Interested in finding out how an artist finds passion in different mediums? Then you’ll want to visit the studios of Linda Tarry, Hans Gerhard and Margaret “Maggie” Rogers during the 10th annual Artists of Rappahannock Open Studio and Gallery Tour (Nov. 1-2).
Tarry and Gerhard exemplify the motto, “Leave nothing to waste.” They bring recycling to a new level, creating amazing works out of “found objects” and refuse. Both are sculptors who find artistic rhapsody in transforming things others have discarded into works of art.
In Tarry’s case, the medium is broken glass and discarded ceramics. For Gerhard, it is discarded farm instruments that he welds into fantastical creations.
Tarry’s first artistic endeavors were in stained glass and mosaics, but she quickly wanted to take these mediums to the next level. “I created one mosaic tabletop, but got tired of the flatness of this art form,” said the former art education.
She turned to creating the “3D mosaics” that are her trademark today. These mosaics use bottles, vases and even large doll heads as the sculptures’ bases. “I like to put strange things together,” she said, noting that she scrounges items from flea markets and refuse sites.
What provides the inspiration for her artwork? Sometimes it is the material itself. After seeing so many Barbie dolls piling up at the neighborhood dump, she developed an affinity for plastic.
Indeed, many of her works revolve around doll appendages, which make some people chuckle and others grimace. She is pleased at either reaction. “As long as there is a reaction, I know they are engaged with my work”, said Tarry, who added she’s creating new smaller works of 3D mosaics for the tour.
Gerhard’s found medium is scrap metal. A former prominent professor-turned-artist, Gerhard does not mind scavenging on all fours for his materials, often along the road or at refuse sites. These he turns into large outdoor sculptures.
Born in Hanover, Germany, the amiable Gerhard began his artist journey studying painting in school. After teaching at U.S. universities, yet still driven to aspire artistically, he took a job at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C, “so I could take night classes at [the] Corcoran [School of Art].”
Initially painting landscapes, he switched to abstracts, using deep, prominent colors in a style influenced largely by German modernism. Although he still paints, most of his artistic energy today has turned to sculpture, with scrap metal being his favorite medium.
Gerhard began working with metal after picking up scrap on the roadside and around his farm. He took classes in metal and welding and began creating large pieces of “refuse” art, mostly intended for the outdoors.
But Gerhard soon found that welding metal together isn’t easy because different cooking rates can affect how they bind. Most days he’s just content when the whole thing sticks together. “I will do this until I get too old to lift the heavy pieces, and then I will go back to painting,” he said.
For a change of pace, after you tour Gerhard’s farm-based Slate Mills studio, stop by Central Coffee Roasters, just outside of Sperryville, for a great cup of coffee and a visit to Rogers’ printmaking studio. But don’t let the delicious aroma of coffee distract you — you’ll also find a lesson in printmaking here. Rogers’ studio is tucked behind the roasting room of the business she operates with her family.
Rogers is a designer by training, schooled at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. She has also worked as a potter, illustrator and even a political cartoonist. However, her true calling is as a printmaker.
Inspired by the etchings of Rembrandt, she works in the authentic intaglio method, a complex multistep process first begun in the 15th century. The intaglio process involves cutting a design into unprotected parts of a metal surface — called a matrix — either with acid or a drypoint instrument. This is then processed with ink and transferred to paper; Rogers uses both.
“Paper is the canvas of printmakers,” said Rogers. “Wielding those giant sheets from drawer to working table make me feel like the master of a ship’s sail. Each step throughout the etching, drypoint or engraving procedure can be a pleasure, a horror and then a catharsis,” she said, noting that the journey traveled to the finished print is a good one.
This is the sixth in a series of articles on the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community’s (RAAC) 10th annual Artists of Rappahannock Studio & Gallery Tour this Nov. 1-2. For more, visit raac.org/aor14.