Flint Hill area.