Sperryville column for Oct. 6

Taller than the ‘Trees’ — a centennial celebration

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” — Henry Thoreau

A new, rather extraordinary exhibition celebrating the simple beauty of trees is in store in Rappahannock County. Jackie Bailey Labovitz, an accomplished artist, curator and proprietor of the Cottage Curator in Sperryville, located just a few miles east of the Shenandoah National Park’s Thornton Gap entrance, will join the celebration honoring the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

Jackie Bailey Labovitz's "Blue-eyed Grass," a 40-by-32-inch photo on canvas.
Jackie Bailey Labovitz’s “Blue-eyed Grass,” a 40-by-32-inch photo on canvas.

The “Trees” exhibition opens Saturday, Oct. 15, with a reception from 3 to 5 p.m. The show will be on view during the height of autumn leaves — sporting their dazzling colors in the Park — as well for the 12th annual Artists of Rappahannock Studio and Gallery Tour, which runs Nov. 5 and 6. (“Trees” will close on Dec. 18.)

“Trees” unveils Labovitz’ curatorial skills. The Cottage Curator signage is bold, gorgeous and easily seen off of U.S. 211. The interior walls and decor are gleaming white, allowing Jackie to display not only her magnificently colorful and vivid photography — on exhibition-sized canvas to a backdrop of brilliant whites — but also showcase the fine work of other artists.

The gallery is a visual explosion of light and color. Jackie smiles and tells me of a recent and curious onlooker, who stepped inside and said, “Wow, this is stunning space, first class, like a Manhattan gallery tucked in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.”

Many are familiar with Jackie’s dramatic photography — the saturated colors and details of rare irises and orchids she deftly captures. A petite woman with youthful exuberance and a prominent southern accent, she recalls that one of her first curatorial assignments in the Big Apple raised more than a few New York eyebrows. After her first assignment was completed, a corporate bigwig affiliated with the curating project was overheard to say that he’d met his “first Steel Magnolia.” (That collection, curated by Labovitz, now resides in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian.)

Jackie says, “The exhibition presents artworks inspired by trees — paintings, sculpture, drawings, woodcut prints, baskets, woodturning and studio furniture by local, regional, and nationally recognized and collected artists.” Featured artists also include: Richard Aerni; Kathy Chumley; Joan Danziger; Mark Gardner; Blaise Gaston; Rosabel Goodman-Everard; Barbara Heile; Joel Hunnicutt; John Jordan; Barbara Kerne; Dabney Kirchman; David Knopp; David Levi; Thomas McColley; Margot S. Neuhaus; Leon Niehues; Steve Schwartz; Craig Ernst; and Billie Ruth Sudduth.”

For more information about the exhibition, visit cottagecurator.com or contact Jackie by phone at 202-345-1733 or email jackie@baileylabovitz.com. Gallery hours at the Cottage Curator are 11 to 5 Friday and Sunday, 10:30 to 5:30 Saturday and by appointment. Call 540-773-2700.

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