Galleries and artists gear up for this weekend’s tour

Even Hurricane Sandy is not enough to dampen the spirits of the artists and gallery owners who are gearing up for the eighth annual Artists of Rappahannock Studio and Gallery Tour. The two-day tour is this weekend (Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 3-4).

“Rain or shine, the show goes on,” said Joanne Hilty, chair of the Rappahannock Association for Arts in the Community (RAAC), sponsors of the event.

The number of artists participating this year is close to 50, as many of the 17 open studios have added guest artists and the nine galleries are holding special exhibits. “At only $10 for a two-day pass, this is the best buy in town,” said Hilty, noting that the money raised goes to support RAAC’s ongoing arts programs, including the Claudia Mitchell Fund (which provides grants of financial assistance to artists of all ages, especially emerging artists).

In Washington, an easy stroll down Main Street will take you to the three galleries participating there; R.H. Ballard Gallery will be hosting “Presence of Place,” an exhibition of recent paintings by Nora Harrington, plein-air works done amid the landscapes of The Farm at Sunnyside, where she lives. Her work echoes the special landscape of the farm and the essence of Rappahannock County. Also exhibiting work at Ballard are six other Rappahannock artists: Thomas Mullany, Robert Ballard, Patton Wilson, Fred Kahler, Jeff McNelly and Viviane de Kosinsky.

A few doors away at the Geneva Welch Gallery, visitors can enjoy the paintings of the barnyard animals for which Welch is so popular. Other new displays include tile trays and mugs featuring Barred Rock roosters, one of her favorites, and a new series on herons which she says she “stalked last summer.” Pet portraits and tree ornaments will also be shown, and can be customized with your pet’s image.

At the Chris Goodine Gallery, jewelry of this master designer will be the main attraction, as well as new designs by Kaitlynn Mullan. Most of the late proprietor’s designs are still being produced, and are distinguished by Goodine’s use of natural and archetypal figures. Mullan, Goodine’s apprentice for seven years, works in gold, silver and beads. Also in the collection are designs in snowflakes for the upcoming winter season.

Meanwhile, in Sperryville, there are no shortage of attractions with six galleries on the tour. At Glassworks Gallery, founder Eric Kvarnes is firing up his furnace to hold demonstrations, always a popular tour feature. Kvarnes, a master glassblower, will show how he turns glass-colored beads into beautiful works of art. Located at Oldway Art Center on Lee Hwy., the gallery specializes in fine crafts and art from local artists and features a variety of media, ranging from glass to woodworking and metal.

In Sperryville’s downtown, the two galleries on Main Street – Haley Fine Arts and Old Rag Photography – offer special exhibits for the weekend, Haley showcasing regional art and fine crafts and the work of Rappahannock artists Thomas Spande and Jeanne Drevas (whose own studio is also on the tour), and Old Rag Photography featuring the works of the collective’s five members (Francie Schroeder, Joyce Harman, Raymond Boc, Cameron Harrington and Bette Hileman).

At Rappahannock Central on River Lane, Middle Street Gallery and River District Arts’ (RDA) Confluent Gallery and River Gallery plan special events. Middle Street, a nonprofit artists’ cooperative, exhibits more than 40 works in various media by its members, many of them Rappahannock artists. Next door, RDA’s River Gallery exhibits Jackie Bailey Labovitz’s photographs of images just beyond the back porch of the artist’s rural Virginia home. In the neighboring Confluent Gallery, Margot S. Neuhaus and Elise Wiarda offer a special show in an exhibit called “Between the Lines,” a collaboration that explores the two artists’ shared vision. (Neuhaus’ personal studio will also be on the tour.)

Tickets ($10, good for both days) and tour maps are available starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, at the Washington fire hall, which is both tour headquarters and a preview gallery of works by artists participating in the tour. Visit raac.org for more information.