Around Sperryville, artists gear up for the tour

Sperryville artist Margot Neuhaus, who also sculpts and paints, will be featuring some of her recent photography work at her mountain-top studio Nov. 7-8.
Sperryville artist Margot Neuhaus, who also sculpts and paints, will be featuring some of her recent photography work at her mountain-top studio Nov. 7-8. Kay Chernush

While a grand total of 21 artists open their personal studios Nov. 7-8 for the annual Artists of Rappahannock tour, nine of them are located in the southern end of the county. In addition to the two new artists featured earlier in this newspaper — John Kirchner (multimedia) and Gina Sweatt (jewelry design) — seven artists who have been on the tour before will provide visitors with a kaleidoscope of creative talent in and around Sperryville.

At Margot Neuhaus’ mountain-top studio, her recent photography work, “Lines: Earth, Sand,” will be on  exhibit. Neuhaus, who also sculpts and paints, says of this series: “I like the contrast, the outlines of mountains versus the lines on sand. In a way they echo each other.”

Nearby, multimedia artist Brenda Van Ness will unveil a new series titled “Imagination,” which she co-created with fellow artist Nol Putnam. Always pushing the creative edge a bit further, Van Ness says this series explores the “merging and divine movement of cloth and metal” in large, 12- to 14-foot outdoor sculptures. She will also show new photographic projects inspired by her Vimeo piece “Self-Portrait,” as well as the fine cabinetry of John Van Ness.

At Juba Mountain Pottery, Susan Dienelt will show her exquisite glazed pottery, as well as host Davette Leonard and former Rappahannock resident Jeanne Drevas. Leonard is a classical artist whose still-life oil paintings — done with exacting realism — look as if they should be in a museum. Drevas’ medium is entirely different. Veering from the pottery and sculptures for which she is known, her new series consists of wrapped fiber figures painted with acrylics or chalk paint and then sanded to reveal layers. The “Morphos” series, Drevas says, flowed out of her move to Oregon two years ago.

Another artist who works with chalk paint is Darien Reece, an antiques dealer turned artist, poet and puppet maker. Reece has a special eye for fantasy, which she captures in her paintings and sculptures. The family puppets she originally created for relatives have expanded into a much larger body of work now available to the public. Also a painter, her show “Implicit Bias: Seeing the Other, Seeing Our Self” is currently showing at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery in Washington, D.C. Reece will also host the gallery’s director, Spencer Dormitzer, who works in intricate pen and ink drawings.

To see how creativity evolves, don’t miss the recent work of Rosabel Goodman-Everard, an acrylic and mixed media artist. “My work is mostly figurative, with surrealistic and symbolic tendencies,” said Goodman-Everard. However, this year her subject is a tree. “After a long spell of intense creativity, I hit a drought. Nothing would come. I decided to focus on one shape, a truncated tree, and see how far I could push it.”  She will show pieces from her recent solo shows at the Studio Gallery, R Street Gallery and the Korean Cultural Center in D.C.

But not all of the artists in this part of the county work in paint or ceramics. Two of them — Margaret “Maggie “Rogers and Hans Gerhard — will show you that art can be created by etching (Rogers) and welding (Gerhard).

Artist Hans Gerhard's future is so bright he has to wear a welding mask.
Artist Hans Gerhard’s future is so bright he has to wear a welding mask. Courtesy photo

Rogers’ Sperryville studio is tucked behind Central Coffee Roasters, a business she operates with her family. A designer by training, she has worked as a potter, illustrator and cartoonist before finding her true calling in printmaking. Inspired by the etchings of Rembrandt, she works in the authentic intaglio method, a complex multi-step process. “Paper is the canvas of printmakers,” said Rogers. “Wielding these giant paper sheets from drawer to working table makes me feel like the master of a ship’s sails. Each step (in the process) can be a pleasure, a horror  . . . and then a catharsis. The journey traveled is a good one.”

For Gerhard, a professor turned painter and sculptor, his artistic journey has taken him from painting landscapes and abstracts to pottery and wood carving. Today, he is known for what he calls his “refuse art”: large and small outdoor sculptures which he makes from the scrap metal he has found around his farm or along roadsides. Ranging from the whimsical to the bizarre, his sculptures starts with everyday farm tools and metal objects which he welds into imaginative works of art.

Sperryville’s five art galleries — River District Arts’ Confluent Gallery, Middle Street, Old Rag Photography, Haley Fine Art and Glassworks — will also feature special exhibits, assuring that tour visitors’ journey is also a good and rich one.

For more information about the Nov. 7-8 tour, visit