Rappahannock galleries ramp up for the artist tour 

This is the second in a series of visits with new artists on the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community’s (RAAC) eighth annual Artists of Rappahannock Studio & Gallery Tour this Nov. 2-3.

Take the tour

The two-day Artists of Rappahannock Open Studio and Gallery Tour is Nov. 2-3, rain or shine. Tickets are $10 for the two-day event and can be purchased at the Washington fire hall, where visitors can preview artists’ work and pick up a map to studios and galleries. Visit raac.org for more information.

Who would think a county that’s among the least populated in Virginia (87th of 93) could be so rich in artistic talent and venues? Rappahannock, with its scant population of 7,456 (as of 2012), is the home of seven art galleries. Yes, seven!

All of these galleries are pulling out the stops to assure the success of the ninth annual Artists of Rappahannock Open Studio & Gallery Tour Nov. 2-3. Aside from the 20 individual artists who will open their own studios (many are also inviting guest artists to show with them), the galleries will also be offering new exhibits and works by about 50 artists.

Of the seven galleries on the tour, two are in Washington; five are in Sperryville.

In Washington, two artist-owned galleries are featuring new works and exhibits during the tour weekend. At R.H. Ballard Gallery, owner Robert Ballard is hosting the special “A Show of Six” exhibit featuring a sampling of the diversity of the region’s significant art community.

Robert Ballard, R.H. Ballard Galery owner, is hosting a special exhibit featuring a sampling of the region's significant art community. Photo by Molly M. Peterson.
Robert Ballard, R.H. Ballard Galery owner, is hosting a special exhibit featuring a sampling of the region’s significant art community. Photo by Molly M. Peterson.

Six regional artists, working in a variety of media, will be on display, including landscape paintings by Nora Harrington, paintings by Patton Wilson, works on paper by Thomas Mullany, landscapes and interiors by Paul Erlenborn and screen and wire sculptures by Janet Brome, as well as Ballard’s own work — a study in clouds.

At the Geneva Welch Gallery, visitors can enjoy the paintings of the barnyard animals for which Welch is so popular. Also featured are new views of her famed roosters, and landscapes of Rappahannock County. Pet portraits and tree ornaments will also be shown, and can be customized with your pet.

Meanwhile, in Sperryville, five galleries in this small village (of 312) are 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.

Potters (from left) Nancy Nord, Sara Adams Susan Hornbostel and Doris Jones of Rappahannock Pottery Collective. Courtesy photo.
Potters (from left) Nancy Nord, Sara Adams Susan Hornbostel and Doris Jones of Rappahannock Pottery Collective. Courtesy photo.

This gallery, located at Oldway Arts Center on Lee Highway, west of the village, specializes in fine crafts and art from local artists. It’s the one of the oldest art galleries in the county and has represented local artists and artisans for 29 years. This year, work by a dozen local artists will be showcased, including blown and stained glass, jewelry, iron works, art wood, photography and ceramics.

Three other multi-venue galleries are located in or near the old packing shed at the eastern edge of Sperryville. These include River District Arts, Middle Street Gallery and Old Rag Photography Gallery.

At River District Arts, Rappahannock’s take on the Alexandria’s Torpedo Factory, artists will be both exhibiting and demonstrating their work. Its Confluent Gallery, nestled alongside the working studios of 14 resident artists, hosts a continuing exhibit of regional artists in conjunction with Piedmont Virginian magazine.

River District Arts hosts a continuing exhibit of regional artists in conjunction with Piedmont Virginian magazine. Courtesy photo.
River District Arts hosts a continuing exhibit of regional artists in conjunction with Piedmont Virginian magazine. Courtesy photo.

Next door at Middle Street Gallery, painter Helen Berliner’s work will be featured, along with the works from the 18 members of this nonprofit cooperative. The artists will show a diverse array of works, including paintings, drawings, photographs, prints and multimedia works.

For those interested in photography, the Old Rag Gallery is not to be missed. It is home to some of Rappahannock’s finest photographers, and is the only gallery dedicated solely to photography. A cooperative of six photographers and one framer, Old Rag will be showing a distinctive artist-eye view of Rappahannock.

For those seeking a small, unique gallery dedicated to “connecting collectors with artists in the context of the evolution of their art,” Haley Fine Art in the center of Sperryville will be featuring the work of two regional artists, Thomas Spande and Chris Stephens.