Gina Sweatt, an accomplished jewelry designer, joins the Nov. 7-8 Artists of Rappahannock Studio and Gallery Tour as one of six artist studios new to the tour this year.
Now in its 11th year, the weekend event features 21 artists who will open their personal studios to visitors. Eight galleries will also hold special exhibits, bringing the number of artists on the tour to more than 50.
Sweatt is a local . . . in the best sense of the term. Born in Warren County, she lives in Chester Gap and learned her craft in Frederick County. She apprenticed with a silversmith in Winchester for eight years and then worked for another jeweler, making and repairing jewelry, for another decade before going out on her own with Ridge Line Designs in Front Royal. She operated there for 10 years before moving the studio to Sperryville’s River District in March.
“Everyone has been so welcoming. It is a marvelous art community,” noted Sweatt, whose studio and shop is next door to the River District Arts (RDA) complex. The complex will have three galleries — RDA’s Confluent Gallery, Old Rag Photography and independent artists’ coop Middle Street — on the tour. RDA’s nine tenants mirror the concept of “work-show” studios found in Alexandria’s Torpedo Factory.
Sweatt, who works in both gold and silver, often uses gemstones she’s found on her travels or at jewelry shows. “I work in both precious and semiprecious gems, as well as beads,” she said, noting that much of her work is inspired by nature. She also specializes in creating custom work. This start-to-finish involvement with a client over a specific piece guarantees satisfaction for both the artist and the client.
“I get inspiration every morning as I drive from my home at Chester Gap to Sperryville,” said Sweatt, whose one-of-a-kind designs catch the beauty and light of Rappahannock County.
Sweatt will have plenty of company in Sperryville on the art tour. In addition to the galleries and artists at River District Arts, Sperryville’s other two galleries will feature special exhibits. At Haley Fine Arts on Main Street, the new portfolio of works entitled “Spaces,” by painter Chris Stephens, will be on exhibit, as will be the work of painter Jacob Stilley. Stilley was born and bred in Rappahannock and has returned to the county after graduating from the New York Studio with a master’s in fine arts.
“It’s wonderful to have a talented local artist return to our county, after a stint in New York City,” said gallery owner Andrew Haley. Stilley is also a second-generation Rappahannock artist. He is the son of Linda Tarry, whose mosaics studio has been on the tour for many years.
West of the village, Eric Kvarnes will be holding glassblowing demonstrations at Glassworks Gallery, which will feature more than 27 artists and artisans working in a wide variety of media, from glass to metal and wood. And just west of Glassworks, Margaret Rogers, a returning artist whose studio is housed in the family-owned Central Coffee Roasters, will explain the art of etching and fine printmaking.
For more information on the tour, visit raac.org.