The Rapp for July 7

Middle Street’s date (and address) book

Middle Street Gallery has announced it will remain open at its River District Arts building location through July (11 to 5 Saturdays and Sundays), and will close at the beginning of August while members continue the search for a new location.

Meanwhile, the gallery’s joint exhibition with Shenandoah National Park and Shenandoah National Park Trust, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, is hosted by Haley Fine Art, 42 Main Street, Sperryville. The exhibit runs through July 24, and moves Aug. 4 to Skyland Resort and Big Meadows Lodge in Shenandoah National Park. The works by Middle Street members will be displayed there through Oct. 31, and for sale at all three locations.

Rappahannock Artisan Trail beckons

Woodworker Robert Lucking, an Artisan Center of Virginia juried artisan, makes his master works in Sperryville.Courtesy photo
Woodworker Robert Lucking, an Artisan Center of Virginia juried artisan, makes his master works in Sperryville.

There’s a long, long trail a-winding . . .

It leads through Rappahannock County, “where creativity and the river begin.” It’s the Artisan Trail, Rappahannock’s sole county-wide effort to promote tourism, and this trail needs a trail crew to keep the connections open.

Next Tuesday (July 12), artisans, entrepreneurs, niche farmers and small business operators whose livelihood depends on tourists’ dollars are gathering at Narmada Winery in Amissville to brainstorm, plan and organize, using the Artisan Trail’s platform to launch a coordinated campaign to bring more visitors to the county.

“Location, location, location,” noted Patricia Brennan, stained glass and mosaic artist who’s been Rappahannock’s Trail blazer and the catalyst for the network. “With the Washington metro area and the city of Fredericksburg so close, just an hour away, an easy drive for the day or the weekend, this county could be a gold mine for tourism.”

Artist Jennifer Heverly's Spirit Trail Fiberworks, which is moving soon to the Sperryville Schoolhouse annex, is part of the Rappahannock Artisan Trail.Courtesy photo
Artist Jennifer Heverly’s Spirit Trail Fiberworks, which is moving soon to the Sperryville Schoolhouse annex, is part of the Rappahannock Artisan Trail.

For the eye-catching brochure with a big fold-out map, Brennan canvassed from Nethers to Amissville to enlist 39 artists, nine arts-and-craft related venues and 22 agricultural-artisan businesses plus restaurants, lodging and points of interest — more than 100 attractions in all. The brochures are distributed at Virginia’s welcome centers and through the Artisan’s Center of Virginia (ACV), the umbrella nonprofit for the 13 artisan trails already set up in 21 Virginia counties, with more underway. Established in 1997 in response to Gov. Gerald Baliles’ directive to state agencies to enhance the state’s craft industry, ACV also hosts exhibitions and offers workshops and seminars through the studios of its members and Virginia’s community college system. But the primary thrust is the maps, which combine arts and crafts with farming in a self-guided navigational tool aimed at bringing tourism revenue to rural communities.

The Rappahannock Artisans Trail brochure is an inducement to travel the backroads and byways in search of treasure — original art, a fine bottle of wine, handicrafts that are both useful and decorative, an antique table, a delicious meal, free-range protein and produce grown without Monsanto, freshly baked bread and pastries, outdoor recreation in the shadow of the Blue Ridge, comfortable accommodations, live entertainment and more. “Now, the challenge is to get the brochure in the hands of the treasure seekers,” Brennan added. “We need outreach, marketing, promotion to make it happen. We all want to be able to make a livelihood in Rappahannock County. With the Artisans Trail, we have an ember. Let’s build a fire!”

The meeting at 5:30 p.m. July 12 at Narmada is open. Brennan is hoping to see local people who know nothing about the Artisans Trail project and want to learn. She’s expecting artisans and businesses already on the trail who are interested in working together for improvement. And most of all, she’s hoping for prospective management team members, trail enthusiasts willing to take leadership roles in marketing and outreach to bring the buyers to the goods.

“Everybody wants to be able to make a livelihood in Rappahannock, to live here and work here,” Brennan said. “We have the talent, the skills, the products, the resources — we just need the customers!”

In the meantime, Brennan encourages her neighbors to grab a map and take to the trail themselves. “Get on your trail. Don’t let the tourists discover Rappahannock’s treasures before you do. See what’s out there, in your big beautiful backyard.”

For more information, call Patricia Brennan at De’Danann Glassworks (540-987-8615). The Rappahannock County Artisan Trail brochure is available at the Rappahannock County Visitors Center on U.S. 211 near Washington, at tourism kiosks throughout the county and online at artisancenterofvirginia.org.

— Daphne Hutchinson

Putnam’s memorial to the fallen at Ypres

Huntly artist Nol Putnam's poppies commemorate the fallen at World War I's battle of Ypres.Courtesy photo
Huntly artist Nol Putnam’s poppies commemorate the fallen at World War I’s battle of Ypres.

A small field of red poppies, fresh from the forge of Huntly artist Nol Putnam, has sprouted in the R.H. Ballard’s Artifacts-on-Main yard on Washington’s Main Street — part of an international effort to recognize the fallen soldiers at the battle of Ypres in 1916.

This is what Putnam had to say about it recently:

There really is no good reason to single out Ypres as the battle of World War I. Suggest any of the fruitless battles in that war — in any war? — for mere yardage. Think Gallipoli, Verdun, the Somme both times. The mind-numbing loss of life. For Ypres, it was 400,000 troops from all nations for a five-mile gain!

Argue against the stupidity of generals and politicians; argue against the futility of war to solve the problems of ethnicity, of borders, of religion; the crashing failure of reason on all sides; and most depressingly, our collective failure to think, to learn from the past and apply the lessons to our own day.

The red poppies are to memorialize the dead on both sides . . . “In Flanders Field the poppies grow . . .” The white poppy is to remember the innocents who were caught up and killed in the war. The non-combatants on both sides as well as those soldiers shot for cowardice in the face of mind-numbing terror . . . what we now, belatedly, recognize as PTSD.

In my own family, a grandfather served in the Navy, one uncle and my stepfather served in the French Ambulance Corps before the entry of the United States, my dad and another uncle served in the Army. It was Armistice Day we celebrated when growing up. No matter where we were at 11 o’clock on the 11th of November, we paused . . . too young to know what for, yet there stood my stepfather, at attention, eyes moist, his hand at his brow in the manner of the French “poilu.”

The genesis for my display is an outgrowth of international blacksmiths’ organizations to recognize the service of blacksmiths and all other soldiers in the battles of Ypres. This fall of 2016, there will be a new memorial of 2,000 poppies made by smiths from around the world to honor the fallen on all sides.

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