Visitors to the 12th annual Artists of Rappahannock Open Studio and Gallery Tour won’t want to miss the three new galleries that join the tour this year. Spawned by the demise of Rappahannock Central and its River District Arts (RDA) gallery, the new galleries are clustered in and near Sperryville. The largest of the group, River District Artists, represents 13 of the original 20 artists at RDA, and is located in space leased from Ginger Hill Antiques on U.S. 211 west of Washington.
“We love the space. The Route 211 location has increased traffic, and it has great lighting,” said Marilyn Armor, spokesperson for the members.
The diverse mix of artists includes four from Old Rag Photography (Ray Boc, Joyce Harman, Bette Hileman and Francie Schroeder) and watercolorists Marilyn Armor and Mary Allen, potter Michele Soderman, fused glass artist Jennifer Webb, weaver and hook rug artists Sally and Jim Mello, and printmaker and oil painter Kate Anderson. Two other painters, Bonnie Dixon (oil and mixed media) and Gary Lobman (oil and acrylic), round out the talented group. Visitors won’t want to miss the Dark Sky Initiative photos by Joyce Harman, an exhibit sponsored by a grant from the Claudia Mitchell Fund of RAAC. (This program receives its grant funds in part from the annual art tour revenues.)
In Sperryville, the Rappahannock Pottery Collective is building out a gallery in the Copper Fox building. The collective’s four members — Sara Adams, Doris Jones, Susan Hornbostel and Nancy Nord — met while taking lessons from former Rappahannock artist Jeanne Drevas, and were one of the first artist groups in RDA. They create both hand built and wheel thrown works, which range from ikebana containers to whimsical teapots.
A bright new addition to Sperryville’s art life is the Cottage Curator, created by Jackie Bailey Labovitz, a nationally known independent art curator who has created exhibits for individuals, corporations and embassies around the world, including the Smithsonian Institution (and a fine-art nature photographer herself).
Labovitz specializes in finding living artists and artisans and creating art spaces that reflect their work. “Most artists’ work never make it into a museum until they are dead,” she notes, noting that she has a “missionary’s zeal” to curate exhibits that help artists get their work recognized.
Her gallery differs from most in that she “curates” her exhibits around a theme, as is the case with her inaugural exhibition entitled “Trees.” This exhibit features works inspired by trees, honoring the Shenandoah National Park’s 100th birthday. Visitors will find not only paintings, sculpture, woodcut prints, drawings and photographs but also fine crafts from nationally recognized and collected artists. “Everything revolves around trees and wood,” Labovitz notes.
Six of the 18 featured artist are Rappahannock-based, including Labovitz herself, as well as Kathy Chumley, Rosabel Goodman-Everard, Barbara Heile, Dabney Kirchman and Margot S. Neuhaus. The exhibit will have its opening reception 3 to 5 p.m. this Saturday (Oct. 15) and will run through Dec. 18.